Amidst a huge crowd that squeezed in every inch of space available at India Habitat Centre’s Amphitheatre, a septuagenarian narrated the tale of a Guggu, a bird that fell in love with Baingani, a kite.
All listened to the man in complete attention as his voice fluctuated from expressions of jubilation to remorse and few even gave in to a loud reaction of ‘aww’ and ‘oh’. Such engrossing was the session ‘Mera Kuch Saamaan...’ where poet-filmmaker-screenwriter Gulzar read from his new collection of short stories, Half A Rupee at Penguin’s literature festival, Spring Fever 2013.
The ten-day festival kicked off with the session ‘Never A Dull De!’, where listeners witnessed an interactive tete-a-tete between Shobha De and Mahesh Bhatt. Both talked about their experience of first working together in Swabhiman. The session continued with their chat on what attracts people into the art of storytelling and even delved briefly into the role of sexuality and gender in society and its representation in Indian writing. The second day of the festival attracted literature enthusiasts from across the City to experience the art of storytelling through the words of Gulzar, who read stories from his yet to be published book, Half a Rupee. Before the reading session, he engaged audiences with anecdotes from his life and shared that how these short real life experiences motivate him to write and get transformed into stories for his books.
The next day shifted focus from books to films where filmmaker Mira Nair talked about her journey from Salaam Bombay! to The Reluctant Fundamentalist in the session titled ‘The Global Storyteller’. Columnist Jai Arjun Singh asked Mira about what to expect from her upcoming next to which Mira replied, “Truth is so much more powerful than fiction in my work. The spring board for making The Reluctant Fundamentalist was my first trip to Lahore. It was a familiar and moving experience. I was awed by the largeness of it, the art of it, things that are not always represented in the media. I wanted to portray contemporary Pakistan and also wanted to create a dialogue with America, which is also home for me. I believe that if we don’t tell our own stories, no one else.”
On day four, children’s author, Ruskin Bond and social entrepreneur Sudha Murthy read from their popular books Hip Hop Nature Boy and Dollar Bahu respectively. The session titled ‘Friends in small places’ focused on storytelling for children, the challenges in it and the importance of books in their overall holistic development. The crowd, however, was kept entertained with Ruskin Bond’s witty comments and readings, and the evening was filled with laughter and humour.
The fifth day witnessed an exclusive preview of Gandhi before India by Ramachandra Guha. The coming days will have interesting discussion on photography, entrepreneurial spirit and even food and will invite names like Raghu Rai, Ankit Fadia, Vikram Seth and Durjoy Datta on the panel.