Saturday, November 3, 2012

Girish Karnad on V S Naipaul brings Literature aLive

The Tata Literature Live Festival started off as a somewhat quiet gathering of literary folks at the NCPA in Mumbai despite Jeeth Thayil’s wonderful reading from Narcopolis, irreverent and unambiguous in damning all peoples across the geographic and regional spread of the country. 

Focusing on sessions that editor Indira Chandrasekhar attended that featured Out of Print authors, we heard Altaf Tyrewala indicate that the nostalgia that apparently drives the writing of others on the panel 'Has Writing Failed Mumbai' is not the sole thing that motivates his creativity. Annie Zaidi moderated a panel on the writer as an activist, leading journalists and writers such as Alia Ibrahim, Dilip D’Souza, Tenzin Tsundue through a fascinating discussion on their experiences and approaches to writing. It was a low key literary atmosphere. Then, on Friday, November 2 in the early afternoon, the tension and energy in the festival rose several notches up the scale of excitement, engagement, drama and controversy.

In a session listed as one in which actor and playwright Girish Karnad would talk about his life in theatre, Mr Karnad confronted the organisers of the festival and asked them to explain how they justified giving Sir Vidia Naipaul the Landmark Lifetime Achievement Award. The event has been widely written about and I direct you to articles And Girish Karnad Went Boom by Deepanjana Pal and Girish Karnad Takes On V S Naipaul by Supriya Nair to get a sense of quite how intense and explosive it was and to a statement by SAHMAT to get a sense of the solidarity of activist groups to Mr Karnad's comments.

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