Saturday 2 March 2019

The two-day Gateway Litfest 2019 began in Mumbai on 1.3.2019

A 'Mahakumbh' of budding writers and Akademy award winners from 22 languages 
"Asking of questions is key to maintaining vitality of Indian literature"

India is not made up of politicians or the self-proclaimed messiah of different sects. The true India still lies in people of no separate identity living in far-flung areas areas all across of our lovely country. So, with a missionary fervour to keep India one in real sense by building a common thread among all the literary zones of it Gateway reaches its Fifth year of the celebration. Last year it had focused on Women litterateurs and this year it has centred around the generation next as a youth always brings a fresh air of thoughts breaking from tradition.

“Literature encompasses all regional languages in a vast multi-racial nation like India. The popularity of the GLF is gaining wider momentum as a prestigious forum for representing regional writings and celebrating the glory of the written word,” stated noted film-maker Adoor Gopalakrishnan in his opening address.

The two-day literary festival opened with a rousing response from literature lovers on March 1 at NCPA, Mumbai. Youth are acting as agents of changes and challenging prevailing structures in Indian literature was the unequivocal consensus among panellists at the 5th LIC Gateway Litfest which was themed around “Youth Power in Indian Literature”.

The Gateway Litfest Writer of the year Award was presented to Manoranjan Byapari known as the pioneer of Dalit literature in Bengali. A convict-turned-rickshaw puller-turned writer, he is also a known socio-political activist who is the author of over a dozen novels and a 100 short stories, a part from a few non-fiction works. His works have been heralded as seminal for giving voice to Dalit oppression in West Bengal. Heralding Gateway Litfest as an all-encompassing platform for giving voice to regional writings Byapari, in his speech, mentioned various interesting anecdotes from his eventful life.

“Contemporary social movements have inspired literary trends of today. Over the years, youth have been central to challenging and changing existing literary paradigms. Ideological movements like the Naxal struggle during the 70s enamoured the youth of West Bengal and had a profound impact on contemporary literature, especially poetry,” said noted Hindi poet, journalist and translator Mangalesh Dabral.

Commenting on the cultural crisis that modern literature is facing and the way it is putting writers in a flux, noted Jnanpith awardee Pratibha Ray said “Literature acts as a powerful medium which facilitates the flow of new ideas to readers. Though religion, politics and language can be described as divisive forces, language when transformed to literature becomes a universal and unifying force. Literature is not a static paradigm and its sustainability is pivotal to maintain societal dynamism.”      

Moderating the session on “Youth Power in Indian Literature” Sahitya Akademi Award winner and noted Gujarati litterateur Sitanshu Yashaschandra stated “I always wonder how one would define a young writer. Ideally, date of birth of a writer could be the key parameter in ascertaining his youthfulness. A young writer always breaks from tradition.”

“We are not in a position to seamlessly translate our regional works and shared cultures. The predominantly tribal society in Assam is being vastly invaded by Pan-Indian cultural trends and it is becoming exceedingly difficult to maintain tribal space in this continuum,” said Assamese poet and translator Bijoy Sankar Barman

Effectively straddling the bilingual world of Assamese and English writings, noted critic, writer and translator Kamal Kumar Tanti said, “Youth are emerging as a pivotal force in Indian literature and looking for real inspirations and stories. Societal complexities are redefining contemporary literary trends.”

“Goa has a tradition of writing against prevalent social trends. Asking of questions is key to maintaining vitality of Indian literature else it will be stifled. A writer provides an ideological base to society,” stated winner of Goa Kendriya Sahitya Akademi Puraskar Naman Dhwaskar Sawant.

In another thought-provoking and engrossing session on "New Waves and Vibes in Film” ,noted actor Renuka Shahane said, “The audience preference for low-cost content-driven cinema is growing. The availability of new-age content-distribution platforms is ensuring wider outreach of short-films which are gaining wider audience acceptance and popularity.”

Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, noted film director and maker of the popular Hindi movie ‘Pink’ said, “Realism is getting into the films. With the onslaught of the digital media and online platforms like Netflix, audience are gaining access to wider entertainment avenues. Literature is a part of cinema which in itself a powerful visual medium.”

Literary sessions on the first day of the 5th LIC Gateway Litfest revolved around the struggles, styles and challenges every aspiring contemporary writer faces, the emerging vibes and new waves in contemporary cinema and the threat to freedom of exexpression in the country. Another key highlight is Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s short film Sukhantyam (A Happy End) was screened on the first day of Gateway Litfest.   

After the literary session was over the participants and other members were invited to dinner at the Press Club of India, Mumbai. 

Report by - Bejod India bureau 
Photographs by - Bejod India bureau and GLF
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