Mumbai Gets its First Open Literature Festival

Mumbai, Nov 11 (IANS) The country's business and movie capital is ready for a brush with contemporary literature Nov 12-15 when it flags off its first-ever fine print fest, hosting many emerging writers and even performer Anupam Kher.

The festival - Literature Live - will be open to common people to facilitate participatory literature and exchange between writers and readers.

It will be spread across two venues - the Tata Theatre and Experimental Theatre and the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) Nov 12 to 14 - and end in a grand finale Nov 15 at the Lavasa township on the Mumbai-Pune road.

Modelled on popular festivals like Jaipur Literature Festival, the Kovalam Literary Festival and the Week Hay Festival, Literature Live will be presented by Lavasa, a corporate group that promotes the township, and sponsored by the Times of India.

It will be anchored by columnist Anil Dharker and supported by Bachi Karkaria, theatre personality Gerson Da Cunha, writer Chetan Bhagat and several other arts and culture luminaries in the city.

Dharker, who conceived the festival, said it would be an "eclectic potpourri of literary genres that will bring together some of the greatest Indian and international literary minds".

Why did it take so song for Mumbai to have its own popular literature festival?

"I thought about it a year ago. But I did not know then what I was taking on. The biggest challenge was to raise funds for the festival. It was not possible to pay people who were so dedicated to the cause," Dharker told IANS.

"Literature is very niche and literary festivals are big affairs and cater to wider audience. Gathering funds is difficult," he said.

The festival will become an annual affair.

"Each place has its own character. Jaipur has its own typical character and the literature festival there captures the essence of the city. The same way the Mumbai festival will reflect the spirit of Mumbai," Dharker said.

"It will cater to audiences from the city. I am trying to develop a broad-based liberal outlook to literature - in a wider sense. Several sessions will be performance-based," he said.

"We are bringing British musician-story-teller Matthew Sharp who narrates literary stories to the accompaniment of cello and a performer from New York, Sohrab Khan, a narrator of Indian origin," Dharker said.

Khan playacts Khaled Hosseini's "The Kite-Runner" from the stage. Actor Anupam Kher will read out from his autobiography in a monologue. The festival will host emerging writers like Ashwin Sanghi, Keki Daruwala, Manu Joseph and Amish Tripathi.

It will involve school children in the next edition through a series of smaller events in schools linked to the main exposition.

The literary sessions - Mythology Redux; New India, New Writing; Life by The Throat: Poetry Reading; The Insider Book and Kuch Bhi Ho Sakta Hai - will try to analyse the trends in new Indian writing and the issues that inspire literature.


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