Conversations galore on Day 2 & 3 of litfest

Author Shobhaa De at the Pune International Literary Festival. Photographs by Sanket Wankhade

An account of Day 2 and 3 of the Pune International Film Festival

Archie Comics Co-CEO Nancy Silberkleit
Archie Comics Co-CEO Nancy Silberkleit

Day 2 of the Pune International Literary Festival saw an engaging conversation with the Co- CEO of Archie Comics, Nancy Silberkliet. She spoke about how her journey with Archie Comics began at the age of 54 and how she used the comics to get across relevant social messages to the readers.

“I was working as a teacher earlier. I call myself an ‘Accidental CEO’ because I knew nothing about running the business. I had never read an Archie comic before I started to head the organisation. My love for reading found its way to me at 54 years. I realised that graphic literacy is a great way to get across important information. We’ve tried to address issues like gun violence and bullying through the comic books,” she explained.

L to R: Rajdeep Sardesai, Maya Mirchandani and Josy Joseph
L to R: Rajdeep Sardesai, Maya Mirchandani and Josy Joseph

An interesting session with some senior journalists on the panel, was greeted with a jam packed audience. Rajdeep Sardesai, Maya Mirchandani and Josy Joseph came together to discuss ‘The Dynamics of Truth’. A common consensus that was shared by the panellists was that we are living in a time when telling the truth is under serious assault. As explained by Joseph, “Truth frightens people, it makes them uncomfortable. We should be able to agree to disagree but that is disappearing from newsrooms and society.” Sardesai added to this: “From journalists being the watchdogs, they have now become lapdogs. Also, this is the time the public has been most polarised, which is only beneficial to the politicians and we should stop this from happening.”

Author Helen Smith
Author Helen Smith

A special session called ‘Mystery, adventure and a love of reading-what we learned from Enid Blyton’ enticed all the Blyton fans. Conducted by author Helen Smith, the session analysed the author’s writing style as well as dissected the characters that made the books so popular. It was followed by a quick question-and-answer round, for ardent readers to indulge themselves some more.

‘Flavours for the heart’ was a session that saw eminent panellists like Antoine Lewis, Anuradha Sawney and Aditya Mehendale talk about spices and their various medicinal properties.

Another interaction which saw the auditorium brimming with people was the ‘Yours Truly, Shobhaa De’ session. Engaging in conversation with De was author Vickramm Sampath who kept the audience entertained by questioning De on some of her remarks that were dated back to the 1990s. De was equally blunt and outright about her views and opinions. Right from discussing her early days as a model and being a rebel to her tweet that garnered a whole lot of criticism, she bared it all out. Speaking about the content she writes about, she says, “Women in particular are forced to explain themselves. I don’t think I need to do that with my content.”

L to R: Authors Manu Pillai, Vikram Sampath and Virender Kapoor

Day 3 at the litfest saw some insightful discussions on issues like child rights, interests of the youth and telling the stories of people. In a session titled ‘Biographies: The Charm and Harm’, eminent writers like Vickramm Sampath, Manu Pillai, Virender Kapoor and Bakhtiar Dadabhoy spoke about their journey of writing about lives that were lived in different times. Their challenges included referring to archived material. “As a biographer, you only have facts with you. You can’t imagine anything. You have to make do with whatever you have because you cannot know everything about that person,” stated Dadabhoy.

This year’s festival also saw a conversation with Boyd Tonkin, an awardwinning British journalist who is also on the jury panel of the Man Booker Prize. Tonkin spoke about how translated literary works are now making their way into the mainstream. He mentioned about how the job of a translator is very crucial as he or she cannot afford to lose the essence of the novel from the language it was originally written in.

Prasoon Joshi with Rajeev Masand (left)

Prasoon Joshi, a man with numerous credentials in conversation with Rajeev Masand, left the entire audience spellbound with his thoughts and poetry. Explaining why a different muscle needs to be flexed for different mediums, he says, “Advertising is much more complex than a song or film. It is an intrusion and thus, it has to be engaging. Whereas you are already predisposed to a film or song.” Joshi ended the discussion by emphasising on the need for more forums to understand what people want.

A funny affair between journalist Shatrujeet Nath and Ashwin Sanghi tickled the funny bone of the audience at the festival. Both Sanghi and Nath were discussing about the criticism they’ve faced for their work and it kept them going. “If I believed the critic who wrote in my book review that it should have stopped at Page 10 then I wouldn’t have produced more work,” said Sanghi.

L to R: Neeraj Kumar, Helen Smith, Piyush Jha, Avirook Sen and Mark Manuel

An interesting session on crime writing, left everyone on the edge of their seats up till the question answer session. Moderated by Piyush Jha, the panel consisted of Avirook Sen, Neeraj Kumar, Mark Manuel and Helen Smith. Some eyeopening facts were revealed about the judiciary and the CBI in India, which forms the basis of most of the panellist’s books. Talking about his book, Sen explained, “While writing I wanted to paint an accurate picture for the common man about court hearings, how investigations frame up, jails. For them (the common man) they only know what they see in movies which is far from the reality.”

The festival ended with a stimulating conversation with actor Anupam Kher. Speaking on why he always glorifies his failure stories over his success, he said, “Despite being extremely successful in my professional as well as personal life I feel that success is very boring. I enjoy the journey more than the destination. I have been raised in a very positive atmosphere by my family and so I am a borne optimist. If I speak about myself, I am sum total of my failures. I believe that we all have fear for failure in our mind, but we must learn to eradicate it to be successful in our lives.”

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