IEP Chandigarh, March 30
Elsewhere Foundation in collaboration with Hero Realty is organising a two-day Think Fest, ‘Speaking Allowed’ which has started in Chandigarh. The day began with a session ‘Writing Kashmir’ by author Ashish Kaul, and performance artist and writer Inder Salim, which was moderated by Manraj Grewal, Resident Editor, The Indian Express, Chandigarh.The session stressed the need to constantly bring alive different narratives from Kashmir.Kaul who has authored bestsellers ‘Didda: The Warrior Queen Of Kashmir’, ‘Refugee Camp’ and ‘Rakht Ghulab’ said, “The need of the hour is to look at Kashmir with new eyes and focus on the problems of common people, be it food, power, equal rights and peace.”A conceptual performance artist and poet practicing for over 25 years, Inder Salim staged a short performance titled ‘Lost Phiren’ and stressed upon the role of art as activism.The next session, ‘Who is Afraid of Indian Literature,’ was held by speakers including Khalid Jawed (JCB Prize-winning author), Arunava Sinha (Crossword-prize winning translator), Ravi Singh (Publisher, Speaking Tiger) Nirupama Dutt (award-winning poet) who reflected on how Indian literature in different languages is making headlines and winning awards after being translated into English.The panellists spoke about how translation brings to centre stage narratives from across the country.On being asked about the type of writing coming forward, from young and new writers, Ravi Singh said that “It is very exciting, I am a big fan of new writing because it is diversified content. As long as people read there is no problem.”Khalid Jawed, stated that, “Urdu is only considered the language of Muslims, but that is not true as Urdu connects people to each other”. Arunava Sinha said, “When there are more translators, more readers will be there”Moving further the third session – ‘Gazing at Punjab through art’ was conducted by celebrated singer Rabbi Shergill and acclaimed artists Thukral and Tagra who talked about contemporary Punjab, aligning their thoughts, ideas, and vision through their art. The session was Moderated by filmmaker and scholar Daljit Ami.From the farmers’ protest to the burning Amrit Pal issue, and politics, the session focused on contemporary Punjab. I understand the glamour and glory that comes with Punjabi music as we hear it today – I know it and I resist it. Yes, Moosewala’s style of music should happen. It’s a safety valve, we should know what people are thinking, and reflecting – but one has to understand what art is, and what it stands for. The dominance and sheer size of this kind of music and singers has to be checked. Where is Asa Singh Mastana, Surinder Kaur, Bulleh Shah, Sultan Babu, and Dheeraj Kumar, where are the voices that made Punjab cosmopolitan? Where are, tell me the female voices? I hear none. I consider Waris Shah the Shakespeare of Punjab, his invocation of the character of Heer is the cornerstone of Punjabi literature and we have collectively failed our literature and poetry. Our responsibility is to show leadership, to take charge, to understand where we stand and what is our moral stand,” Rabbi is working on more music inspired by his favourite poet, Sultan Babu.The last session of the evening was Reading Young, and Busted the myth that the young are not reading enough. Children’s author and filmmaker Samina Mishra and graphic novelist Ita Mehrotra looked at what the young adults are reading. Jaskiran Kapoor, writer and content creator moderated the session.