Reading, ‘Riting and the Rhythmic

by Dale Turner

‘ Lekhana’, Bangalore’s literary weekend,  had its second edition atJagriti, the theatre and arts space in Whitefield, over three days in mid-January.  The main organisers, Sangam House, were joined by Bhoomija, the arts trust, Out Of Print, the internet magazine, and BooksTalk, the audio book company, in bringing us this weekend. Called ‘Writing the Written Word’, ‘Lekhana’ 2013 had some truly exciting and unusual panel discussions and programmes.

The weekend opened on Friday evening with hilarious monologues “written” by dogs — ‘Dog Blogs’, performed by the Jagriti repertory. And it ended on Sunday evening with a searing performance of feminist poetry by African-American poet Denise Kumani Gantt. There were panel discussions on the art of biography writing with Suresh Menon and Amrita Shah; on translation, with Lakshmi Holmstrom, VanamalaViswanatha and Shankar Rajaraman; and on dialogue in short fiction with Shinie Antony, Nisha Susan, Mahesh Rao and Rebecca Lloyd.

“Lekhana’ showed its more whimsical side when the discussions veered away from the printed page. A lively discussion on writing for the screen was moderated by PrakashBelawadi, with the new generation of Kannada screen writers and directors – PratibhaNandakumar, Chaitanya K.M. and Pawan Kumar. Chaitanya declared that were he to write dialogue exactly the way people spoke in real life, it would not be credible at all. This point was echoed in the unusual panel on theatre, moderated by Gautam Raja. Four playwrights were asked to compare their craft to guild crafts like wainwrights and cartwrights. AbhishekMajumdar, Danish Jawaid and Christopher Koeble were then joined by actors Arundhati and Jagdish Raja, Kirtana Kumar and Sanjay Iyer, who tossed about their views on dialogue and stage directions. The active participation of GirishKarnad from the audience made the session come alive.

The literary weekend went further afield with a panel on popular song writing. Jazz singer Radha Thomas, Thermal and a Quarter’s Bruce Lee Mani, Vasu Dixit of Swarathma, and the writer of Kannada’s answer to ‘Kolaveri Di’ – PoornachandraTejasvi, who has written the viral hit ‘Thinbeda Kami’ for the upcoming film ‘Lucia’hada freewheeling discussion on ideas of message in songs, and the other irresistible pulls of rhyme, rhythm and metre.

‘I am Micro’, an experimental film by Shai Heredia and ShumonaGoel, had its Bangalore premiere at the weekend. The screening was a powerful reminder of why the literary is never confined to the page. A 15-minute meditation on the arts and cinema, the film was sheer poetry

A splendid time was had by all, even though there (thankfully) was no vacuous controversy of the kind that follows Jaipur. There was sauce and spice, though, in the form of the release of a bilingual anthology of poetry by four Tamil women, edited by Lakshmi Holmstrom. Called ‘Wild Girls, Wicked Words’, the book, with its shocking pink cover, is published by Kalachavadu and Sangam House. May there be many more wicked words!


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