Sunday, 19 October 2014

Litomania – My Experience, Day 1

I’d always been a fan of litfest which is an event where authors and readers stand on the same ground and talk about the common thread that bonds them, books. We have a few famous lit fests in India like TATA lit fest that takes place in Mumbai and JLF in Jaipur every year. But now we can add Litomania to the list.

Litomania was a two day literature festival held at one of the plush B schools of Mumbai Welingkers Institude of Management, 2014 being its first year. The event was grand and generous.
On the first day Sangram Surve, brain behind this fest, introduced us to the festival in a majestic auditorium packed with people.
The hall was later addressed by confident and shrewd articulator Amish Tripathi, intellectual and wise Ravi Subramanian, subtle and kind Ravinder Singh and cute and witty Ashwin Sanghai.
They contemplated on ‘what is India reading’ and concluded with what Indians most relate to.

As soon as the session ended we headed to the quiet room of Nirvana. Four chairs for four pretty ladies— upfront, honest and sweet Madhura Banerjee; the quiet woman who exuded power, simplicity, intelligence and wisdom all with her husky voice, Amrita Chowdhury; and the strong willed woman who dared, adorning a beautiful white saree, Bhaavna Arora— sat at the panel to discuss ‘Is India exploring the fifty shades’.
They talked about struggles they faced with writing bold books and talked openly about sexuality amongst other things.
Rachel Lopez from HT, a young, vibrant woman who isn’t afraid of speaking her mind moderated and tossed questions around for everyone.
All four of them were an epitome of strong, independent women of 21st century and at one point I almost longed to be like one of them.

One of the most anticipated events of that day was master class by Ravi Subramanian on ‘How to write a book and get it published’.
Though it was an ‘invites only’ event, people without invites were allowed to sit in.
Ravi started off with asking the roomful of aspiring authors, ardent readers and dreamers why they wanted to write. All those who raised their hands ‘for money’ chucked the notion by the end of the session.
Someone asked him ‘how can one market a book? What was the technique that he used?’
Ravi sipped a glass of water and said, ‘I’ll give you my example.' When he wrote his first book ‘If God was a banker’ the first review he got in a newspaper said ‘don’t bank on this book’. One old lady approached him at one of his book signings and said, ‘you know, there’s a grammatical error in the title of your book. It should be if God were a banker.' One of the first online reviews he read said, ‘Ravi did what no one else has ever ventured to do. He wrote a book worse than Chetan Bhagat.’
    People shook their heads, and when the room fell silent again he explained, much with a sad voice, ‘But fortunately or unfortunately, that was what worked for me. Negative reviews created hype for the book. So don't be disheartened. Just keep writing.'

Amongst other events that ran in adjacent rooms were—
1.     The search of desi Harry Potter by Preeti Vyas, Payal Kapadia, Anusha Subramanian
2.    ‘India’s obsession with gastronomy’ by Sanjeev Kapoor,
3.    A stand-up comedy Act by Sorabh Pant,
4.    Shaping the future of corporate and B-school and
5.    When writing mythology, does the writing change the writer led by Amish Tripathi and Ashwin Shanghai.
old prized collection of authors present at the fest
I have never been to a true lit fest or been around other scattered book lovers who are not simply interested in the story, but also in the art of storytelling. How the characters come to life and breathe through the pages. How story tellers create a parallel world for us.
I enjoyed strolling through the floors, mesmerized and dazed, taking in the vibe, browsing through stacks of books and seeing authors live. My only regret probably was not participating in any of those amazing contests they held and getting to choose from those towering piles books. But apart from that, it was worth bunking college for.

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