So Long Literary Carnival, Mumbai. See You Again Next Year.


Today was the concluding day of the Literary Carnival in Mumbai. Jayant joined me and we made it to 2 sessions – first, ‘Two States Of Mind’ where Vikas Swarup (author of Slumdog Millionaire) and Chetan Bhagat discussed writing and the perils of being cooped into the medium of films; and second, ‘Hindi From The Heart’ – the session where Gulzar launched his latest book and spoke with Mrinal Pande about why we must regain the innocence of childhood.

Session — Two States Of Mind: Chetan Bhagat, whose books I find immensely filmy, admitted himself that he is no Booker’s material. Which is why he fit the bill perfectly in a session that was about movie adaptation of books, screenplay writing, how to deal with people from the cine-world, how to ‘protect your turf’ when giving your story for celluloid adaptation, etc etc. Both he and Vikas Swarup, speaking about their respective books, took us through their own experiences of obscurity, story-rejections to Oscar red-carpets and movie credits. Admit, a very good and straight-from-the-heart session. We left as soon as the Q&A portion started, for we wanted good seats at the Gulzar session.
Vikas Swarup & Chetan Bhagat @2 States of Mind at Mumbai Literary Carnival

Session — Hindi From The Heart: Gulzar’s session, as expected, was ‘Houesfull’ in a matter of minutes. With the erudite Mrinal Pande as the moderator, this was a chaste one and a half hour of chaste Hindi and Urdu. How beautifully they spoke. And how beautifully they both recited. Be it Gulzar’s own nazms or Ghalib’s or Meer’s or Tagore’s. Standing ovations, thunderous claps, screams of joy – Gulzar lovers are never miserly on their love and respect for him. And then of course the book signing moment. To him, I was just another fan. But I shall forever remember the Namaskar he said in reply to mine. And will treasure the book he signed for me.

Gulzar & Mrinal Pande @Hindi From The Heart at Mumbai Literary Carnival

Gulzar @Hindi From The Heart session at Mumbai Literary Carnival

Thumbs Up Then To Mumbai’s Literary Carnival! Yes, it is a brilliant effort by the Times of India. A big THANK YOU for bringing such an invigorating, enriching 3 days to Mumbai’s literature-loving, book-loving residents. Well organised, well attended by the literary circuit, zero confusion on the sessions, venues; no mobile-ringing/talking during sessions; queue-respecting Mumbaikars!!

Scope For Improvement @Mumbai’s Literary Carnival:
* They ought to have more children-oriented sessions. We, who are 30+ and are book lovers, will stay book lovers the rest of our life. It is important to tear away today’s kids from their playstations, iPads, televisions, computers. A complete section dedicated to children for all 3 days would be great to see/find.

* The team doing the announcements at the Mumbai Literary Carnival looked (to me) like college students. Good. But what was bad was the fact that almost all of them spoke wrong English. Grammatical mistakes, incorrect phrases were rampant across sessions. Don’t know if this was owing to the excitement of announcing such stalwarts like Ruskin Bond, Gulzar, William Dalrymple. But it seemed to me that SMS/Twitter language is finally taking a toll on our youngsters. TOI should take care while selecting the team front-facing the gathering at such a prestigious event.

All in all, a wonderful weekend. Will last me the next one year. See you, Literary Carnival, next Nov-Dec!!

Also Read: Spending The Weekend @Mumbai’s Literary Carnival