A Lit Fest in Kolkata, creates symbiotic and democratic space for the women authors in India

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Kolkata: Before the season of book fairs and literature festivals set up its mood for January 2019, SheThePeople.TV made Kolkata witness another fiery edition of Women Writers’ Festival on December 14. Setting the mood of a Literature Festival that aims to celebrate the contribution of women in Literature and Art was Bengali actor Swastika Mukherjee.

S for She and S for Scissors

Swastika known for playing bold and unconventional characters in Bengali cinema was seen engaging in a conversation with SheThePeople.TV’s Ideas Editor Kiran Manral on ‘The Art and Craft of the Nayika’. She began with saying, “Sadly, enough, at a time when female actors are getting to do women-centric scenes, am often appalled with the censor board’s rejection of such women. A character like that of Vidya Balan’s in The Dirty Picture who was unapologetic about her sexuality had to have portions explaining as to why her character was the way it had been scripted, in the film.” She then citing her example said, “In one of my film, we had the Censor Board, categorically asking the filmmakers to make my character have a section where she needs to repent or show remorse for having opted to bear a child out of wedlock from one of her underage student. I remember having told the producers that I would not do that scene. For, I don’t endorse the ideology of doing things and then crying or apologizing for being what you are.”

Self-censorship a strict ‘no’

With the mood of the single-day Literature Festival being set with Swastika’s fiery talk, it was evident that there would more to it than just reading out excerpts from books. In the second session of the festival, the authors were seen engaging in a discussion about self censorship and sharing personal experiences through one’s book. Sharing her experiences was debutante author Bali D Sanghvi, said, “As they say, write your memoir when it’s fresh. Hence, I chose to write my extremely personal journey from infertility to motherhood through my book – My Frozen Embryo. I chose to not censor my experiences, as then the idea of writing my book would be lost, which is to give all the much details to women, who have to undergo infertility treatment. The idea was to break the taboo that surrounds infertility treatment in India.”

women writers fest kolkata authors
(L-R) Bali D Sanghvi Pritha Kejriwal, Jayeeta Ganguly, Ipsita Ganguly and Baisali Chatterjee Dutt

Echoing a similar sentiment, journalist-turned-author and media educator Joyeeta Ganguly,she said, “My book – Just Another Fan! is a very personal experience. It’s my story of being an Imran Khan fan girl and how a certain person ditching me at the eleventh hour shattered my dream of meeting Imran Khan in 1989, inspired me to become a journalist. JAF! encompasses my quest and fulfilling my dream to meet him.” She maintained that her book not just chronicles her journey but also narrates some invaluable lessons which actually helped her discover her inner-self

She then went on to add, “Had I imposed self censorship and thought about, what people will say, then the book wouldn’t have the effect that it has had. In the age of blogs and social media, first-hand narratives are gaining popularity, but to tell one’s story in the most perfect way, it becomes necessary to know the craft of writing one’s story.”

Adding to that poetess, Pritha Kejriwal said, “Being a poet, I write about things that inspire me or makes me think. I write more out of philosophical training now, than out of melancholy. However, coming to the issue of self-censorship, let me be clear – I write from my experiences, I write about places I visit or people I meet. So, it is very much me about I feel connected with things.”

Platform for women, by women and of women

Apart from these, the festival had some interesting sessions like – How to make one’s blog click, Flavours of Food Writing, Men Writing Women and more.

Speaking about the need of such a festival, Kiran Manral, author and Ideas Editor at SheThePeople.TV, “The Women Writers Fest is a lit fest with a difference, in that it puts women writers and the issues they write about up front and centre, these often get pushed to the sidelines in most mainstream events. The Women Writers’ Fest is a nurturing, symbiotic, democratic space where writers across disciplines and genres can come together and talk about their writing and the issues that inform their work.”

Watch the session of Swastika Mukherjee at Women Writers’ Fest:

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