The final day of the Chandigarh Literature Festival at Panjab University was a mix of discussions, conversations, film screening and a poetry evening. Anaarkali of Aarah was screened on Sunday, with director Avinash Das and critic Mihir Pandya discussing the film, which is the story of Anarkali, a dancer who performs on lewd numbers and finds herself wronged by the law when no action is taken against her being molested. She, however, is determined to seek revenge. “The protagonist has a strong and powerful character and I feel many women in society can relate to her,” said Pandya.
Critic Akhil Katyal held a conversation with Malik Sajad, the author of Munnu: A Boy From Kashmir. Munnu is a graphic novel, a commentary on the conflict and state of affairs in the last two decades of Kashmir. “It is a first-hand account of the lived experience in the Valley. Visuals allowed me to tell the story in fewer words while not compromising on the content. The art work to open the doors of imagination and both the writing and the art came to me spontaneously,” said Sajad.
The question-answer session was interrupted by a group of people, who ‘protested’ against Sajad, a former political cartoonist in Srinagar, for writing “one side of the story, and not seeing, feeling and chronicling the pain and pathos of the Kashmiri Pandits”.
Instead of a debate or discussion, which Sajad said he was open to, the group chose to storm out of the auditorium, blaming the organisers for not giving them a platform to voice their opinions and protests, with the session coming to an abrupt end.
The panel discussion, ‘Writing Scared’ delved into the rising intolerance and censorship in Punjab, with moderator Amandeep Sandhu. The panelists identified four different types of censorships which were prevalent — sacred censorship, state censorship, social censorship and self-censorship. Professor Surjeet Singh and Daljit Ami were the other panelists.
Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar, the author of Mysterious Ailment of Rupi Baskey was seen in conversation with critic Vivek Menezes, with CLF ending with ‘New Words’, with young poets presenting their work in English, Hindi and Punjabi.