Literature in most regional languages struggles to find space in Indian mainstream. So you can imagine that it is worse for the younger writers in these languages to find recognition,” says writer Mohan Kakkanadan. This was the thought when Kakkanadan, also the curator of the LIC Gateway Litfest, drew up the theme of this year’s edition of the festival. In its fifth year, the literary festival focussing on regional languages, held annually in Mumbai, has centred its schedule around ‘Youth Power in Indian Literature’. The two-day event will take place today and tomorrow at the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA), Mumbai.
Kakkanadan believes that literature in regional languages is mostly identified in the mainstream by writers who have already made significant achievements in their careers. “The younger voices are rarely heard unless they win a state or Sahitya Akademi award. But they need to be recognised, and that is possible through translations,” he says, hoping that the literary platform will help publishers discover these young talents. Among the young writers attending the festival are Mumbai-based poet Mihir Chitre; Anwesha Singbal, who bagged the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Yuva Sahitya Puraskar 2016 for her Konkani book of poetry titled Sulus; Adil Mohi Ud Din, a poet from Kashmir. Also present at the festival will be Malayalam author S Hareesh, who was recently in news after he was forced to withdraw his short story Meesha after threats from the right-wing. The festival, however, has not limited the showcase of talents to poetry or prose writers alone. There are sessions on new trends in cinema and theatre, the latter of which will be attended by veterans such as Shanta Gokhale and Ramu Ramanathan.
The festival also features prominent authors such as Hindi poet Manglesh Dabral, also the keynote speaker at the event, and noted Gujarati author Sitanshu Yashaschandra, who will chair the session on youth power in Indian literature. “We need the established names. They are a huge draw but they are also a guiding light for the younger writers,” says Kakkanadan.