Indian folktales are priceless and so is the contribution of those who are keeping it alive without digging deep and changing course for commercial success. My first post-lunch session was a tough choice, whether to go conventional and attend a second session of Amartya Sen or take a risk and go for something which I don’t know much about and I may not hear much in tweets or blog-posts too.
I decided to go for this tribute session for Vijaydan Detha. When I decided to go in for the session my only sure bet was to hear Irrfan Khan, an actor I admire as much for acting as for his intellect. I was not disappointed by him or by any other panelists and came out enriched on several things including, but not limited to “living for an alphabet”, “writing not as a writer and being known as a writer” and “struggling to write once you are known as a writer”. During the session I discovered that a few movies have been based on Vijaydan Detha’s stories and I had a definite recall of watching Paheli.
One of over a thousand expressions, Ankit Chadha exhibited in his session / demonstration of storytelling. Did he tell a story worth taking back home? Not one, not two, but several. Ankit Chadha was there to tell stories to kids but the biggest fans he made were middle- age adults. His session started with very thin attendance but probably he knew what would happen in a few minutes. Once Ankit got going people just started coming in from everywhere. Everyone who landed was mesmerized by his story-telling abilities. His was no skin-deep knowledge, he was breathing and living every story he narrated and enacted, in short he was on fire for the whole session. Was it passion? Was it knowledge base? Was it art? Was it voice modulation? What was it which got everyone to stand-up and give this young man a standing ovation? To me, it was his life in action. There were no filters and coverups, it was just standing out there and giving a great performance. It was all for that smile of satisfaction, an hour well prepared for and well lived.
I have done a few storytelling sessions, but today I learned the art of story telling from the man who mastered it.
Looks like brands can pull people but a poor performance won’t make them sit through. It looks like a lot of people were disappointed by Suhel Seth’s “enactment” which never happened. There were walkouts and lot of them from this session on Crime and Punishment by Fydor Dostoyevsky. Expectations were high and Homi Bhabha and Martin Puchner did contribute positively to the subject but they couldn’t make-up for Suhel’s going and reading the book instead and that also almost flat like a beer bottle opened in 2013. In particular I liked an observation – in India, crime has a definition but when it comes to punishment it all goes haywire.
Day one of #ZEEJLF was fun for me and a lot of learning. It started with, I am glad that I am here and it ended with I am so glad I am here.