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Writers withdraw from Bangalore Lit Festival over ‘growing intolerance’

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In a bid to lodge their protest against the letter written by one of the Directors of the Bangalore Lit Festival (BLF), author Vikram Sampath, wherein he stated that he was against writers returning their awards, Kannada writer TK Dayanand and poet Arif Raja have boycotted the festival.

The BLF is scheduled to be held in the city on December 5 and 6.

According to reports, Dayanand has written in his letter of withdrawal from the BLF that, “I have learned that the organisers of BLF have, in their own ways, understood and criticised writers returning awards.

“Writers have the right to protest that way (by returning awards). I have no right to sit in judgement of right and wrong on this. Those who cannot understand the terror within one’s spirit cannot understand any literature, writing or anything that can be lively through a festival.”

Poet Raja in his withdrawal letter to the BLF stated, “In a democracy, the debate on ‘to return or not return awards’ is a fascist thought. This is a writer’s independent prerogative. Sampath’s argument that it is politically motivated is childish.”

Issuing a statement on the row, the BLF directors, authors Vikram Sampath and Shinie Antony have issued a clarification on this controversy they said, “The Bangalore Literature Festival has done Bengaluru proud as it has emerged as the second largest literary conclave in this country and survives as a community funded festival that runs on no agendas.

“BLF is a forum created to democratically discuss, dissent and debate varied viewpoints and opinions and not merely a single strand of thought. Individuals and particularly writers, including the organisers, are entitled to their opinions in a free country like ours.

“However, BLF as a whole is neutral and impartial and subscribes to no single ideology or viewpoint. If we were monochromatic in our views, in the last three editions and this one, we would not have invited diverse shades of opinion in the first place. We organisers work really hard to put the festival together against all odds, staying away from corporate funding thus far.

“The reason for this is we believe that voices need to be kept independent and a rainbow of opinions can then be presented to a discerning audience. To ascribe motives to us is simply mischievous and unwarranted.

“While we respect the decision of the writers who have chosen not to participate in the festival due to certain misgivings, we feel they have deprived a vast section of the audience to listen to their viewpoint. We would still urge them to reconsider and participate in the festival so that their views are heard by all.”

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Amitabh Bachchan Feels Writers As The Most Important Part of Filmmaking Process

Big B himself ensures he writes everyday -- even if it is to connect with his fans, whom he calls his extended family

Amitabh Bachchan
Amitabh Bachchan. Pixabay

Megastar Amitabh Bachchan, son of late celebrated poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan, says writers are the most important part of the filmmaking process.

Talking about his father at the Tata Literature Live here, Big B said: “Every time my father wrote a poem, we were the first he would introduce the poem to. In particular he would ask us to read it in almost the same graph and tone with which he had written and I felt that it was extremely important and has affected my work as a professional actor. I feel that writers are the most important ingredient in filmmaking.”

Amitabh Bachchan was accompanied at the event on Thursday by his politician-actress wife Jaya Bachchan. They launched author Siddharth Shanghvi’s new book “The Rabbit and The Squirrel”.

On being asked about the importance of storytelling and whether she reads to her grandchildren, Jaya said she made a habit of reading to them every night.

Commenting on reading stories to the eldest, Navya Naveli Nanda, she said: “I used to make up stories every night when she was little and when my grandson (Agastya) arrived, I started telling the same story, adding a little bit and paying a little more attention to the prince. It used to be a bit more on the princess before.”

The 70-year-old actress said when the two grew up, she stopped making up stories and read proper published books to them.

Why are the Bachchans reluctant to part with books?

Amitabh Bachchan
Amitabh Bachchan. Wikimedia Commons

Jaya said: “When we were little and invited to birthday parties, I remember kids would bring a box of sweets or cookies to birthday parties. But when we grew a little older my father would always say, give a book, it remains on the shelf; at some time you pull it out and read it.

“That’s more important than eating chocolates. It was my job in the house to clean the book shelves every Sunday and I would browse through the books. It was such an interesting activity.”

She said being brought up with books taught her that “their value was more than anything else, even more than a piece of jewellery”.

“It’s difficult to part with books,” said the mother of Abhishek Bachchan and Shweta Bachchan Nanda. Shweta recently turned an author.

Big B himself ensures he writes everyday — even if it is to connect with his fans, whom he calls his extended family.

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On blogging every day, he said: “I have dedicated followers on the blog and I call them my extended family. I feel very committed now because there are people who are waiting for the blog to come.”

He calls blogging “a commitment”.

“No matter what time I finish at night I do find time to write something. It is not for any kind of commercial or personal gain,” he added. (IANS)