Thought for words and languages!

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–India Habitat Centre language festival Samanvay The fourth edition of Samanvay: IHC Indian Languages festival was held successfully at India Habitat Centre from November 6-9, 2014. The theme of Samanvay 2014 was Bhashantar Deshantar: Translation Transnation and it focused on Indian languages which have a transnational presence. The central idea of the festival this year was to bring together authors and translators across languages and national borders. This year edition of Samanvay kindled a discourse on how languages and selves belittle borders and boundaries and mingle with each other. Rakesh Kacker, director of Samanvay, expressed pride at the opening ceremony of the festival and said that the festival which started three years ago as a rendezvous for different Indian languages has attained new heights. “IHC had always wanted to create a platform where authors of different languages could come together, their works could be discussed, and readers and aesthetes could interact with them. This platform shall endeavour that people come to know, enjoy, and appreciate the beauty and nuances of different languages and ensure that the audience is able to relate to the feelings underlying their writings and voice their views on them,” he said.

Ashok Vajpeyi, the eminent Hindi poet and literary-cultural critic, delivered the inaugural lecture. Vajpeyi was later conferred the Samanvay Bhartiya Bhasha Samman Award as well, an award that was constituted by Samanvay two years ago to be given in a language every year. Vajpeyi amused, beguiled and at the same time amazed the audience with the sheer directness of his speech and the clarity of his thought. The following session was a tribute to the literary giants UR Ananthamurthy, Rajendra Yadav, Nabarun Bhattacharya, Khushwant Singh and Bipan Chandra who passed away this year.

The opening session of the day 2 saw the panelists voice their opinions on the schism between serious literature and popular literature in India while the second session revolved around the principal theme of the festival Bhashantar Deshantar: Translation Transnation. Other interesting sessions included that on languages of Bastar – Halbi, Dorli, Bharti et al and ‘Kiska Shahar, Kiski Zuban’.

The opening session on Day 3 was on poems while the second session focused on Konkani literature. Other informative sessions threw spotlight on Hindi, Sanskrit and Punjabi. The session Kahaani Filmi Nahin Hai witnessed a packed audience as the panelists comprised of Bollywood bigshots – actors Vinay Pathak and Saurabh Shukla, screenwriter Sanjay Chouhan and film-maker Anusha Rizvi. Moderator Mayank Shekhar, who is a film-critic, elaborated how the word ‘filmi’ in Mumbai connotes a background of Bollywood personalities.

The concluding day of Samanvay began with a session on the love-hate relationship between poetry and the idea of nation. The next session ‘My Body, My Text’ had India’s leading activists discussing issues concerning LGBT community and women. In the session on Malayali columnist KR Meera elaborated the challenges of translation that the Malayali literature, even literature of pan-Indian nature, faces. While, the session on Bangla that followed revolved around the theme ‘One language, two countries’. The penultimate session was an extremely informative session on Right to Information Act.

India Habitat Centre’s Annual Languages’ Festival Samanvay is held in collaboration with National Book Trust, India.

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