Ooty Literary Festival honours Perumal Murugan

The recent Ooty Literary Festival turned the spotlight on climate change, gender sensitivity, and man-animal conflict with an emphasis on engaging young minds

November 29, 2023 04:50 pm | Updated 07:24 pm IST

Author Perumal Murugan at the 7th edition of the Ooty Literary Festival

Author Perumal Murugan at the 7th edition of the Ooty Literary Festival | Photo Credit: SATHYAMOORTHY M

On a sunny autumn morning, the Gothic-hall of the iconic century-old Nilgiri Library resonated with cheers as writer Perumal Murugan received his Lifetime Achievement Award for fostering?literary?arts?and?culture in Tamil Nadu. It was the opening day of the 7th edition of the?Ooty?Literary?Festival.

In a conversation that followed, Perumal Murugan shared how he turned author. “Introduction to magical realism, feminism, Dalit writings?and?post-modernism of the 1990s in literature brought in layered-writing in Tamil. It affected my writing style too. Though realistic narration was considered obsolete, I chose to tread my own path in this style,” he said adding that his mentors, professors Srinivasan?and?Raja Durai ,?and?poet Sukumaran moulded him as a writer.

Throwing light on how translations have opened up regional writing, he recalled poring over Tamil translations of Russian literature in the 1980s. “The beauty of the steppes is still so fresh in my memory. You realise that human emotions are the same everywhere. With my works being translated in German?and?Czech now, it gives me hope that language is no longer a barrier for writers. Local, ethnic issues have global appeal now.”

 Author Sudha Murty at the festival

Author Sudha Murty at the festival | Photo Credit: SATHYAMOORTHY M

This year’s?festival?was reimagined on a bigger scale by a team of co-trustees including Geetha Srinivasan, Yash Muthanna, Kalpana Kar,?and?Aroon Ram. It included an exhibition, titled Remembering & Reimagining, curated by Jenny Pinto, which featured an extensive collection of photos spanning 200 years, documenting the social, ecological?and?cultural history of the Nilgiris. An exhibition of illustrations by artist Paul Fernandes, called An Artist Recreates the Magic of?Ooty, took visitors on a journey through the history of the idyllic queen of the hills. Author Sudha Murthy regaled students with her experiences of turning author at Igniting Minds. “Such?festivals?are a great opportunity to meet other authors as well as connect with my readers,” she said between posing for photographs.

Discussing the impact of the?festival, Kalpana Kar, said “It opens up minds. The habit of reading, the power of a world of words comes to the fore in the real sense.” She added that the?festival?is part of the bicentennial, with a focus on “conserving the Nilgiris,?and?co-existence with wildlife as we are looking at an endangered biosphere here”. She added that they made an effort to engage with more children this year, “with stories on Nature?and?wildlife, hoping to eventually turn them into conservationists.”

Elaborating on queer writing, author?and?LGBTQIA+ inclusion consultant Parmesh Shahani, spoke of a queer renaissance with queer fiction, non-fiction, autobiography, queer anthologies?and?genres capturing the tapestry of the queer experience. Parmesh added, “A lit fest that puts issues like gender, LGBTQ, sustainability,?and?environment upfront gives hope. Right now, there are over 200 books on queer writing in India, from trans writing by folks like Akkai Padmashali to K Vaishali’s?Growing Up Lesbian?and?Dyslexic in India?which came out this year. Global conversations on inclusion gives us visibility, representation, a chance to be seen?and?heard,?and?to fit into the imagination of being Indian which is many things, also being queer.”

Jenny Pintos photo exhibition Remembering& Reimagining documents social history of the Nilgiris

Jenny Pintos photo exhibition Remembering& Reimagining documents social history of the Nilgiris | Photo Credit: SATHYAMOORTHY M

On day two, Suresh Menon, veteran sports writer, who wrote his recent book?Why don’t you write something I might read??(in response to his wife’s recurring query!) expressed hope that books will survive?and?stay. A book-lover, he calls himself a ‘non-fiction writer’?and?said the only preparation to becoming a writer is reading. His session along with Devangshu Datta from Juggernaut Books?and?cricket writer Prem Panicker took the conversation forward on translations?and?trends in publishing.

Another noteworthy conversation featured wildlife conservationist Shafath Ali Khan, India’s celebrated hunter?and?K Vijaykumar, IPS (retired) who as chief of the Special Task Force of Tamil Nadu ended the Veerappan saga. “My grandfather was an advisor to the British government on man-animal conflict,” started Shafath Ali Khan?and?added, “One lakh?and?seventy thousand villages in India are at the foothills of national parks?and?are at the receiving end. As man-conflicts rise, tribals will become enemies of wildlife. Hunting down man-eaters or rogue elephants is the last resort to save the wildlife.” Vijayakumar recounted the twist?and?turns of Operation Cocoon from his book?Veerappan- Chasing the Brigand.

Film actor Raja Krishnamoorthy holds a session for children

Film actor Raja Krishnamoorthy holds a session for children | Photo Credit: SATHYAMOORTHY M

Author?and?poet Jerry Pinto, advisor of the fest, said the?Ooty?Literary?Festival, which was started by two grandmothers as they describe themselves — Yash Muthanna?and?Geetha Srinivasan — has grown over the last seven years. “We ensure that local talent is represented strongly. It is about cross-fertilising minds. We always ask writers to do events?and?workshops for children. That’s where you are growing a new breed of readers.”

As the sun set over the hills, performers of jazz, blues,?and?Sufi took over, drawing to a close a celebration of words, poetry,?and?most importantly,?Ooty

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in

Comments

Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.

news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news