Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) Literary Festival 2017 inaugural ceremony began with the Qirat (recitation of the verses of Holy Quran) by Zeeshan Raza, AMU student. The Festival was then declared open by Mr Tushar Gandhi, the great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi father of the nation. Wajahat Jeelani the secretary of University Debating and Literary Club (UDLC) addressed the gathering. “It is the largest literary festival organised solely by students. The students prepared for months in advance to make it possible” said the secretary of UDLC.
The three-day event is organised by the members of UDLC AMU, who are none other than the students of AMU. From novelists to writers and social activists to Bollywood celebrities people from various discipline took part in AMU Literary Festival 2017. The festival began on March 3 and ended successfully on March 5.
Day 1 (March 3)
“I can’t make the same mistake as in the Oscar,” said Tushar Gandhi mocking it and read the pamphlet carefully while opening the ceremony. The newsletter was also released later. It was given the name” Lit Letter” and released by guests Tushar Gandhi (great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi), Chandrahas Chaudhry (novelist based in Delhi), Saif Mahmood (poet, social activist and lawyer), and the president of UDLC Mr Muhibul Haq (Asst. Prof Department of Political Science). “In Feb 1945 Father of the nation Mr M K Gandhi praised AMU and today in March 2017 we have Mr Tushar Gandhi at AMU Literary Festival,” said F.S. Sherani the coordinator of CEC. Hindustani Music Club students performed the “Jugal bandhi”. The session then started with “Padhant”- a poetry recitation forum. Alisha Zaidi recited the poem of Basheer Badr and was applauded by the people. “I rise” was also recited by Snowy Rahi. Then Omar Ghazi entertained people with Slam Poetry “I don’t want to speak” and gathered interest in the crowd.
“Padhant- from romance to protest” a poetry recitation forum was also conducted where Saif Mahmood, a literary personality, translator and an author read the collection of poetry from Faiz Ahmad Faiz to John Elia. Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s couplets were also recited in the program. “It’s an amazing event” exclaimed Abdullah, a second-year student of bachelors listening to the couplets of Ahmed Faraz. In the evening RJ Naved, the radio Mirchi host entertained the people. “Do not hide your personality and be what you are?” said Radio Jockey in front of the crowd of students. The first-day event ended with the cultural evening.
Day 2 (March 4)
Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) Literary Festival 2017 continued on its second day. There were panel discussions, lectures and some poetry recitation forums. Social political issues to social media to Indian Literature various panels carried on various discussions.
The first panel of the second day was on the topic “Communal vote banks and the dynamics of representation”. “Being a Gandhian if someone says is an insult to him nowadays”, answered Tushar Gandhi, to a question in a panel discussion. The other panelists Nakul Singh Swahney, maker of documentary ‘Muzaffarnagar Baki hai’ and Omair Ahmad an Indian writer also spoke on the topic candidly. The discussion continued with a next panel on the topic “Making our voices heard” and panelists Hansda Sowendra Shekhar, who is an Adivasi writer, Omair Ahmad and Chandrahas Chaudhry a novelist. “Writer should focus on his work instead of focussing on resistance or activism”, said H S Shekhar expressing his views.
It was followed by a panel “Social media, digitization and Indian Languages”. The talk was initiated with the theme that the old concept was to stick to classicism of language. Asif Naqvi, one of the panelists and Prof. of Museology, mentioned the case of Gurmeher Kaur for the quick mobilization it generated among the masses. “The importance of script has been marginalised due to the digitization of language. You can come across old letters and remember how you felt at that time, digitisation doesn’t give you that freedom”, said Najma Rehmani, Asst. Prof at Delhi University (DU) and one among panelists. The discussion was concluded with a note that social media is an ocean of information from which you have to sieve out your priorities. There was also a poetry reading session with Aditi Rao, an Indian poet and the house was then opened for the discussion with students.
In the evening there was a lecture by Sahitya Academy Award winner Shri Ashok Vajpeyi on the topic “Samkal Mein Yuva – Swapn aur Sahitya” followed by a poetry reading session. “Dreams are for youth and you can capture them via literature,” he said focusing on the importance of language and literature. Day two of AMU Literary Festival 2017 was concluded with “Dastan Goi” a 16th century Urdu oral storytelling art form.
Day 3 (March 5)
The fest concluded on March 5, 2017, with a valedictory lecture by Mr Tushar Gandhi, on his book entitled “Let’s kill Gandhi” followed by “Mushaira”. The evening was also graced by a legendary Bollywood actress Ms Swara Bhaskar.
The day started with a flagship writing workshop by Terribly Tiny Tales (TTT), at Kennedy Auditorium Complex. It’s the world’s largest micro-fiction platform. There were then panel discussions on various topics. “We are living in post-truth times”, said Mr Manoj K Jha, national spokesperson RJD (Rashtriya Janta Dal) and one of the panelists. He further added that it is the time when truth is being assassinated. Well, then audience were given time to enjoy a poetry reading session. Poets Aditi Rao and Shivani Kohli read their self-composed poetry and students were also given chance to read on stage. Feminism to women empowerment to nationalism and rights were the themes displayed in the poetry. Another panel on “Iqbal and Tagore” took place, with Mr Zafar Anjum, a Singapore-based author and a journalist, joined by Dr Irfanullah Farooqui, the Asst Prof. at AMU. “Iqbal was one of the early nationalists and had views holding power” answered Mr Zafar Anjum on a question of Hyper-Nationalism. Both of them presented their views in the light of poetry and its political relation to Tagore and Iqbal. In the evening there was also a talk with Swara Bhaskar, Bollywood actress and a social activist, on whether “Contemporary Bollywood Cinema challenging gender stereotypes”. She gave various examples to support her views and said the audience is putting pressure on cinema to produce something unbiased.
The last evening of the three-day event saw prize distribution ceremony, at Kennedy Complex. AMU Vice Chancellor, Lt. General Zameeruddin Shah was also present. Mr Tushar Gandhi distributed the prizes to the winners of online events. Later he also delivered a valedictory lecture on his book entitled “Let’s Kill Gandhi”. “Nobody except RSS killed Gandhi”, Mr Tushar explained to the audience supported by a variety of examples from his book. The AMU Literary Festival 2017 ended successfully. Poets like Shakil Azmi and Gopal Das Neeraj with various couplets of “Iqbal and Azad” poured honey in the evening with MUSHAIRA.