Non-fiction literature fest draws diverse crowd

Aarefa Johari

India, June 22 -- From food security and communalism to the difficulties of making bold films, the first day of the India Non Fiction Festival, which opened on Friday, featured various panel discussions with economists, journalists, businesspeople and filmmakers.

The three-day fest at Worli's Nehru Centre has been organised by knowledge media company LeapVault to promote non-fiction writing across genres.

The opening day was attended by professionals, school and college students and non-fiction fans. Most of the sessions centred on the festival's theme, 'Be bold, stay real'.

In an afternoon session, filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt led a discussion on what it means to be 'bold' in an industry where films have to be commercially viable.

"Films were more transgressive 20 years ago, but today, the spirit of boldness has dwindled and films have become more timid," said film scholar MK Raghavendra, whose book, Director's Cut: 50 Major Filmmakers of the Modern Era, was launched during the session.

Bhatt argued that filmmakers often have to lock horns with the state or others in the industry when trying to make unconventional cinema. "Unless we endorse the beliefs and culture of society, our films are not accepted by the audience," he said.

In another session, ' Bold and Real', journalist and author Tavleen Singh discussed the perils of dynastic politics and the proposed Food Security Bill.

"The Food Security Bill will only offer handouts to the poor," she said. Citing the RTE Act, which makes it mandatory for private schools to reserve seats for low-income students, she added, "It is scandalous that the government has absolved itself of what it is meant to do."

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.