By Tamara Serukur, Grade 10
The Neev Literature Festival never fails to amaze me. After having spent the weekend of the festival visiting various masterclasses, talking to the other readers at NLF, and listening to the creators behind some of the fabulous books that were featured by the NLF, I realised something rather bittersweet. I miss my childhood. I miss those days where the clock was simply a shape, the sun was an indicator of a good day, and reaching back home from school meant the end of a day. At NLF, there were some key takeaways which resonated with me.
Being true to oneself makes for the best stories. During his masterclass, Priyankar Gupta inspired us all to be fearless when it comes to being creative. While I’m no artist myself, it was interesting to see how unnecessarily sceptical I was, constantly needing to perfect everything. It also made me realise that I’ve almost abandoned that sense of fearlessness that I once possessed as a child. Gupta commented on this need for perfection and speculated about how it may inhibit creativity and therefore, your narrative. You see, when someone dares to go beyond the already imagined, is when people get to see a new side of the story, thereby opening up more ways to explore and discuss an idea. In this case, it meant that exploring your visual style could lead to redefining what an ‘acceptable’ piece of work may look like to you, and perhaps to others.
Priyankar also advised that we learn to make fun of ourselves, as that’s the only way in which we can evaluate ourselves and truly flesh out our creative style. I found this statement to be universal, as only when one allows themselves to make mistakes and understand where they originate from, can one understand what matters for their creation, or in this case, story.
Writing from one’s own life is easier said than done. To Nandita Basu, it meant finding beauty in the simplicities of life. Before this session, I would have never even thought to ponder upon the constant thoroughness and determination one needs to be a comic writer. While being walked through their ideation and creation stages, I was immediately reminded of myself. As someone who has a stronger inclination towards music rather than visual arts, it was interesting to see how artists, regardless of their medium, all feel the need for perfectionism, and this yearning and strive for such perfection can make one forget their original and inherent aim altogether – to capture their lives through a personal, raw and authentic medium.
For Nandita Basu, capturing real stories through a personal and authentic medium was key for a successful book for both herself and her audience. From changing the font size and type, to completely changing a character’s design, stylistic choices were influenced by not only the creator, but also the scores of people who work behind the scenes. This made me realise that while the idea of a story might stem from the individual creator, bringing a story to life requires a team who understands their vision and its impact on society. When authors begin to push the boundaries of literature, is when people begin to see a new side to the industry.
An event that will be cherished for time to come was the Motley Theatre troupe performing recitations of poems by Vikram Seth and James Thurber from the collection Beastly Tales from Here and There. Seeing some of my favourite film actors coming and gracing my school with their presence was something I hadn’t ever dreamed of. As an animal lover, I enjoyed every bit of each poem. From Naseeruddin Shah’s incredibly accurate and captivating mimicry of various animals, to Ratna Pathak’s clever use of various vocal techniques to signify a new character, I did not even blink for fear of missing a single moment. The actors’ passionate performances brought out the subtle beauty of the poems. Their brilliant mimicry and personification made for a most entertaining evening, bringing out the inner child in every member of the audience.