Panel Discussion 1: A Sense of Place in Picture Books


  Date: 10th October 2020   |  Time: 10:40 – 11:10 AM


Sneha Iype Varma is the Founder / Partner / Executive Producer of Nirvana Films. As one-half of the director producer duo that founded ‘Nirvana Films’ in 2001, Sneha has produced over 500 films this far. Under her supervision, Nirvana has been listed consecutively as “India’s Best production House “- Brand Equity: Economic times survey 2007 until 2019.’Nirvana’ is best known for the work done for Vodafone India, apart from several tourism campaigns including the Incredible India campaigns.
Sneha’s vision for Nirvana helped it grow from a single director company to include a panel of directors, with a presence in Mumbai and Bangalore. Nirvana has been awarded at Cannes, London International, and several other platforms. Giving voice to the production scenario in India, Sneha often finds herself on jury panels (Cannes Lions 2012 film craft), Ciclope festival at Berlin and Japan (Nov 2014/ 2019) and speaker forums – Tedx India / IMRB and workshops.
She has also published a short story that she wrote, as part of a book called – ‘Dog stories’ based on Cheeka, a pug that changed Indian Advertising. Apart from managing work, Sneha manages her three children, several dogs and juggles other challenging duties with complete calm.




Nandana Dev Sen is writer, actor and child-rights activist, Nandana has authored 6 children’s books, translated into 15 languages globally. Her first, “Kangaroo Kisses,” was selected by 320 U.K. nurseries as a “Book of Excellence”, and she has conducted workshops with over 30,000 children across the world. An award-winning international actor, she has starred in 20 feature films from four continents.

Nandana is Ambassador for Child Protection for Save the Children India. She has partnered with UNICEF, Apne Aap and NCPCR to fight and end child-trafficking. Winner of the Last Girl Champion Award, Nandana has served on the jury of multiple child-rights commissions, international literary awards and film festivals. After studying literature at Harvard and filmmaking at U.S.C., Nandana worked as a book editor, a screenwriter, a poetry translator, a first responder to teens in crisis, and as Princess Jasmine in Disneyland.


Niveditha Subramaniamis a children’s book writer, illustrator and researcher. She cherishes every opportunity to celebrate her abiding love for visuals and has published 15 books ranging from picture books to teen fiction and a graphic novel for young adults. Mayil Will Not Be Quiet!, which she co-authored with Sowmya Rajendran, won the Bal Sahitya Puraskar (2015) awarded by the Sahitya Akademi. Niveditha is an Erasmus Scholar (2019-2021) and a Charles Wallace India Trust Scholar (2015-2017).



Debjani Mukherjee is an independent animation filmmaker, author, illustrator, researcher and educator. Presently she is pursuing PhD from IDC School of Design, IIT Bombay and is the HOD of the Department of Animation and Motion Graphics at Unitedworld Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. She graduated from the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, in 2009. She is also the co-founder of ‘BOL-The language of Children’, a not-for-profit based in India, contributing towards community filmmaking and engaging community youth to share their own stories through the powerful medium of art. Her research interests include animation, documentary, collaborative filmmaking, writing and designing books for children and indigenous art pedagogy. She is currently working on an animated documentary using ‘collaborative practices’ as her methodology.


Vinitha is a flaneur, a forever-hungry-story-devourer and a storyteller. Also, an author, editor and columnist, Vinitha has written 25 books for children. Two of her stories are part of CBSE curriculum and one, part of ICSE curriculum. Now that her stories are being used to torture children in school, she feels her purpose on earth is complete. Yet she continues to wander and to write. Her book Sera Learns to Fly, won FICCI’s the Best Children’s Book of the Year Award in 2019. She lives in Mumbai with her two teenaged kids and a non-stop chattering-voice-in-her-head; writes poetry for a lark, and is in the midst of writing a food memoir.


Rinchin is a writer and an activist based in Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh. She also writes for children and her writing reflects her social engagement with several people movements for the past two decades. She loves stories, and feels that everyone should have some to read that reflect the world around them. Rinchin’s style is her rare and powerful storytelling technique through which she explores issues using her feather-light touch. Some of her books published are – Sabri’s Colours (2009), The Magical Fish (2013), Trickster Bird (2016) and I will Save My Land (2017), which won the Neev Book Award for the Best Picture Book in 2018. Several picture books and collection of stories have been published by publishers like Tulika Books and Eklavya.


Shobha Viswanath As co-founder and Publishing Director of Karadi Tales Company, Shobha Viswanath has been responsible for steering the direction of her company from brilliantly produced audio books for children to creating new imprints for her publishing house such as Dreaming Fingers – illustrated books for the visually disabled, Charkha – inspiring biographies for young adults, and beautifully illustrated picture books for young children. Internationally recognized and having won several awards for the quality of books produced, Shobha is now active in converting the books to other platforms such as digital apps, animated books and e books. She is an avid collector of picture books from around the world. She lives in Chennai with 732 books, 14 plants, one daughter and one husband.