What women write

Thursday, 19 December 2019

In its third edition, Women Writers’’ Festival brings to its audience, women in translations, the journey of women characters, and the women in entertainment industry

Pune being the city at the forefront of women’s movements for centuries, it is no surprise that the organisers of Women Writers’ Fest are more than excited for this year’s event. Organised by SheThePeople.TV every year, the Women Writers’ Festival is back in Pune for the third time after being around six cities in the country.

Writing being one of the most go-to forms of self-expression, women have been penning down their stories, creating new ones, and sharing fellow women’s stories through their books, blogs and publications.

“This year’s festival will see women writers from varied genres come together and discuss issues important to the cultural and social fabric of the city. There will be panel discussions on the feminist voice in fiction and non-fiction, nutrition and fitness, contemporary women’s writing, poetry and women in business. These are all going to be an inspiration for the women in attendance,” says author Sudha Menon, who is curating the Pune edition of the festival along with Archana Pai Kulkarni, Books editor, SheThePeople TV.

“Every year, the idea is to raise the bar, discuss new subjects, and bring about discussions with the evolution of the written word,” says Shaili Chopra, founder of SheThePeople.TV.

The feel of language
One of the panels at the fest will speak on the relevance of translation in today’s day and age. “It is important to do this now more than ever,” says Menon, adding, “We are largely turning into an English-speaking and English-reading country. The rich regional literature will soon be at risk of getting lost, if it is not already. Which is why translations are crucial. Dr Vijaya Deo, a Pune-based poet who has translated a lot of poet Bhupen Hazarika’s songs into Marathi, will be part of this discussion. When I was first approached for this translation, I was shocked but grabbed the opportunity in no time,” she says, adding, “It was no easy task. The crucial bit was to understand the essence of Hazarika’s Assamese poets and then recreate the same magic in Marathi. Word-to-word translations was not the point.”

The poetess says that, in translations, it is important to know that every language has a unique feel that must be retained and yet the new piece must sound fresh and authentic. “I even made a few singers sing my Marathi translations before finalishing them. For those three and a half months, I was on a high. Khup majja ali (It was too much fun),” she exclaims.

Another highlight for this year’s feat, according to Menon, is of women scripting their own stories in the entertainment industry. “They are slowly changing the roles women get to play in the world of theatre and films. Actors Parna Pethe and Rigvedi Pradhan will speak of this change and share their stories of the world of film and theatre,” Menon elaborates.

There’s another session that speaks of creating ‘grey’ women characters by women authors, and one on the portrayal of women by women across the past-present-future. Authors Sunanda Mehta, Kiran Manral, Yamini Pustake Bhalerao will enlighten the audience on their ‘not-so-nice’ women characters in this session.

The panel on Women - Then and Now will have Archana Pai Kulkarni, Aparna Upadhyaya, Rochelle Potkar and Sanika Dashasahastra. They will speak of what has changed with regard to the representation of women in literature.

Women, all the way
Of this year’s Pune chapter, Chopra says that the festival is customised to every city that it goes to, in the sense that the local content is prioritised. “By local, we do not just mean that city, but the region, in general. Women are doing wonders with their writing, scripts, blogs, books, and more. It’s Women Writers’ Fest attempt to connect, engage and elevate this community,” she says of the festival that has recently added Lucknow and Hyderabad to its list of Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad and Kolkata editions.

The Women Writers’ festival, Menon sums up, has helped women come together, network, grow and inspire each other at a time when women’s narratives are more important than ever. “While it helps and educates a number of budding writers in Pune every year, we do not limit it to just writing either. It is about bringing women’s issues to the table in every possible way across every possible profession,” she concludes.

The Women Writers’ Festival 2019 will be held Sunderban Resort, Koregaon Park on December 21, from 11 am to 4 pm. Entry free.

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