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HTKGAF 2018: How to keep regional literature relevant

The discussion looked back on the Granthali Movement of 1970s Maharashtra, which began with the aim of contemporary writers and their works to the masses.

mumbai Updated: Feb 07, 2018 01:21 IST
Shreya Bhandary
Shreya Bhandary
Hindustan Times
MUMBAI,HTKGAF,KALA GHODA ARTS FESTIVAL 2018
It was not just a readers’ movement but also a cultural movement in Maharashtra, Gangal added.(HEMANSHI KAMANI/HT)

What needs to change about regional-language literature in order to enable it to remain relevant in a world of instant communication and social media?

That was the central theme of a lively discussion held as part of the Hindustan Times Kala Ghoda Arts Festival on Tuesday evening, featuring journalist Kumar Ketkar and publicist Dhananjay Gangal.

The discussion looked back on the Granthali Movement of 1970s Maharashtra, which began with the aim of contemporary writers and their works to the masses.

“Granthali was more of a reader’s movement than a publisher’s movement. Literature in the 1970s was very elitist and belonged to writers of pre- and post-Independence India. The contemporary writing was missing,” Ketkar said.

Ketkar was one of the four founding members of that movement, which worked to encourage readers and writers in the remotest parts of the state.

It was not just a readers’ movement but also a cultural movement in Maharashtra, Gangal added.

While the revolution flourished until the mid-1980s, TV and then the internet and social media slowed its momentum. “All forms of media are undergoing a radical change right now and we have to move with the audience in order to survive,” Ketkar said, adding that it wasn’t just books but also theatre and film that were undergoing change.

“When we started Granthali, rural Maharashtra had barely any forms of communication. Today, even a child owns a mobile phone in any part of the country,” Ketkar added.

The movement’s current leaders are doing everything they can to ensure it survives, Gangal added. “Converting books to audio books is one of the options we have at present,” he said.

That made a lot of sense to some of the younger people in the audience, who were eager to see more regional-language literature brought onto social media platforms.

“Just like books in English, publishers should work towards making regional literature available in soft copy, on Kindle. That way it would be more accessible to all,” said Rishi Bhattad, 28, a content writer from Powai.

“Regional literature has been translated into various languages but the essence of Marathi literature lies in the language,” added Balchandra More, 55, a retired teacher from Shivaji Park. “Hopefully regional literature will once again see a revival soon.”

First Published: Feb 07, 2018 01:21 IST