The Radio program of Hyderabad Literary Festival 2020

The three days in the radio of the fes­ti­val were full of sur­pris­es on so many dimen­sions. We tried to think of for­mats before­hand, we tried to be pre­pared in a mod­u­lar way — any sit­u­a­tion which aris­es, to give it an imme­di­ate shape.

The mul­ti­tude of top­ics in the fes­ti­val were reach­ing the radio pret­ty fast. Every year, Hyder­abad Lit­er­ary fes­ti­val has a cel­e­brat­ed lan­guage. This year the lan­guage was Malay­alam, spo­ken in the Indi­an state of Ker­ala and the union ter­ri­to­ries of Lak­shad­weep and Puducher­ry. Dur­ing our times with the stu­dents, we were taught that Malay­alam is one of those as dif­fi­cult as beau­ti­ful Indi­an lan­guages so we did not know much. One of the Malay­alam speak­ing invi­tees was Benyamin nov­el­ist and short sto­ry writer from south Indi­an state of Ker­ala.

A talk with the Malay­alam nov­el­ist Benyamin right after his pan­el in the fes­ti­val

We played games in Malay­alam. Even some of us who heard it before had dif­fi­cul­ties not turn­ing the moment into a com­ic one. There were moments of micro­phone pass­ing when peo­ple lit­er­al­ly ran away.

Game in Malay­alam

A musi­cian pass­ing by respond­ed to his own tools.

Respond­ing to the lan­guage game with instru­ments.

Every year, Hyder­abad Lit­er­ary Fes­ti­val invites a nation which means that there is a major­i­ty of writ­ers and thinkers from a spe­cif­ic ter­ri­to­ry that join the dia­logues cre­at­ed inside of the fes­ti­val. This year the nation was Aus­tralia and spe­cial atten­tion was giv­en to Abo­rig­i­nal Aus­tralian peo­ples writ­ings. In this frame­work we had the plea­sure to hear the poet­ry of Alfred Tay­lor. Alf is a mem­ber of the Stolen Gen­er­a­tion and Australia’s lead­ing senior Nyoon­gar writer. He gift­ed us his vol­ume Long Time Now and made us laugh out loud at the won­ders of his mag­nif­i­cent writ­ings.

In con­ver­sa­tion with the poet Alfred Tay­lor with Kier­an Dolin

Our ambi­tion was to bring diverse voic­es from the Telan­gana region to the fes­ti­val. Voic­es of peo­ple that would not make it to the fes­ti­val, of whose con­tent is lit­er­a­ture to us and yet their rep­re­sen­ta­tion in cul­tur­al envi­ron­ments is often over­looked.

What can be lit­er­a­ture in vil­lages? Parve­da Chan­dra Kiran and Vaishalee Das.

What was unique and extreme­ly inter­est­ing about the radio is that peo­ple approached us to speak their mind. In the case of some­thing we con­scious­ly saved time for was the Girls Talk how we called it with­in the team. With or with­out our plan­ning, the Girl Talk hap­pened spon­ta­neous­ly, expand­ed it’s gen­ders, grew in impor­tance and top­ics and for sure exceed­ed the reg­u­lar radio lim­its. The first day: Men­stru­al hygiene and edu­ca­tion strate­gies.

Girls Talk — Men­stru­al hygiene

In the entrance to the fes­ti­val, numer­ous cre­ative expres­sion forms that could eas­i­ly hap­pen in the radio as well, hap­pened on a stage with a micro­phone and speak­ers where any time one would pass by, anoth­er sur­pris­ing per­for­mance would hap­pen on the scale from slam poet­ry to dance and music, com­e­dy and dra­ma. One of the engines for this hap­pen­ing not only for the fes­ti­val but on a dai­ly basis, is The Nation’s Rock Beat from Hyder­abad who is dai­ly work­ing to empow­er and encour­age young peo­ple to fol­low their desired forms of expres­sion.

Girls from The Nation’s Rock Beat

On the sec­ond day, the girls talk was an exper­i­ment. We thought about how it would be to open the con­ver­sa­tion and broad to a con­tro­ver­sial theme such as well­ness. It result­ed in a broad, diverse, the­o­ret­i­cal, post colo­nial, feminsit ori­ent­ed dis­cus­sion denounc­ing var­i­ous body relat­ed prej­u­dices.

Girls talk against Well­ness

The ease in Paromi­ta Vohra’s speech was an after­noon treat to the lis­ten­ers gath­ered around her. Paromi­ta usu­al­ly explores fem­i­nism, love and desire, urban life, and pop­u­lar cul­ture. She is the founder and Cre­ative Direc­tor of Agents of Ishq, India’s best-loved web­site about sex, love and desire. Paromi­ta gave her two cents and wis­dom on love and dat­ing, love and accom­mo­dat­ing in our­selves diverse feel­ings.

Paromi­ta Vohra “dif­fer­ent peo­ple feel dif­fer­ent things”

Their appear­ance — spec­tac­u­lar. Their speech — sharp and pre­cise. Anoth­er insight­ful dia­logue we had with Expres­sion­ist Dancer, Per­for­mance Artist, and a Tran­i­mal Drag per­former Patruni Chi­danan­da Sas­try. Bina­ries have been put aside.

Patruni Chi­danan­da Sas­try about the basics of Drag in Indi­an tra­di­tion

Prej­u­dices on beau­ty and plea­sure. Stu­dents went around the fes­ti­val and asked peo­ple what they think about when they think about plea­sure. The very sur­pris­ing and closed up respons­es deter­mined the team to go on by ask­ing: what do you think about when you think about sex­u­al plea­sure. This trig­gered anoth­er free­ing after­noon delight when the Girls talk turned into everybody’s talk.

Girls talk — Beau­ty and Plea­sure

Saba Dewan, the author who writes exten­sive­ly on the art and lifestyle of the tawaifs or cour­te­sans, gave our team togeth­er to her sur­prise to our team’s ques­tion: what is sex­u­al plea­sure to you, her opin­ion on how to exceed the tabu of talk­ing about plea­sure

Saba Dewan about sex­u­al plea­sure

Jai Undur­ti & Fabi­an Stoltz talk­ing about plea­sure

The authors Jai Undur­ti & Fabi­an Stoltz, just after launch­ing their book Invent­ing the City get dragged into our dis­cus­sion on plea­sure. Drag­ging it also into draw­ing.

The fes­ti­val was sit­u­at­ed in the build­ing and court­yard of the his­tor­i­cal build­ing of the Vid­yaranya High School of Hyder­abad. Usu­al­ly a home for knowl­edge ded­i­cat­ed to young adults and chil­dren, the place kept it’s char­ac­ter through­out the fes­ti­val. It was even easy for the pupils to attend the fes­ti­val with no imped­i­ment from their par­ents.

Stu­dents of the Vid­yaranya High School vis­it the radio for the last min­utes of the first day of the Fes­ti­val

We broad­cast­ed over sev­er­al com­mu­ni­ty radios in Europe, but most impor­tant­ly over Bol Hyder­abad on the cam­pus of the Uni­ver­si­ty. We were vis­it­ed by a reg­u­lar radio mak­er of Bol who was on the oth­er side of the radio for a moment, being the one ques­tioned.

In con­ver­sa­tion with DJ Bala, Bol Hyder­abad

Maha Venkatesh and Praveena Paruchuri address their talk to Euro­pean lis­ten­ers on the dif­fi­cul­ties and beau­ty their films involve. They are exper­i­ment­ing in film mak­ing and reached Nation­al Prize lev­el.

In con­ver­sa­tion with Maha Venkatesh and Praveena Paruchuri

We pre­pared spe­cial insects sound for when Khyrun­nisa A., the prize-win­ning author of children’s fic­tion came by our lit­tle couch. She cre­at­ed the pop­u­lar com­ic char­ac­ter But­terfin­gers for the children’s mag­a­zine, but also a ‘The Lizard of Oz and Oth­er Sto­ries’ which looks at the world from ani­mals’ per­spec­tive. She also read from ‘Tongue In Cheek, The Fun­ny Side of Life’, zoom­ing in to the lit­tle dra­ma of every­day life of women in India.

Khyrun­nisa A. shares her writ­ing and her approach of char­ac­ters

In the fes­ti­val one could attend work­shops as well. That attract­ed a lot of peo­ple and enhanced var­i­ous forms of cre­ativ­i­ty. We had the chance to chat with the love­ly and humor­ous Kala Ramesh who writes and teach­es haiku, tan­ka, hai­bun and renku peo­ple of all ages.

A few ques­tions about Haiku with Kala Ramesh

What else is lit­er­a­ture? We con­veyed that it could be sto­ry-telling. Sto­ry­telling is some­thing else all over the world. In HLF it had many many faces. Rach­na Chowla uses sto­ry­telling as one of ther­a­pies with her clients and believes any sto­ry is an extra­or­di­nary sto­ry on an ordi­nary day.

Rach­na Chowla talks about sto­ries, tales, fables

Sto­ry tellers on air. Giv­ing their best for all kinds of lis­ten­ers.

Sto­ry teller Saad Muhammed

Lat­er after hear­ing about the Tale tellers group, we had the plea­sure to get a heart-mov­ing sto­ry from them. Prob­a­bly told the sec­ond time the same day.

Tale tellers group

Where else is lit­er­a­ture? Ms She­fali Rao, the Co-Founder of Food4Thought Foun­da­tion vis­it­ed us for an account on spread­ing smart­ly and effi­cient­ly libraries and beyond — short­ly facil­i­tat­ing wide access to var­i­ous knowl­edge.

She­fali Rao, the Co-Founder of Food4Thought

In a mobile radio sit­u­a­tion any­where, but espe­cial­ly in a lit­er­ary fes­ti­val, the attrac­tion for peo­ple to speak and share their thoughts and ideas is inevitable and also encap­su­lates the whole start­ing engine to a com­mu­ni­ty feel­ing. Satish Man­dala­parthy, aka Crim­son worked with All India Radio & Red FM as an RJ & Pro­gram­ming pro­duc­er. He shared some of his ideas on what is the place of radio in his life and beyond.

Satish Man­dala­parthy about radio

Near the end of our last day, we got to talk about the future. The future of HLF, in the midst of cel­e­brat­ing 10 years anniver­sary with one of the direc­tors of the fes­ti­val Vid­jay Kumar.

Future with Vid­jay Kumar

In the mid­dle of so much lit­er­a­ture, we had the plea­sure to hear from some­one who got inspired to write and to speak out a fresh poem.

Poem writ­ten in the fes­ti­val

Abhisheck brought a lit­tle bit of con­cern over his attempt and take on trans­la­tion. Then he near­ly became a radio mem­ber.

We talked about mak­ing radio art. The few days of Radio Mis­ch­poke alto­geth­er with their process­es, were full days of a kind of work in which we most­ly facil­i­tates access to expres­sion from the top­ic to the tech­nique. In the last few sec­onds of the live trans­mis­sion, we gave a lit­tle noise and voice to the streets and it’s lit­er­a­ture.

The street is loud and full of lit­er­a­ture with Jas­mi­na and Ralf

Radio Team:

Shru­ti Maithani, Ananya Baru­ah, Ananya Mukhopad­hyay, Nimisha S Pradeep, N.S Nitish, Treesa Reena John, P Keerthi, Parve­da Chan­dra Kiran, R Sri Rohith, Sowmya Red­dy, Vaishalee Das.

Spe­cial thanks to: the fan­tas­tic audi­ence that vis­it­ed our couch.

Ques­tion from the audi­ence: How are we pick­ing our top­ics?