Taj lit fest: The spirit lives on (Letter from Agra)
Agra: There has been an upsurge in creative activities following the Taj Literature Festival in February, with several new groups actively pursuing literary goals.
"At this rate we should see a rich crop of young authors and poets at the next festival," Harvijay Bahia, the chief mentor of the event, said.
A few months ago, the Agra Book Club was formed at the initiative of medical practitioner Shivani Chaturvedi. Books are read and discussed. The idea is to promote the reading habit among youngsters and just about anyone else. It`s become a good forum for creative communication.
"The club is a meeting point of people who thrive on literature, art, theatre, music, culture and films. The club has had several rounds of discussion, and our membership, open through a Facebook page, is increasing," said Somya Kishore, a key member of the club.
The Uttar Pradesh Mahila Lekhika Manch, the Agra Lekhika Sangh and several other outfits have already become active ahead of the next Taj Literature Festival in December.
The latest in the series is the Young Writers of Agra Association, announced earlier this week by Captain Sahil Fauzdar of the merchant navy, who is also an ace photographer.
"This undoubtedly is a more concrete project with far-reaching implications in the days to come," Bahia said.
Backed by businesswoman Ranjana Bansal, who has provided an air-conditioned hall, publisher Atul Jain who has promised to open a library, and Bahia, whose golden touch ensures success, the association will not only scout writing talent but groom them.
"Before the next festival we should have a volume ready with contributions from these young aspiring authors for release," Bahia assured.
Noted author Hemant Kumar has agreed to hold a workshop later this month to give useful tips to and guide the young authors.
"We intend to invite more celebrated authors to interact with the young local talent," Hemant Kumar said.
Senior schoolteachers of St Peter`s College, DPS Agra and Prelude School are actively involved in this programme.
"Agra abounds in talent of all kinds, but there are few outlets and hardly any serious platforms for exposure of the young ones," rued young author Anshul Sharma.
"A large number of kids these days are copying Chetan Bhagat`s style and working on stories that depict campus life in all its rawness and gay abandon. Many kids are writing poems and posting on social media sites. But the process of grooming and guidance is helpful," said Anubhav, a schoolteacher.
"The writing bug has hit Agra," said Fauzdar, whose organisation already has 38 teenaged writers, poets and novelists registered. "They are sharing notes, discussing and helping one another. The volume to be published before the Festival will be proof of it all."
"The whole idea of starting the literature festival in Agra was to motivate and inspire youngsters to contribute to the literary heritage of the Taj city which unfortunately has a negative and `wasteland" image`, Bahia said.
"Preparations for the next literature festival have begun and this time we will not only do better but leave our footprint on the national literary firmament," he added.
Bahia has reasons to be hopeful. The three-day festival in February was attended by more than 40 literary luminaries and celebrities including Shobha De, Prahlad Kakkar, Ashok Chakradhar, Reginald Massey, Lipa Rath, Milan Bohra, Neelesh Mishra, Farooq Shaikh and Muzaffar Ali, among others.