I curated Jumpstart 2014, a children’s content festival, along with Manasi Subramaniam and Anita Roy. The theme was Let’s Play!
It was about highlighting the need for play at all stages of life – for kids and also for adults, especially adults creating content for kids. Play is a state of mind that encourages exploration and this can be done while you’re playing hopscotch or climbing a tree or even reading a book. Our panels focussed on this – play when you read, when you write, when you draw, when you teach, when you learn.We looked at play and its connection to creative work where writers and illustrators shared how play fits into their creative process and how it helps them to connect with the world of the child. Then we looked at play and pedagogy where experts told us how critical it is to keep the element of play in a learning environment and showed us how they do it. And finally, we looked at play and how to adapt as we tell stories across media.
Here are some links to the programme:
Playschool: Play and Pedagogy with Amukta Mahapatra, EK Shaji and Sujata Noronha:
Ctrl Alt Del: Storytelling in a Time of Technology with Ralph Mollers and Nury Vittachi:
An interview with me about the Bangalore event:
A celebration of listening
Many Echoes, Many Worlds
Iram Ghufran and I curated a package of soundworks for the 10th IAWRT’s Asian Womens Film Festival. Here is the Curatorial Note and the selected works.
Soundphiles is a celebration of listening at the 10th IAWRT’s Asian Womens Film Festival. Our worlds today are navigated increasingly through images with sound running as a hidden layer, a track that runs incessantly and yet remains invisible. Unseen but layering every moment. We know this well in film practice where the image has a frame but sound can be limitless. And yet, despite the growing number of festivals, focussed listening contexts are fewer, limited to radio and art gallery spaces, with each providing room for a particular kind of sound practice. Soundphiles is an attempt to bring into focus the act of listening via multiple forms of sound practice and to explore whether we begin to listen differently to the soundtracks of our lives.
In the first edition of Soundphiles, we sought work from diverse practices, from radio journalism to more experimental sound art. This curation – Many Echoes, Many Worlds – comprises works by filmmakers, artists, journalists and media/arts students. Their work brought in a diversity of worlds in a variety of forms – the rhythm of the textile mills of Malegaon, broken sounds from the contested streets of London, a deafening bombing in Iran, scratchy magnetic tracks of old Hindi films, spoken word poetry, an ethereal dreamscape in Turkey…
The soundtracks in Many Echoes, Many Worlds are diverse – there are narrative stories, there is music, there are pieces that transport the listener into a world built only through sound. These forms echo the simultaneity of the many worlds we inhabit today. By bringing these into the cinematic space in the absence of visual, it is our hope that we will reflect on these overlapping soundscapes in new ways and listen to the role that sound plays in creating stories, evoking experiences and provoking thought.
Samina Mishra & Iram Ghufran
January 2014, Delhi
1. Consciousness of Dreams (7:08 min, India)
by Anupam Purkayastha & Ankita Purkayastha
2. Empathy (5:28 min, India)
by Komal Sachdeva and Sana Amir
3. Farz-I Muhal/As If (4:47 min, Turkey)
by Nazli Deniz
4. Kabariiiiaaaaa (6:32 min, India)
by Rashmi Kaleka
5. PCO1: Rangoon (1:18 min, India)
by Paromita Vohra
6. Threads As Yet Undone (5 min, India)
by Ruchika Negi and Amit Mahanti
7. Transmissions From A Missing Satellite (7min, Pakistan)
by Mehreen Murtaza
8. Switchboard 1:Ruby The Telephone Operator (2:56 min, India)
by Paromita Vohra
9. We Want Justic (2:30min, India)
by Namrata Mehta
10. Rehearsal for a poem (2:21 min, India)
by Saba Hasan
11. War from 1980 till today (4:36 min, Iran)
by Shiva Sanjari
12. Leaving (7:12 min, India/USA)
by Shumona Goel and Michael Northam
13. Neuro-ICU (5:28 min, India)
by Sindhu Thirumalaisamy
14. [re]locate (the attack) (5:26 min, UK)
by Tahera Aziz
15. August (Edited) (5:41, India)
by Usha Rao
Here is a link to the programme:
Crossword Book Award 2013 for Children’s Books
I was on the jury for the Crossword Children’s Book Award 2013. We read more than 90 books to decide the winner. The award was split between two authors — Payal Kapadia and Uma Krishnaswami. Here is the citation note:
As seasoned readers who pore through books on a routine basis, it isn’t often that we sit up and gasp and exclaim, WOW! This year while perusing the collection submitted to us by the Crossword team it was the books ‘Wisha Wozzariter‘ & ‘Book Uncle and Me’ that triggered this rare flash of exuberant surprise.
Wisha Wozzawriter by Payal Kapadia
The drudgery, complexity and rigour of creative writing are not exactly the ingredients of a story. Rather than the basis of a storybook, and a children’s book at that, this material belongs squarely in the realm of textbooks. The genius of author Payal Kapadia and her pocket-sized creative writing storybook, Wisha Wozzariter, is the manner in which she has transformed such a drab subject into a wonderful, colourful, absorbing book.
Payal’s book is imaginative, creative and witty. It is one of those uncommon books that work at multiple levels. Unfolding as it does at a captivating pace, it weaves in sentences and references that open up myriad worlds of books and ideas. It is a book that a young reader can enjoy for its wackiness and inventiveness, and constantly return to over the years, growing old with it. Not only is it technically sound but above all it is a good, enjoyable read.
Book Uncle & Me by Uma Krishnaswami
One of the continuing struggles in Indian writing in English is the quest for a self-confident voice writing in a language given to us by colonialism. Indian children’s books are still finding a voice that reflects our particularities and yet transcends those to speak of universal ideas, a voice that is neither didactic nor exotic, a voice that can both spark the child’s imagination and lead it towards action. Book Uncle and Me is that rare book.
It weaves a simple story in a voice that is strongly rooted in an Indian context and yet speaks of childhood experiences that cross cultural borders. A broken pavement, a library and a girl who has decided to read one book a day come together in an inspirational story about forging a community to create change. Uma Krishnaswami’s skill in experimenting with form by telling the story entirely in free verse is matched with her nuanced understanding of the child’s world. She recognises that children are capable of negotiating complexity in their everyday lives and refuses to talk down to them. Priya Kurien’s illustrations add another layer of resonance, making Book Uncle and Me a truly unforgettable book.
Samina Mishra, Deepak Dalal, Jaya Bhattacharji Rose
Here are comments on the citation note by both writers:
Uma Krishnaswami I was unable to make it for the awards ceremony last year, so I missed the reading of the citation. Jaya, I’m getting misty-eyed reading it now. So much of a writer’s life and heart goes into a book, and sometimes (OK, I’ll say it–often) it can seem as if no one is paying any attention at all. I’ll treasure what you had to say about my book. It will bolster me when the writing on the next book gets tough (which it will) or the reviews and sales iffy (things I have no control over). Thank you again to Samina Mishra, Deepak Dalal, and you, Jaya Bhattacharji Rose, for your perfect and instinctive understanding of both intention and craft in Book Uncle and Me.
Payal Kapadia Dear Jaya, Deepak and Samina: Wisha had something weighty and worthwhile to say in the face of such a generous tribute! Does a thank-you sufficiently express the gratitude I feel for the warm welcome I’ve received when I’m just the new kid on the block? I was at the awards and I don’t remember the citation being read out — probably because my heart was thumping so fast I could barely think (and still is). Haven’t gotten over the flush of the award, and I’m sure that “the drudgery, complexity and rigor of creative writing” will not appear to be so with your kind words ringing in my ears. I wrote “Wisha Wozzariter” to see if I had it in me to be a writer. Thank you for believing in me — and for showing me that I can take life one book at a time.
101 Indian Children’s Books We Love
Find out all about Indian children’s books in this guide that I co-edited with Anita Roy http://www.timeoutmumbai.net/books/features/bookipedia
I curated a package of student films for the IAWRT festival this year. Here’s my curator’s note: What do we want from the films that we see? While the answer to this question is many-hued, it is true that good films touch both the mind and the heart. They provoke reflection about the world and the times that we live in; and they do this in ways that are aesthetically pleasurable. As practitioners, we are constantly negotiating this balance between content and form and the best works of art are, perhaps, those that arrive at that delicate balance between what we want to say and how we say it. This dance between the story and its philosophical implications is often a difficult thing to communicate in the classroom. Students need to be able to explore the subjective interplay between a work of art and its audience, think about their own responses and then attempt to evoke a response from their own practice. All of this needs time and given the pressures of semesters and schedules in the new university structures that are being imposed on our teaching systems, time is always in short supply, giving faculty anxious moments about the work that the young people will leave with. And so, it is with great pleasure that I have watched a diverse array of films made by today’s young women, all students of different film and media schools from across the country. It’s been a difficult process, sifting and sorting through many well-crafted films, but in the end, what I hope has found its way to the screen are films that have combined this new generation’s instinctive understanding of the visual medium with the myriad stories that need to be told. In this package, there are films about cultural spaces among today’s youth, encounters with maverick people and ephemeral moments, and adaptations of timeless stories. The films that you will see are not only skilled and display an ease with the craft but also point towards a spirit of independence that today’s young women are trying to make sense of and hold on to in the face of a growing cultural intolerance and an overwhelming market-driven homogeneity. Their ways of telling stories are diverse and you will see films that imbue the traditional anthropological gaze of documentaries with an intimate warmth and charm and completely transform the staid interview format into the slow unfurling of a character. The filmmakers look at their own inner worlds as well as at the world around us. They tell stories that resonate, create images that ask questions and give us hope that, in the near future, there are important films to watch out for!
This is a seminar that I helped to organise as part of the IAWRT Asian Women’s Film Festival.
The 8th IAWRT Asian Women’s Film Festival begins with a seminar on children, media and society that will look closely at the debates around ideas of childhood. The seminar presents different voices and approaches to ask critical questions about childhood in our world. Is there a normative childhood or do representations of childhood construct normativity? How are notions of masculinity and femininity framed, represented and imbibed? How do children in contexts of armed conflict or living on the street negotiate these normative representations? Are there ways of looking at childhood that can promote a more inclusive and plural understanding that takes into account the increasing differences thrown up by the new political economy of the world? SCHEDULE 10 am SESSION 1: REPRESENTATION Nandini Chandra, Assistant Professor, Department of English, Delhi Universityframes the debates around ideas of childhood using the representation of children in current advertisements and online videos. Deepa Srinivas, Coordinator, Different Tales project contextualises the stories published under the project and focusses on the need for diverse stories of childhood. Asha Singh, Professor, Lady Irwin College, Delhi University presents from her experience of collaborating on the popular children’s programme, Gali Gali Sim Sim. 12 Noon SESSION 2: SELF EXPRESSION Radha Misra, Head, Department of Communication Media for Children, SNDT Women’s University, Pune presents a mini archive of the ways in which children themselves challenge, subvert and reconfigure their worlds, and present their conceptions of childhood and the worlds they inhabit. LUNCH 2.30 pm SESSION 3: VIOLENCE Shobna Sonpar, Clinical Psychologist and Psychotherapist presents a social-pyschological overview of children and young people in situations of conflict and violence. Dilnaz Boga, Photojournalist and Filmmaker discusses the impact of human rights violations on children in Kashmir with excerpts from her film, Invisible Kashmir. C.Vanaja, Filmmaker screens and discusses her film Platform No.5, a narrative of street children exploring their concepts of love, fear, respect and money. Deep Purkayastha, Founder-Director of Praajak, a Kolkata-based NGO working with boys and men focusses on his experience of working with platform children and their complex negotiations with structures of authority. 4.45 pm SESSION 4: IN CONCLUSION Shilpa Munikempanna, Filmmaker screens and discusses her film Kaveri, the story of a 13 year old negotiating what it means to be a woman. Kamla Bhasin, Director, Sangat gives the concluding address.