Everybody has read Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in their childhood and all of us know about the seductive but murderous Count Dracula. All of us have also seen movies in which aliens invade the earth or aliens save the day. In short, Fantasy, which summarizes it all, was the theme of Gargi’s literary festival, Literati 2013, which was held on February 15. Since the theme itself was so versatile (including fairytales, science fiction, the gothic, romantic fantasy) the discussions initiated at the festival were equally diverse.
One of the panel speakers Dr.Anuradha Ghosh discussed fairytales and folktales, how the word ‘fantastic’ carries different connotations in relation with the two and the connection between folktales and literature. Dr. Christel Devadawson, another speaker, drew our attention to ‘Portraiture’ in relation to Lewis Carroll’s Alice books. This mapped a discussion on Sir John Tenniel, the renowned caricaturist in Victorian England, as the illustrator of the Alice books and the politics of Victorian domesticity. The third speaker, Dr. Debjani Sengupta talked about the origin of science fiction after World War I. This was followed by a specific discussion on Indian science fiction, particularly Bengali science fiction where she discussed Leela Majumdar’s story Stairs. As the discussions ended we were forced to ask ourselves- “What is the real?” and “Who dreamed it?” Now “this is a serious question….”
With such illuminating and thought provoking discussions, the day had just begun. What followed were Student paper presentations. The theme, being so interesting, the papers presented were all the more captivating. The topics ranged from the sexist representation of Wonder woman in the comic books and stereotypes of men in fairytales to a comparison of the Grimm brothers’ fairytales with the Walt Disney version. One of the papers tried to bring out the fantasy in Manto’s realistic short stories revolving around the world of a partitioned India which was really worth applauding.
Spin a Yarn was the next activity which required the participants to weave a story around a sentence provided to them on the spot. It proved to be one of the most hilarious and interesting of all activities. Participants invented stories in which they fainted after smelling the fragrance of fresh fruits and one of them woke up to be a boy when paradoxically he was actually a boy. These generated fits of laughter among the judges, teachers and students. The activity really did give wings to the weirdest of our imagination!
Twist the Plot was next on the line where the students were given the beginnings of two popular stories, Cinderella and Harry Potter, only to give the story and their genres a new twist. Book-Jacket designing was also organized to serve the creative instincts of the students. Cherry on the cake, this year’s Treasure Hunt surprised the students with its witty clues which tested both their general knowledge and presence of mind.
“This year’s Literati will be the most memorable fest with its ‘fantastic’ ride” remarked a final year student of the college. The carnival ended on a high note where everybody had thoroughly enjoyed themselves and had explored their imagination to the fullest. After all what is the world but our imaginative invention?
And the winners were:
Paper Presentation : Anuj Gupta
Spin-a-yarn : Chhavi, Nandita and Anuj
Book-jacket design : Harshita
Twist-the-plot : Anuj Gupta
Treasure Hunt : Nidhi, Khushbu and Poorva
Shweta Sharma and Akshita Luthra