Mountain Echoes climbs a notch higher on Day 2 (Roundup)

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Thimphu, Aug 24 (IANS) The little known secrets of the theatre world, recitation of Vikram Seth’s poems by Bollywood veterans Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak Shah, experiences of two young novelists from Bhutan and India, along with chronicles of wanderlust came together under one roof here at the Mountain Echoes literary festival on Friday.

The second day of the ongoing annual literary retreat began with a performance of “Drametese Ngachamm” or the dance of the drummers, by students of the Royal Academy of Performing Arts.

The less than 15-minute performance was soaked in traditional cultures and provided a fitting prologue to the events that followed.

In the session “All The World’s A Stage”, named after Shakespeare’s famous monologue from “As You Like It” saw Sanjana Kapoor, who is the force behind the transformation of Prithvi Theatre into one of India’s leading cultural hubs, in conversation with Ratna Pathak Shah.

The duo discussed the present theatre scene in India, the many perils of theatre practitioners and threw light on the little details that go into the making of a successful play. They highlighted the significance of taking theatre to schools and colleges, and pointed out the challenges in the direction with personal anecdotes.

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In the next session, the suspense surrounding the Himalayan Yeti that attracts scores of explorers every year to the snow-capped mountains was unravelled as Daniel C. Taylor, in conversation with festival co-director Tshering Tashi and Bhutanese journalist Karma Singe Dorji, shared their findings, insights and rare photographs.

Taylor has spent six decades of his life in search of the elusive creature and spoke in the context of his book “Yeti: The Ecology Of A Mystery”.

The next session was structured around “The Beatles” and saw Ajoy Bose, the author of “Across The Universe” based on the rock band’s journey in India, singer Usha Uthup and well known Bhutanese musician Dawa Drakpa, discuss their understanding of the band that comprised John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.

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Usha invited Naseeruddin to the stage and they sang quite a few numbers as the audience, comprising mostly Bhutanese school students, joined the chorus.

In “If Rivers Were To Speak” Esther Syiem, Namgyal Tshering and Chador Wangmo traced the many ways in which poetry can be used as a medium of expression.

But the high-point of the day was a session titled “Beastly Tales From Here And There”, in which Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak Shah recited poems and short stories with moral lessons. The Bollywood couple held the crowd spellbound by their recitation and were greeted with a standing ovation by the country’s queen mother, Ashi Dorjee Wangmu Wangchuck.

Namita Gokhale participated in a session themed around her latest book “The Himalayan Arc: East Of Southeast”. It saw a reading by senior journalist Sanjoy Hazarika, where he spoke about the recent history of Bhutan.

The day also saw an interesting coming together of two young writers, India’s Zuni Chopra and Bhutan’s Pema Euden. Still in their teens, both of them have successfully authored several books and inspired the young students “to believe in yourself and write”.

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The second day of the festival turned out to be a cultural milieu of sorts, where the visiting Indian writers and artistes had a first-hand opportunity to interact with their Bhutanese counterparts. On the other hand, the local school students too came across numerous stories and participated in the sessions with their brave and innocent questions.

The day also hosted three workshops, with “Elements Of Fiction: How To craft A Story”, being the most prominent.

Mountain Echoes literary festival is now in its ninth edition and is organised by the India-Bhutan Foundation and Siyahi, a Jaipur-based literary consultancy agency.

It will reach its culmination on Saturday and will host a wide range of sessions on environmental justice and challenges of journalism, among others.

(Saket Suman can be contacted at [email protected])

–IANS

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