Mita Kapur's grace and energy is unmistakable. A crisp sari, a sharp gait and sense of purpose - and yet there's a gentleness of strength about everything she does. Inevitably that reflects in the Mountain Echoes literary festival, which turns 10 this year. I speak with the festival founder and the brains behind Siyahi to trace the journey of Mountain Echoes.
It’s 10 years of Mountain Echoes this year. How does the 10-year-old feel different from when it was born?
The ten year old feels different because from one venue we have moved to two cities and six-seven venues. The scope and range of the festival’s content, in terms of being multi-medium and multi-disciplinary, in reflecting the shared story telling traditions between Bhutan, India and the world.
What were the biggest challenges in bringing it up thus far?
The challenges that every art and culture platform faces is what we have faced and it’s a part of the deal I guess. We have smile through them all and find innovative ways of handling each stumbling block.
The line-up this time has many fresh and bold voices from the subcontinent, especially Bhutan. What went into drawing the list?
The increased representation from Bhutan has been a constant for the last few editions now so that’s not new, infact, that’s exactly what we have collectively worked towards. The festival directors who do the programming up their game every year and you see the results of all the work that goes in.
What is the central theme of the festival this year and the things to particularly look forward to?
Its Many Lives, Many Stories. Each session is stellar, I can’t possibly pinpoint specific sessions, that’s rather tough to do.
Tell me about your A-team that helps you plan and execute the event.
Our festival directors, Namita Gokhale, Pramod Kumar, Tshering Tashi, Kelly Dorji along with our advisory group spearhead the festival. Her Majesty the Royal Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck is our Royal Patron, a writer herself and she is closely involved in the festival with all aspects. When there is such positive involvement from such specialists, the festival comes together. The India Bhutan Foundation are the intiating body and the Jaypee group have stood by us as our presenting sponsors and are like our pillar of support. The team at Siyahi works tirelessly to execute and deliver the festival.
What is your vision ahead for Mountain Echoes?
Upwards and onwards. The aim is to showcase ourselves as a world class and the best mountain festival ever.
What distinguishes a good literary showcase as the festival space gets crowded?
As a festival we all have taken an oath that it will always remain the cosy, personally interactive space where readers and writers, artists and audiences interact freely with each other. The camaraderie and bonhomie that is the essence of this’s festival’s spirit will remain our salient feature. An actual cultural exchange happens here, creativity in all genres is the focus point and will remain.
What lies ahead for publishing in India?
The industry will move ahead – there is only hope and faith that we will continue on our path dedicated to bring out praiseworthy and substantial content.
What the other projects you are excited about?
Woman Up! Summit and Soul Connect Experiences.
Text Soumya Mukerji