Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The man from Chinnamasta - in the news!

Writer Indira Goswami may have drawn criticism from several political quarters of late for her inability to bring the ULFA forward for talks but her writings continue to bring laurels as she has been short listed for a Hutch Crossword Book Award, billed as India's answer to the Booker. Goswami's "The Man from Chinnamasta", translated into English by Prashant Goswami from her Assamese work "Chinnamastar Manuhto", along with "In a Forest, a Deer" by C S Lakshmi and M Mukundan's "Kesavan' s Lamentations" are the three novels shortlisted in the Indian Language Fiction Translation category. The awards will be given away on February 21 in Mumbai.

Talking to PTI over phone from Guwahati, Indira said the shortlisting is a big boost for Assamese translators. "There was this notion that Assamese translators cannot make it to the big league but Prashant's effort negates that," she said.

Goswami wrote "The Man from Chinnamasta" to protest against the sacrifices at the Kamakhya temple. The temple is considered to be the greatest shrine of mystic Shaktism, one of the main religions of the state during the medieval period. Goswami said rituals are like diseases that affect the society. "This book deals with various aspects of rituals carried out at the temple including animal sacrifice," she said.
Read accounts of Katha's launch of "The man from Chinnamasta" at Delhi and Chennai.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Building Bridges

On Thursday January 18, 22 students of classes IV and V of Shiv Niketan school gathered at the natural environs of the Delhi Zoo to hear Katha’s popular children’s story writer Geeta Dharmarajan’s The Magical Web Bridge.

Katha chose zoo environs as the backdrop of the event to tell the children about the resident and migratory birds at the zoo apart from highlighting the beautiful story that builds friendship bridges.

Storyteller Harpreet Kaur held the students spell bound while telling them the story of Baya bird who builds a nest for the mother of his children. Weaving the nest, the Baya bird puts a little prayer into every beautiful green he could find under the sun. But the Baya bird who lived on this part of the city longed to make friends with birds that lived on the other side of the sea.

One day the Baya meets a large spider and discusses his plan. Soon the two start work together and in a year’s time they build a beautiful bridge for all to see. Soon many of their friends join in to help Baya and the Spider. One must pick up this book to know how the Baya achieved his dream.

Conducting the workshop, the storyteller asked the children if they had seen any nests. Or what kinds of birds were visible on their window sills? And why did the birds migrate? And so on.

At the end of the storytelling the children were asked to portray their imagination. Ishan Banerjee of Class V, Shivaned Khedan of Class IV and Raj Ratan Patel of Class V bagged the first, second and third prizes respectively. Katha congratulates their creative work! You can see their works displayed here.

The fabulously illustrated book by Sonali Biswas vividly captures the spirit and joy of friendship and teamwork.

Making an entry into the zoo, the Delhi Zoo official Mr Riyaz Khan gave description of the birds that migrate to India all the way from Europe and Central Asia during cold months. Sharing information about the birds, Mr Khan said that the birds came to India in groups and settle in Bharatpur and Delhi Zoo. But due to scarcity of water in Bharatpur this time most species nested in Delhi Zoo. The Zoo is flocking with heronries of cackling Painted Storks, huge cotton white Pelicans and Spoonbills. The dabbling ducks, which were seen at the scene of the activity (near the pond), were Common teal, pintails and common Pochards and Shovelers.

Mr Khan provided the group with interesting tit bits on bird migration, feeding habits, identification tips and their behaviour pattern.

All in all, a wonderful time with nature.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Opening a Razai Box!

From its vast treasure box, publishing house Katha brought Geeta Dharmarajan’s book Ma Ganga and the Razai Box for a storytelling and activity session at Oxford Bookstore, Statesman House, on Friday January 12.

Ma Ganga and the Razai Box is the story of a young village girl Yasho who is determined to make her village green and beautiful. As we all know, Ganga is the life line of many states. This is a delightful tale that combines mythology and contemporary environmental issues and emphasizes the call of the hour today, to save our planet.

The author, Geeta Dharmarajan, loves writing stories for children. Earlier, she conceived and edited a children’s magazine called Tamasha!, named after a big fat elephant created by her. She has 16 books and over 400 published pieces to her credit.

Sonali Biswas is the recipient of the Chitra Katha Award 2003 for Outstanding Illustrations for Katha publication, One Lonely Unicorn, a story-counting book. She has also received the Runner-Up award from Noma Concours for Children’s Book Illustrations in 2000 and an Honourable Mention at the Biennial of Asian Illustrators, Japan in 2002.

Mrs Nupur Awasthi conducted the storytelling session and the workshop explored issues related to River Ganga, its geography, role in the economy, the wildlife and threat to its existence.

After the storytelling, the children were asked to express the story in drawing. Sonali Biswas judged the artwork. Srishti Rawat of St Mary’s, Saksham and Dhoopchayya of Bluebells won the first, second and third prizes respectively.

About 30 students from Classes IV, V and VI of St Mary’s School, Dwarka and Bluebells School International, Kailash Colony participated in the workshop.

Media Relations in Delhi:Lakshmi Ramakrishna
Katha, A 3 Sarvodaya Enclave, New Delhi

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Monday, January 08, 2007

The Katha Film Festival '07 ...

... @ Mumbai!

Katha Centre for Film Studies is back at the Alliance Francaise, Churchgate with a week long program of Film Screenings from Friday, 12th of January to Thursday, 18th of January 2007.

After a very successful Inaugural Festival in June 2006, we again bring you an eclectic choice of films from the world of cinema specially curated by individuals for whom cinema is a way of life!

Films will be introduced and screened by the curators and discussed and debated from 10 in the morning to 8 at night at the Alliance Francaise Auditorium, Churchgate.This festival is in collaboration with the National Film Archives of India, Pune and NFDC.

On the 12th and 13th of January, 2007, the Festival begins with two days of Indian films dedicated to the theme of Mumbai’s Chawls. Amrit Gangar(a film scholar, writer, curator) has specially put together a package of five feature films, a short film and a compilation on representation of Bombay in films tilted: "'CHALCHITRA: CHAWLCHITRA’-:Popular Hindi Cinema and Mumbai's Chawl." He will be leading an intensive session of discussions and debates on the polemics and politics of space in urban context.

On the 15th of January, 2007, Anuja Ghosalkar’s focus will be films by women directors. Anuja Ghosalkar has been teaching Cinema in Bombay for the last five years and is a researcher as well. She also was a part of the curatorial team for India’s first International Women’s film festival called, ‘Made By Women’, that traveled to eight cities across the world.

We have a young student of BMM, Suyash Barve, who will share his experience and love of cinema, which a package of feature and documentary films on the 16th of January, 2007.

Darius Cooper (professor of literature and film at San Diego Mesa College, writer, poet and critic) will be screening three feature films and introducing, exploring and analyzing various theories of cinema on the 17th of January.

We end the Festival with film enthusiast and cinema buff, Kiran David’s exciting selection which is packed with films from Japanese cinema.

The schedule of films is as follows and is subject to last minute changes. For information please contact us at :
ppdada@gmail.com or 26313198 at the Katha Centre for Film Studies.


KATHA , based in Delhi, is a "profit-for-all" non profit organisation that works in the broad areas of language, culture and translation, as well as poverty alleviation.

Known as a premier publishing house based in Delhi, Katha focuses on quality English translations and works with over 300 writers and 21 Indian languages. It has been at the leading edge of translation practices for over 18 years

Katha Centre for Film Studies, based in Mumbai, is one of KATHA’s responses to a growing need to situate and understand the significance of cinema as a unique language of contemporary art practices that has had an enormous impact on the masses.

From 1st April, 2006, Katha Centre for Film Studies has been active inthe city of Mumbai. Ever since our Inaugural festival, in June 2006, Katha Centre for Film Studies has been active in organizing regular screenings in collaboration with various institutions around the city like SVKM’s Law College, IIT Powai, Mumbai University, Bhavan’s Cultural Centre, Andheri, with the aim of creating spaces which would give room to debates/ discussions/ conversations on the excellence in cinema and would look at the medium critically and carefully.

The schedule of films for the festival beginning on the 12th of January is as follows and is subject to last minute changes. For information please contact us at :
ppdada@gmail.com or 26313198 at the Katha Centre for Film Studies.


1) The schedule is subject to last minute changes.
2) Entry is strictly on a FIRST COME FIRST SERVE basis. The Alliance Francaise Auditorium is a 75 seater. Those seated for the film will not be asked to leave if they wish to watch the next film.
3) The screenings are free of charge.There are no tickets or passes issued.
4) Literature containing Reviews/ Essays will be available on the films. A nominal amount amount will be charged for this.

12th January 2007 Friday

(a film scholar, writer, curator) will introduce, debate and discuss the films which evoke polemics and politics of space in urban context.

Popular Hindi cinema and Mumbai's Chawl

Introduction: 10 a.m. to 10.30 a.m

Asli Naqli 10.30 a.m. to 1.15 pm.
Directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee Year: 1962 ; Duration: 160 minutes ; Language: Hindi

Lunch Break : 1.15 p.m. to 1.45 p.m.

Bluffmaster 1.45 p.m. to 4 p.m. Directed by Manmohan Desai Year: 1972 Duration: 135 minutes ; Language: Hindi

Coffee Break : 4.00 p.m. to 4.30 p.m.

Piya Ka Ghar 4.30 p.m. to 6.45p.m.
Directed by Basu Chatterjee; Year: 1972; Duration: 135 minutes ; Language: Hindi

KK Mahajan's story of Piya ka Ghar's chawl shoot 6.50 p.m. to 7.15 p.m.

Harbour Line Stories Etc. 7.20 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Directed by Amrit Gangar; Year: 2001; Duration: 35 minutes

13th January 2007 Saturday

continues the discussion on the theme of ‘CHALCHITRA: CHAWLCHITRA and will introduce, discuss and screen the following films.

Introduction: 10 a.m. to 10.30 a.m.

Compilation: Representation of Bombay in Cinema 10.30 a.m. to 11 a.m. by Amrit Gangar; Duration: 25 minutes

Katha 11 a.m.. to 1.30 p.m.
Directed by Sai Paranjape; Year: 1983; Duration: 141 minutes ; Language: Hindi

Lunch Break : 1.30 p.m. to 2.00 p.m.

Mohan Joshi Haazir Ho 2 p.m. to 4.15 pm.
Directed by Saeed Mirza; Year: 1984 ; Duration: 130 minutes ; Language: Hindi

Coffee Break : 4.15 p.m. to 4.45 p.m.

The Story of Two chawls 4.45 p.m. to 5.15 p.m.
The Chawl and the City's spatial transformations 5.15 p.m. onwards
A Discussion with Amrit Gangar, Neera Adarkar, Ramu Ramnathan

15th January 2007 Monday

(Lecturer, researcher) will introduce debate and discuss the following films by Women Directors :

Introduction: 10 a.m. to 10.30 a.m.

The House is Black ( Kaneh Siah Ast) 10.30 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Directed by Forugh Farrokhzad ; Year:1963 ; Duration:20 minutes; Language: Persian; Country: Iran

India Song 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Directed by Marguerite Duras ; Year: 1975 ; Duration: 120 minutes ; Language: French; Country: France

Lunch Break : 1.00 p.m. to 1.30 p.m.

Daisies ( Sedmikrasky) 2 p.m. to 3.15 p.m. Directed by Vera Chytilova ; Year: 1966 ; Duration: 74 minutes ; Language: Czech; Country: Czechoslovakia

Coffee Break : 3.45 p.m. to 4.15 p.m.

Cleo from 5 to 7 ( Cleo a 5 de 7) 4.15 p.m. to 5.45 p.m.
Directed by Agnes Varda; Year: 1961 ; Duration:90 minutes ; Language: French; Country: France/Italy

The Swamp ( La Cienaga) 6.p.m. to 7.45 p.m.
Directed by Lucrecia Martel; Year: 2001 ; Duration:103 minutes; Language: Spanish; Country: Argentina/ France/ Spain

16th January 2007 Tuesday

(student) will introduce, debate and discuss the following films:

Introduction: 10 a.m. to 10.30 a.m.

The Outcry (Il Grido) 10.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m.
Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni; Year: 1957; Duration: 116 minutes; Language: Italian; Country: Italy/USA

Germany Year Zero (Germania anno zero) 12.30 p.m. to 1.30 p.m. Directed by Roberto Rossellini; Year: 1948; Duration: 78minutes; Language: Italian/German Country:Italy
English/ French

Lunch Break : 1.30 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Ballad of a little soldier ( Ballad vom klienen soldaten) 2 p.m. to 2.50 p.m. Directed by Werner Herzog; Year: 1984; Duration: 46 minutes ; Language: English/ German; Country:West Germany

Herakles 3 p.m. to 3.10 p.m. Directed by Werner Herzog; Year: 1962; Duration: 10 minutes ; Language: German; Country: West Germany

The Great Ecstasy of Woodcarver Steiner (Die grobe Ekstase des bildschnitzers Steiner) 3.15 p.m. to 4 p.m. Directed by Werner Herzog; Year: 1974; Duration: 45 minutes ; Language: German; Country: West Germany

Coffee Break : 4 p.m. to 4.30 p.m.

What time is it there? (Ni neiban jidian) 4.30 p.m. to 6.30 p.m.
Directed by Tsai Ming-Liang; Year: 2001; Duration: 116 minutes; Language: Mandarin; Country: Taiwan// French/ Taiwanese France

The Skywalk is gone ( Tianqiao bu jianle) 7 p.m. to 7.30 p.m.
Directed by Tsai Ming-Liang; Year: 2002; Duration: 25 minutes; Language: Mandarin; Country: Taiwan/ France

17th January 2007 Wednesday

( professor of literature and film at San Diego Mesa College, a writer, poet and critic )will introduce, debate and discuss the following films:

Introduction: 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

The Sweet Hereafter 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Directed by Atom Egoyan.; Year: 1997; Duration: 112 minutes; Language: English; Country: Canada

Lunch Break : 1.p.m. to 1.30 p.m.

House of Games 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Directed by David Mamet.; Year: 1987; Duration: 102 minutes; Language: English; Country: USA

Coffee Break : 4 p.m. to 4.30 p.m.

The Decalogue ( Part 1) (Dekalog) 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Directed by Krzsysztof Kieslowski; Year: 1989; Duration: 55 minutes; Language: Poland; Country: Polish

18th January 2007 Thursday

(film enthusiast) will introduce, debate and discuss the following films:

Introduction: 10 a.m. to 10.30 a.m.

A One and a Two...(YiYi) 10.30 a.m. to 1.30 p.m.
Directed by Edward Yang; Year:2000; Duration: 173 minutes; Language: Taiwanese/; Country: Taiwan/ Hokkien/English/Japanese Japan

Lunch Break : 1.30p.m. to 2 p.m.

The Life of Jesus (la Vie de Jesus) 2 p.m. to 3.45 p.m.
Directed by Bruno Dumont.; Year: 1997; Duration: 96 minutes; Language: French; Country: France

Graveyard of honour ( Jingi no Hakaba) 3.50 p.m. to 5.30 p.m.
Directed by Kinji Fukasaku.; Year: 1975; Duration: 94 minutes; Language: Japanese; Country: Japan

Coffee Break : 5.30 p.m. to 5.45 p.m.

Dead or Alive (Dead or Alive: Hanzaisha) 5.45 p.m. to 7.30 p.m.
Directed by Takashi Miike; Year: 1999; Duration: 105 minutes; Language: Mandarin; Country: Japan/Japanese

The Bedroom ( Shisenjiyou no Aria) 7.30 p.m.to 8.30 p.m.
Directed by Hisayasu Sato; Year: 1992; Duration: 60 minutes; Language: Japanese; Country: Japan


1) The above schedule is subject to last minute changes.
2) Entry is strictly on a FIRST COME FIRST SERVE basis. The Alliance Francaise Auditorium is a 75 seater. Those seated for the film will not be asked to leave if they wish to watch the next film.
3) The screenings are free of charge.There are no tickets or passes issued.
4) Literature containing Reviews/ Essays will be available on the films. A nominal amount amount will be charged for this.

To great cinema. We're looking to having you with us.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A Katha of Success

(Metroplus, The Hindu, 4 January, 2007)

Geeta Dharmarajan on how the publishing house Katha came into being

From children's magazine to literature to social work, Geeta Dharmarajan has been associated with them all. Her belief that good literature is an effective medium for both pleasure and self improvement, led her to establish Katha, which is not just a publishing house but also a non-profit organisation having several social work projects under its wing. Her very first venture was a children magazine Tamasha, which ran successfully for two years, until it had to be shut down owing to her foray into the publishing world. Her love for literature prompted her to set up a full-fledged publishing house, Katha in 1989, exclusively devoted to translating regional Indian writers into English. A clear upshot of this venture has been that the translation of their works into English has enabled several regional writers to get recognition with the larger audience. Her dexterity in management came to the fore when, in the competitive world of fiction publishing, she not only made Katha into a successful business house but also a name to reckon with.

Turning point

"Reading Mouni, the eminent Tamil writer, proved to be a turning point in the establishment of Katha. In fact, his talent struck me so much that it made me consider that there must be other writers like him in various Indian languages. And suddenly it occurred to me how consequential it would be to get their works translated into English," she says.

But in the age of television, Internet and other modes of entertainment how many people care for literature? "Speaking statistically, India never had had a vast legion of readers for literature. But the complexities and strained circumstances of the modern times are driving more and more people towards it. Gradually, it is being realised that fiction books not only provide pleasure but also act as the best form of relaxant. Also the tremendous growth of English in the last few years coupled with the rise in the purchasing power of the middle class have certainly led to the growth of readership. The fact that our first anthology of short stories is into its ninth reprint proves literature is selling," she explains.

Besides literary projects, Geeta took up social work that includes imparting education to underprivileged children living in slums. For this she arranged a mobile school on wheels and is assisted by several teachers who have volunteered themselves for the project. Her inspiration to get engaged in social work comes from her grandmother, whom she had seen work for the welfare of widows in Chennai. Didn't being a housewife hinder her from involving herself in a wide range of activities?

"On the contrary, being a housewife gave me the luxury of leisure, which I utilised to do what I had always wanted to and believed in. Besides, my husband and in-laws were quite supportive in my endeavours," she remarks.

More than a decade ago, when she embarked upon her purpose, little did she imagine that her fledgling institution would soon become a strong team of over 200 people. Elaborating the challenges that confront such projects, she points out, "In community development projects like these, the availability of funds and volunteers matter the most. Unfortunately, the growing indifference of society results in the scarcity of both and more particularly of volunteers. On the other hand, in the West, people volunteer themselves to social causes wholeheartedly. India is a vast country with a vast number of problems. These problems can only be solved if we volunteer ourselves to confront them in our individual capacities."


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Katha's Christmas @ Chennai

... and so ended the Christmas season at Katha, with 17 kids having a grand time listening to stories, making masks, making friends, looking at bird's nests and enjoying the Christmas season in every way possible. Katha's Christmas workshops, from 23rd to 27th December 2006 were tons of fun.

Katha's collection of stories make for marvellous reading - especially when there's a storyteller to read it out to you, with the actual characters right beside them - as woodcuts.

We did a series of stories for each day of the five-day module - each with a different activity. Two hours practically flew by, and no one wanted to go back home. The first day's story was The Runaway Puppy, followed by an activity with making signs. Kids also made an excursion downstairs to the vet clinic, a visiting place for many animals - a combination of theory and practice.

The next day's story was The Magic Raindrop - a particular favourite, as it has a magic kite that grows enormous. We kicked off with a story-telling session, where our workshop coordinator used woodcuts to add colour to the story.

One of the youngsters with a kite she designed and drew - isn't it pretty? We thought so too.

There was also a session of flag-painting going on, side by side. Kids got the flag of the country they wanted painted on their hands - and some even opted for imaginery countries! Pink flags were a particular favourite.

Katha's kids came up with their own kite song too.

Day three's session was filled with scarecrows - we did The Song of a Scarecrow. Everyone had a grand time designing their own versions of the crow-scarers. And it happened to be Christmas Day as well, so it was extra special. Day four was another fun day with The Magical Webbridge ... and our workshop coordinator brought with her a wonderful bhaya bird nest!

Naturally, this excited a lot of curioisty. How did the bird even build such a nest? How did they get in? How did they sleep? Eat? What if they fell out while they were sleeping? How long did these nests last? So many questions, so many answers. And plenty of imagination. Here's what one Katha kid came up with, for her very own bird:

Day Five saw the grand finale - Hanuman's Adventures in the Netherworld. Today, it was masks galore, with every kid being Rama or Ravana, and much role-playing ensued. At the end, everyone was given a certificate - and we wished the workshop could have gone on, day after day.

We broke for the New Year, with hopes of lots more workshops, and thrilling books to come.

Here's to a great, Happy New year from everyone at Katha!

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