The Kunwar Viyogi Memorial Trust took the work and vision of Dogra legend and award-winning poet Group Captain Randhir Singh aka Kunwar Viyogi to the prestigious Kolkata Literature Festival.
The foundation hosted multiple cultural events in the three day festival including poetry jams, discussions on modern literature, mythology and Kunwar Viyogi’s fight for women’s rights through his writings.
“As part of our mission to promote Dogra culture, it was essential to take Kunwar Viyogi’s message to the Land of Tagore,” said Ayushman Jamwal, Senior News Editor at CNN-News18 and curator of the Trust. “We created a platform for artists and scholars for discussions on modern literature and social issues in the boom of the social media era.”
On day one of the festival, the Trust hosted a session on ‘Poetry in the social media era’ at the iconic Oxford Bookstore. The panel comprised of celebrated local poets including Karuna Ezara Parikh and Sufia Khatoon along with musician Somak Sinha, who heads the multi-talented fusion band Adbhudam. Ayushman Jamwal moderated the panel and recited poems from his acclaimed book Silent Sun, sharing his award-winning poem on Triple Talaq titled ‘Am I Not God’s Child?’, and the story of how he crafted the verse. Adbhudam capped off the session, wowing crowds by elevating Kunwar Viyogi’s sonnets with music, boosting the power of the poet’s lyrics.
On day two of the festival, local students flocked to the Oxford Bookstore as the Trust hosted the session ‘Pop culture and modern mythology’. As an avid columnist for The Speaking Tree, Ayushman Jamwal hosted the session with celebrated cultural academics and writers including Pinaki De and Rimi Chatterjee. The panel explored how modern literature and popular culture including comics and films have the power to redefine philosophy and spirituality. Philosophy and literature students joined the discussion for a vibrant exchange of ideas at the iconic bookstore.
On day 3, the Trust was at Kolkata’s famous Allen Park to host the session, ‘Can modern literature sustain feminism as a force of reform?’. Moderated by Ayushman Jamwal, the panelists included former U.S marine and author, Anuradha Bhagwati, who spoke about her fight against racism and sexism as an immigrant child in the United States in her book ‘Unbecoming: A Memoir of Disobedience’. Jammu University professor Garima Gupta also joined the panel, highlighting the feminist themes of Kunwar Viyogi’s work namely in his Sahitya Akademi award winning poem ‘Ghar’. Garima Gupta also spoke about the writer’s fight against the patriarchy and anti-women atrocities in Jammu. Both emphasised the power literature possesses to boost the feminist movement, while Garima Gupta called for a wider and inclusive discussion of different societal perspectives to empower the fight.
Kunwar Viyogi’s work found new fans in Kolkata, including legendary writer and columnist Bachi Karkaria, Bengali icon and celebrated musician Usha Uthup and Bollywood actor, theatre artist and writer Saurabh Shukla. They relished the poet’s sonnets and lauded the Trust’s work to take Dogra literature to new heights.
“Kolkata is a global cultural hub and is fertile ground for the revival of Dogra literature. The vision and work of legendary writers like Kunwar Viyogi need such platforms to be spread across the nation,” says Ayushman Jamwal. “We will see Kolkata again, and the city’s art lovers here will see and hear Kunwar Viyogi’s work and vision again.”