Literary festivals essential for fostering comradery among people: Jameel Gulrez

Suhail Bhat
Srinagar, Oct 25: Jameel Gulrez, the founder of Katha Kathan, an initiative to preserve the rich tapestry of Indian languages, believes that events like the Kumaon Literary Festival “help to bridge the gaps across different regions and bring people together.”
Jameel’s initiative reintroduces the beauty of India’s native languages through its literature, captivating audiences and taking them on a journey of vivid imagery through a platform of theatrical readings of Indian language literature on stage.
It brings to life the works of some of the greatest poets and authors from many languages. Jameel has been in the communications industry for more than four decades, and his friends know him as an expert in Urdu literature, a poet, a writer, and the 10-second maverick behind LIC’s “Jeevan ka baed bi, Jeevan ka Saath bi” and “Botal ma aam, Maza ha Naam” campaigns.
In an interview to the Excelsior on the sidelines of the “Kumaon Literary Festival,” at SKICC Jameel addressed the value of such events for Kashmir.
How important is this festival for Kashmir?
JG: This is important because if you hold a festival like this, bring some fantastic stories, and present these stories to the public, it will help us understand one another and unite them. Even though we are all humans and experience the same emotions, a variety of factors have caused us to become estranged from one another, and attempts should be made to bridge the gaps.
Do you think your initiative would aid the Kashmiri language, which is also struggling, in any way?
JG: To help people become more accustomed to their language, we present stories in local languages around the nation. If anyone from the region wants to connect with us and share their Kashmiri stories, it can make a difference and aid in bringing Kashmiris closer to their mother tongue. I have observed Kashmiri children speaking either Urdu or English. I have also encountered Kashmiri children who exclusively speak English and do not know a single word of Kashmiri. Therefore, it is essential that we do everything within our power to preserve our mother tongues.
How can people support your cause while developing their storytelling skills?
JG: We have a Whatsapp group called Katha Kathan, and we welcome anyone who wishes to join. We will then teach them the skill of online storytelling in the same way that we have trained the others.
How do you determine whether or not a tale is worth telling?
JG: Every language has a few stories that are worthwhile to tell. We choose stories based on whether they will move us emotionally because they also have the power to move the hearts of others.
What response do you typically get from listeners when you share stories?
JG: We are based in Mumbai and frequently travel for our programs. Every week, we perform stories at the Prithvi Theatre in Mumbai, and because of the extreme demand, we occasionally have to apologize to people who were turned away. The moment you start, people will come. The number of people who come to hear our stories has increased from the initial few.
Do you believe your project can compete with today’s story-telling platforms?
JG: I have roped in several young people in my initiative to spread the message of oneness since we are all descended from Adam and Eve. We should all be aware that some people, motivated by their own interests, generated the animosity that has divided us.
We have avoided discussing politics and religion. We share tales of adoration, brotherhood, and humanity.