The Indian Institute of Management, Udaipur hosted the fifth edition of the Udaipur Leap Day Lit Fest at their Balicha Campus. The annual literary festival, flagship event of the literary society of the institution, comprised of several events celebrating the cultural vibrancy and intellectual fervour of  a medley of art forms, over the span of two days – the 25th and 26th of February.

Udaipur Leap Day Lit Fest, so named after the rare occurrence at the end of the month once in every four years, is held on the last week of February barring those on which it is held on the leap day itself. The previous editions of the extravaganza had been graced by luminaries from all walks of the art and cultural sphere – from best-selling authors like Ashwin Sanghi, popularly  sobriquet-ed as ‘India’s answer to Dan Brown’; to film-makers of the likes of Bejoy Nambiar, one of the most promising young directors of the country and the brain behind critically-acclaimed celluloid pieces like “Shaitan” and “Wazir”; lyricist-composers of the calibre of Piyush Mishra, whose notable works span the last two decades of the Bollywood industry and renowned classical dancer and social activist Mallika Sarabhai among others.

IIMU was the first Indian Institute of Management to boast of a dedicated Literary Festival when they played host to the inaugural edition back in 2012. While the first day served as a learning experience for the ones in attendance, the second day provided the audience a golden chance at interaction with some of the most notable names in the cultural sphere of the country at this moment.

On 25th, a workshop has been organized, in collaboration with Terribly Tiny Tales. Terribly Tiny Tales needs no introduction to the social-media savvy Indian. Their micro-fictions, with their unexpected endings, pinches of sarcasm aplenty and the tongue-in-cheek style, have garnered wide-scale appreciation from all quarters and are a rage on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The workshop provided the attendees an extensive insight on the art of concocting stories but also a hands-on experience of weaving them as the experts reviewed each and every one of their works. Owing to the limited number of seats available in the auditorium, the organizers have been forced to put a cap on the number of attendees.

The second day of the fest served as a medium of interaction between the audience and certain esteem guests from the world of Film and Literature. The panellists shared the story of their journey and the plethora of experiences that they underwent, certainly a great source of motivation for the ones still not ready to take the plunge. In addition they also provided their insights and opinions about the craft that they have mastered and the scenario in India at large.

The first speaker for the day was a man whose career is as amazing as the books that he writes. Mr. Apurv Nagpal is not only an alumnus of IIM Ahmedabad, but also a visiting faculty at that institute. He had earlier held several important corporate positions including that of the CEO of Saregama. However, he finally gave in to his passion and turned author with his book, “Eighteen Plus”. The erotica, with its lucid language and adult humour, is a definite page turner. The audience got the brilliant opportunity of meeting and interacting with a vibrant human being, a man of many parts. He revealed the journey from being a Marketing Stalwart to authoring “Eighteen Plus Duets”. He spoke of the way brave women authors came forward to help him with his project, and how the trends have been changing nowadays. He also mentioned that erotica is not his genre. “These stories have drama and life, so I prefer them not to be called erotica.” Addressing the writers in the audience Mr. Nagpal said, “Your personality is reflected through your writings.” His speech was an encouragement to the budding authors of the institute.

The event also played host to one of India’s most popular writers at present, Mr. Ravi Subramanian. A banker by profession, Mr.Subramanian has written popular thrillers about the banking industry and bankers, including the award winning trilogy of The Incredible Banker, The Bankster and Bankerupt. Popularly christened with the moniker of “The Indian John Grisham” as a nod to the legendary American author of corporate thrillers, Mr. Subramanian is an alumnus of IIM Bangalore. His speech served as an encouragement and motivation for all the budding writers in the B-School. He shared his experiences on how he overcame the initial obstacles to become a bestselling author with his ‘Thick Skin’ philosophy. ‘Success makes you greedy’ and ‘An author is the CEO of his book’ are the concepts he explained. Mr. Subramanian also explained why he took up writing as a career. During this he said, “One of the major reasons I started writing was due to my desire to be remembered to posterity.” His speech majorly focussed on why an author should not look at writing as a means of making money. He said that once an author comes out with a story he might feel it is the best piece ever written, but the reality may pull him down. Thus every author needs to continue writing for passion, even though the previous works weren’t a commercial success.

The event also witnessed another National Award winning writer-director, Hansal Mehta. Having started his career at the helm of non-fiction shows like Khana Khazana, Mr. Mehta soon found his true calling in Bollywood and have since then directed critically-acclaimed movies such as “Dus Kahaniyaa”, “Shahid’, “Aligarh” and “City Lights”. His perspective on Bollywood and the art of film-making enthralled one and all. His masterpiece, “Shahid” earned him the National Award in 2013. He went down the memory lane by speaking about his absolute delightful journey of running a small company and selling his stories with a burning desire to make films. He spoke on how a director saw his vision and encouraged him to make his first film, and how Mr. Anurag Kashyap, then a naive writer, introduced himself to Mr. Mehta with a script written within 24 hours. He also spoke of how the review by Mr. Anupam Kher at the Woodstock Villa preview changed his line of thought. He felt he lost his passion for movies and quit. Later he made a comeback with the movie Shahid, where again he faced obstacles of selecting an actor to please the directors. He was again in search of a new writer, who gave him the first draft of the screenplay in a week’s time. When all this wasn’t going well, he decided to make the film low on budget. It was then that he realised that money does not matter to convey yourself to the audience, it is passion that mattered. He also shared with the students the fact that Shahid was shot mostly using a Canon DSLR. Saying this, Mr. Mehta spoke of the technological advancement impacts on the film industry. He said that “Every device has a camera. The easiest way is to record things. But the challenge arises on deciding what to record.” He also enlightened the crowd with his learning from failures. He ended his speech with a pinch of advice – “Set your mind free! Don’t limit yourself. Education is supposed to make you very good thinkers and not executors. All I want to say is open your minds!”

With the advent of the internet and with a generation that is always ‘online’, the television is slowly but surely being replaced by online shows and Web Series. The Viral Fever, popularly known as TVF, one of the path-breakers of that industry, is in a league of its own with its relevant content, seething humour and stereo-type breaking shows. Sumeet Vyas, actor-writer for TVF, is perhaps the most popular face in the Indian web-content genre since his turn as the bumbling, affable lover-boy Mikesh in the “Permanent Roommates”. He graced the stage at ULLF’17 and spoke about the changing trends in the entertainment industry of the country. Mr. Vyas shared with the audience his life story – the initial academic failure, the entry into the industry, the making of the web-series, and the present. He said when he quit school in 12th standard, he started doing theatre, with the help of his father who was a TV writer. Later his father took him to work at an editing studio where he edited short films. The shows he edited included Rishtey, a short story series. He said he developed a fervour for theatre when he saw his father perform. He added that “We are always acting in life. We are different people in front of our parents, and completely different with friends. This made my passion stronger.” Mr. Vyas said he always preferred to be uncomfortable. “The best times are always unplanned”, he quoted. He added saying, “The nice guy image had become a cliché and thus I moved to making Permanent Roommates just to let go off a stereotype built on me”. Speaking of life Mr. Vyas commented, “We are blessed. Success, failure, romance, and despair – whatever happens in life is a story waiting to be told.” Ending his speech he mentioned “I do not want to be the owner of two houses at Bombay. I rather prefer being a part of the story I love.”

The audience were also delighted to have witnessed the launch of the book ‘HopeVsHype’ written by the in-house author, Ankit Jaiswal. As management students, the students learn to optimize limited resources, to interact with community, partner and collaborate with industry, build societal support and build relationships that transcend beyond transactions and exchanges, that same knowledge was applied to this gala of art and literature. The students were able to use their skills to connect with the Udaipur community at large and get Royal Retreat, My FM, Mic and Munch, The Yellow Chilli and UdaipurBlog to support them in their endeavours in various ways.

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