Children possess the magical ability to let their imagination fly them to an unknown world. Their nascent dreams of escapades seem unrealistic in an adult’s world. Their minds are a creative powerhouse that adults often tend to slight. To celebrate young minds’ innate powers of imagination and observation, Prabha Khaitan Foundation organised a special session of An Author’s Afternoon at Taj Bengal with the actor and teacherturned-author, Vani Tripathi Tikoo, whose debut book, Why can’t Elephants be Red?, is an adventurous journey into the mind of a two-and-a-half-year-old little girl, Akku. In an enriching conversation with the national award-winning director, Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, Tikoo underpinned our limitations in fathoming young minds and their countless narratives.
Amarjit Singh Dulat’s journey as the former special director of the Indian Intelligence Bureau and former secretary of the Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) has been nothing less than extraordinary. As a spymaster, he had been at the helm of dealing with two of India’s most conflict-ridden states: Kashmir and Punjab. Prabha Khaitan Foundation organised a special session of An Author’s Afternoon with the former intelligence officer to discuss his book, A Life in the Shadows: A Memoir. Dulat was in conversation with columnist and businessman, Suhel Seth. Esha Dutta, Ehsaas Woman of Kolkata, delivered the formal welcome note on behalf of the Foundation, introducing both Dulat and Seth before opening an intriguing session tracing Dulat’s incredible journey.
Some poetry strikes a chord with readers and revives long-lost emotions, while some initiates people into new beliefs and ideas. Nabaneeta Dev Sen was a poet who created both with equal finesse. Her works have a visceral understanding of pain, negotiations with the self, feminist anger and resistance to patriarchy. Prabha Khaitan Foundation organised a memorable session of An Author’s Afternoon with the award-winning actor, writer and editor, Nandana Dev Sen. Through a lighthearted yet profound conversation with Debnita Chakravarti, an associate professor of English at Shri Shikshayatan College, Sen took a jaunt down memory lane and recorded the trajectory of her mother’s literary career, offering all a peek into the departed poet’s mind.
Having served for 36 years in the Indian Foreign Service, Navdeep Suri is a noted diplomat who has been on India’s diplomatic missions to Cairo, Damascus, Washington, Dar es Salaam and London, and has served as India’s Consul General in Johannesburg.
The word ‘economics’ inspires in our minds the names of revered economists like Amartya Sen, Manmohan Singh, Raghuram Rajan and, more recently, Abhijit Banerjee. What it also invokes are myriad images of scholarly books and articles dealing with concepts which lie beyond the layman’s ambit of understanding. The scope of the subject condenses the everyday stories of the lives of the people into statistics, which only a select group of people can comprehend. However, Shrayana Bhattacharya, in her book, Desperately Seeking Shah Rukh: India’s Lonely Young Women and the Search for Intimacy and Independence, moves beyond the academic jargon of economics and tells the stories of India’s working women through their understanding of the Bollywood star, Shah Rukh Khan, in a way that they become at once riveting and impactful. Prabha Khaitan Foundation organised another session of An Author’s Afternoon with Shrayana Bhattacharya at the Taj Bengal.
Rituparna Chatterjee is an award-winning author, journalist, editor and columnist. A former correspondent and columnist for The Economic Times, her first book, An Ordinary Life, was about the life of acclaimed actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Published in 2020, her second book, The Water Phoenix: A Memoir of Childhood Abuse, Healing and Forgiveness is a magical realism memoir on how she dealt with childhood abuse. The book was recognised by the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) and awarded the Laadli Media and Advertising Awards for gender sensitivity.
Onir is an Indian filmmaker, screenwriter, editor and producer. Some of his critically acclaimed works include his debut film My Brother… Nikhil, Bas Ek Pal and I Am. Onir came into the limelight right after My Brother… Nikhil, as the film dealt with the stigma attached to AIDS and showed how the Goan government treated HIV-positive patients in the 1980s. The award-winning I Am, which is reportedly the first film in South Asia to have been crowdfunded through social media, deals with child abuse, LGBTQ rights and single motherhood. Onir is also a columnist for The Hindu and has written for the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Times of India and the BBC. Prabha Khaitan Foundation hosted a special literary session of An Author’s Afternoon with Onir to learn more about his book, I am Onir and I am Gay. Esha Dutta, Ehsaas Woman of Kolkata, introduced the guest and the moderator, author Sandip Roy.
Makarand R. Paranjape’s contributions to the world of literature and philosophy are well known. He is a poet, novelist and columnist, and has also been a professor of English at Jawaharlal Nehru University and the Director of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla. Prabha Khaitan Foundation hosted Paranjape at a special session of An Author’s Afternoon at the Taj Bengal in Kolkata. In conversation with Paranjape was Harsh Gupta ‘Madhusudan’, a public investor based in India whose columns on politics and finance appear regularly in leading publications. The conversation centred around Paranjape’s recently published book, JNU: Nationalism and India’s Uncivil War and what drove the author to write the book.
Shobha Tharoor Srinivasan wears many hats. She is an award-winning children’s author whose works have been published in India and the United States. She is also a poet, a translator, an editor and a voice-over artist. As a former non-profit development professional, she worked tirelessly to advocate and raise funds for the disabled. Her voice-over work has involved documentaries, educational programmes, journalistic initiatives and audio books. Prabha Khaitan Foundation recently invited Srinivasan to An Author’s Afternoon to discuss her book: The Extraordinary, Ordinary Life of Lily Tharoor, and to celebrate mothers and their contribution to our lives. Srinivasan was in conversation with Nilisha Agarwal, Ehsaas Woman of Kolkata. Both Srinivasan and Agarwal were introduced to the audience by Esha Dutta, Ehsaas Woman of Kolkata.
“The disappearance of Netaji Subhas Chanda Bose has bothered generations of Indians. Eighteen years ago, in 2004, a few friends and I decided that we needed to find out what happened to Netaji—something that nobody has been able to conclusively establish. Did he die in a plane crash? Did he survive? If he did, what happened to him after that?” These were some of the questions and points raised by best-selling author, researcher and commentator on history, Chandrachur Ghose, as he talked about his book, Bose: The Untold Story of an Inconvenient Nationalist, at a session of An Author’s Afternoon, organised by Prabha Khaitan Foundation at the Taj Bengal. Ghose was in conversation with educationist Mohua Chatterjee, and the speaker and moderator were introduced to the audience by Shefali Agarwal, Ehsaas Woman of Kolkata.