A "sense of urgency" and widespread social activism are pre-requisites for producing good literature according to eminent Hindi writers and activists who revisited their days of literary activism here recently.
A panel discussion on "Contemporary Hindi Literature" highlighted the role of Hindi literature produced during 1960s and 70s and how it was the product of various ideological discourses that prevailed over the country in the form of social movements.
Poet Mangalesh Dabral, filmmaker and scriptwriter Asghar Wajahat and writer Rama Pandey were part of the discussion moderated by the noted theatre director and playwright Bhanu Bharti, which pointed that the decline in the social activism marked the downfall of literary activism.
The event was part of the two-day Delhi Literature Festival, which concluded here last evening.
"The world certainly has changed. That was an era of major movements of Lohiaties, Socialists and Naxalites. Those years also witnessed emergence of literary discourses in the form of Hungry Generation and Beat Generation. Every youth was influenced by these movements. Everybody was hoping that was about to come. That was an era of urgency. Now that age has gone and literature can’t be generated without urgency," said Dabral.
The Hungry Generation, was an avant garde literary movement in Bengali language launched by Shakti Chattopadhyay, Malay Roy Choudhury, Samir Roychoudhury and Debi Roy during the 1960s in Kolkata. They challenged and significantly changed the language and the vocabulary used by contemporary writers to express their feelings in literature and painting.
The Beat Movement, meanwhile, originated in America. In 1962 Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky, two main figures in the Beats, set off to meet fellow progressive thinkers and poets embarking on a soul searching journey though India.
"What we people have done was really important. But we feel our work has not been accomplished," said Dabral, who has several anthologies of poems to his credit and has also translated writers as Bertolt Brecht, Pablo Neruda and Herman Hesse from English into Hindi.
Novelist, playwright and scriptwriter Asghar Wajahat metaphorically deconstructed how the changing economic scenario had encroached over the space for literary discussions and activism.
"There was a tea shop in the city, which was then metamorphosed into a coffee house where writers did gather to discuss the issues. But eventually that was closed and ready made garment showroom was opened in that shop.
"When we had started people were concerned about art and society. But concerns have changed today. Things that were essential then are totally irrelevant today," said Wajahat.
Discussing paradigm shift in the writings, Asghar concluded, "We thought something would soon happen and society would become better. Hope was the theme and realm of those days writings. But today despair is the theme of all our writings."
"Rate of publishing is quite high today. But the vigour in the writing is missing," Asghar added.
Hindi writer Rama Pandey, however, said that the biggest irony of Hindi literature was that it had lost its readership during the last two to three decades .
Earlier, a fiction-thriller work RIP: The Resurgent Indian Patriots authored by Singapore based writer Mukul Deva was unveiled during the "Book Reading Session".
Deva said although the work was a fiction-thriller, he had constructed the storyline of RIP on the contemporary political issue of corruption that had thrown the all major political parties in the eye of political storm and had led the nationwide anti-corruption movement.
Asked whether he had tried to obliquely target any particular family active in Indian political arena, Deva said that the book was entirely a fiction work.
"I have told the story the way Indian political scenario is opening up. I did not target any one political family of individual but a political problem," said Deva, who has so far written eleven books, including popular Lashkar series, which was based on the issue of terrorism.
Whether any of his books soon going to transform into motion pictures, Deva added that rights of Lashkar series had been sold off and he had already got two offers for RIP.
"However, we have held offers for RIP back owing to some technical reasons.