Four of the panels focused on artist-writers who express themselves through their specific art and words.

Graphically Speaking

Amruta Patil, Samit Basu, Appupen

“If it’s an extraordinary story, how does it matter how it’s told?” asked Amruta Patil, who has been working on a graphic novel trilogy based on The Mahabharata. The literary world continues to debate whether the graphic novel falls under the realm of literature. Samit Bosu really doesn’t care; as far as he’s concerned, writers can do things now that they couldn’t do before. “With comics you can collaborate with folks really good at creating art.” What results is what he calls “this great cocktail of work” through a mélange of different brains. Appupen, who has been painting, drawing and tattooing, presented his latest work, Moonward, in which he had expressed himself without words. “Stories come to me in images.”

The Green Room

Wendell Rodricks in conversation with Ranvir Shah

Rodricks led us through a fascinating short presentation in which he detailed how he sought to bring Goan life into his fashion: a wave inspired one of the dresses he created; the ocean crested into a “bustier” that a model wore on the ramp: one of his students made a plexiglass molded fish tank, painted it light blue and added water. “Then we went to the Chowpatty beach bubble-wallah and the man was sitting there blowing bubbles during the fashion show.” He also designed his first Braille shirt based on the request of a blind man who used to take a long time just to get dressed. “Can you read it?” Rodricks asked the man by phone when he sent the shirt. “He was crying because the shirt said ‘Wendell Rodricks, Size Medium, Color Blue.’”

The Business Sutra

Devdutt Pattanaik in conversation with by Mita Kapur

Pattanaik, a physician, author, speaker, illustrator and mythologist, is an engaging storyteller. Pattanaik’s latest book is The Business Sutra in which he questions the assumption that western thought is the default. Pattanaik believes that management science as it’s practiced in India does not suit its ethos. “It’s rooted in Greek and biblical mythology; it’s not rational at all. It cannot work in a global village,” he said. Pattanaik used examples from Mahabharatha and Ramayana to stress how the Indian court system was designed to trap the hardened villain, Ravana. “Be a Duryodhana. You will escape.”

Cooking Up a Storm: The Secrets of Great Food

Rocky Singh, Mayur Sharma, Leela Palace’s Pascal Dupuis, Chef Dharmen Makhawana

With Farzana Contractor

This boisterous team sizzled as Contractor grilled them with questions. When Contractor began writing about food, there was only five-star food and street food; there were no in-between establishments like there are today. The Highway on a Plate team (Rocky Singh and Mayur Sharma) raved about their passion, street food. “That’s food you understand and food that understands you,” Singh said. Sharma narrated an anecdote about quality. A street food maven he met in Gujarat had been making the same dish for the last four decades. When asked why the man would not grow his business—considering that everything he prepared was sold out in a total of forty minutes—the man said would be unable to maintain the consistency of the dish. “If I make one more I’m not doing the right thing by the customer.”

Singh and Sharma ended the session with in a raucous finale.

“We came to Chennai to be at the Hindu Lit Fest

But our experiences at Murugan Idli was best!”