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The Gronthee talk – festivals, writing, bridging culture divides and ideas of the mind…

The Gronthee talk – festivals, writing, bridging culture divides and ideas of the mind…

Wide-ranging and eclectic dicussion…

COVERING festivals at home (Alchemy) and abroad (Cannes), overcoming the challenges of the current global pandemic, stressing our common humanity – and even a little philosophy – came up in the talk between The Gronthee and’s editor Sailesh Ram yesterday (July 6).

He also spoke about his career as a journalist and editor and discussed his work as a creative writer too – penning a novel for teenagers (‘Asian Triangle’) and more a recent feature film screenplay (‘Mirage’) with co-writer and director Sudipto Sarkar. Ram founded in 2013 after leaving his role as editor of newspaper, Eastern Eye (EE) to set it up.

The Gronthee chat has been been viewed more than 1,000 times in just over 24 hours since it was first broadcast live.

Ram and culture connoisseur Ahmed Kaysher; and Shamim Shahan, founder of The Gronthee, a literary platform for cross-cultural exchange, all discussed a wide range of subjects in their 70-minute plus live Facebook chat via Zoom (see link below for the whole talk).

Kaysher, who first met Ram when he was editor of EE, recounted how he approached the publication to talk about the launch of Saudha, Society of Poetry and Indian Music.

The two found a common interest in breaking down cultural barriers and trying to make art accessible to all – regardless of background, education or other considerations.

Clockwise L-R: TM Ahmed Kaysher, Shamin Shahan from Saudha and The Gronthee respectively and Sailesh Ram

Kaysher explained that both Saudha and The Gronthee had a joint purpose in promoting cultural exchange and joining people from different parts of the globe together. Kaysher and Ram discussed the current challenges facing the arts world as public health and safety remain the focus for most governments and individuals.

With one of the site’s strengths being international festival coverage, Kaysher asked how acv was managing the practical issues and why festivals were important for it to cover. Ram said access to, and direct engagement with, artists always helped and was good for the site to be global and connect people with shared interests and passions; and enable a window on festivals that may be physically or practically beyond readers.

Saudha has hosted an event at Alchemy – which was a nine-year long multi-arts festival at the Southbank Centre in London, showcasing South Asian artists, work and influences, but discontinued in 2019.

Kaysher said Alchemy curator Rachel Harris was a great champion of organisations pushing cultural boundaries and forging new links and had cited Saudha and acv as part of an exciting and valuable trend.

The two pair also discussed the merits of the online space and agreed that it was a way of connecting people from different parts of the globe together – especially as they may never be able to meet physically (even before the pandemic).

Towards the end and briefly, they also shared, in the talk yesterday, their interest in the work of the iconic post-modernist French philosopher, Jacques Derrida (1930-2004). Ram studied European Philosophy at the University of Sussex, after a first degree in politics and history at the LSE.

The Gronthee recently hosted the second episode of its ‘100 poets around the world for love’ series (please see the link below).

Launched in 1993, The Gronthee, which means bridge, started out as pamphlet, highlighting new and experimental poetry, in Bengali, and other languages.

The Gronthee – Sailesh Ram in Conversation in full

The Gronthee – 100 poets around the world for love

To follow Ram’s and acv’s journey…

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture