Film screenings, music, workshops, poetry and performances will come together in a unique celebration of words and the different forms they can take at the 2016 edition of the Litmus Festival, which opens on Friday April 8. Established in 2014, this festival explores various expressions of word-experiments, from lyrics to poetry to dialogue, separating itself from literature festivals with the diverse mediums it dabbles in. “It looks at writing at the cross way of technology and tradition,” says founder of the festival Sarita Vijayan, who co-runs the For Young India organisation.
The first two editions were welcomed in Bengaluru’s Indiranagar, and this time, for a change of pace, they’re coming to multiple venues in Mumbai, such as blueFROG, The Barking Deer and True School of Music.
Featuring the works of young, passionate filmmakers Abhay Kumar (Placebo), Chaitanya Tamhane (Court), Spandan Banerjee (You Don’t Belong), Raj Amit Kumar (Un-Freedom), Megha Ramaswamy (Bunny) and Devashish Makhija (Agli Baar), the Litmus Festival’s screenings include both documentaries and short films. From slum-dwellers resisting demolition to the world of folk music to the trials of India’s education system and beyond, a wide array of social, cultural and humanistic subjects are touched upon through each screening. As Ramaswamy tells us about the platform that this festival gives filmmakers, “There’s a group of really good films coming together, all with different narratives. For instance, a film like Placebo is important, it should be spoken about and watched by the youth, but still it isn’t screened in too many spaces.”
“We have no desire to impress. We’re focussing on giving experimental work the platform it wouldn’t normally get in India,” Vijayan explains, pointing out that while the West has opened its arms to experimental forms of art, India is still sceptical. One of the biggest challenges she faced while organising this festival is patronage, since brands are still wary about sponsoring experimental events. She adds, “but we faced no challenge in getting content,” stating that there is no dearth of talented, young creative minds who aren’t afraid to take risks and push boundaries.
From Gauri Sharma Tripathi’s experiments with the neo-traditional blend of kathak movements and words, titled ‘Kathak Catalogues’, to the Mumbai-based band Spud In The Box’s experiments with music and lyrics, each performance that will feature at this festival provides a different take on the form of art they play with. Workshops range from performance poetry to calligraphy, showcasing both traditional and new-age art forms.
With organised chaos leading the way to open expression, the works included are filtered by individuals instead of being force-fitted into a rigid structure. Litmus gives artists the freedom to look beyond structure, as Vijayan puts it, “We’re not consumed with clarity. Sometimes, clarity brings sterility.”
The Litmus Festival takes place on April 8 and 9. For more details, visit the festival’s page.