One palace, a thousand doorways
Countless windows in between
From wherever I look
The Beloved is before me
– Shah Latif
How do mystic poets speak to us today? Exploring the inspiration to curate, translate and interpolate the voices of mystic poets in our current socio-political and spiritual realities, this discussion will probe the challenge and ideal of Love for our fractious times. The conversation will bring into focus poems, songs and stories from oral traditions of Shah Latif, Kabir and other Bhakti and Sufi poets, as Shabnam and Vipul read from their two recent books in discussion with CS Venkiteswaran. (I Saw Myself: Journeys with Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai published by Penguin and One Palace, a Thousand Doorways: Songlines through Bhakti, Sufi & Baul Oral Traditions published by Speaking Tiger).
Shabnam Virmani is a filmmaker, writer and singer. She initiated the Kabir Project journeys in 2002 and has since been exploring the philosophy of Kabir and other mystics through a deep engagement with their oral folk traditions. Her inspiration and joy in this poetry has taken the shape of award winning documentary films, a digital archive, translations, teaching, curations, urban festivals, rural yatras and also singing and performing herself. The Kabir Project is housed at the Bengaluru based Srishti Institute of Art, Design & Technology.
Vipul Rikhi is a singer, poet, fiction writer and translator. He’s been immersed in the oral traditions of Kabir, Shah Latif and other Bhakti and Sufi poets for over a decade. He is the author of several books of fiction, non-fiction, translation and poetry. His work with Kabir Project has involved writing, translations, research, curations and the creation of a vast digital archive called ‘Ajab Shahar’. In the course of these magical journeys, he developed a deep love for singing mystic poetry in the folk music traditions and now performs widely. He is currently based in Goa.
C S Venkiteswaran
CS Venkiteswaran is a film critic, documentary filmmaker, curator and translator based in Thiruvananthapuram. He writes regularly for The HIndu, Frontline, Mathrubhumi, Outlook, Film Companion etc and has published many books on cinema and has received national and state award for film criticism. He has also received national award for the Best Film on Art & Culture for co-directing the film PAKARNNATTAM – Ammannur the Actor. He has been the Artistic Director of SiGNS Film Festival organised by Federation of Film Societies of India and has also curated many film programmes for International film festivals and for the Kochi Muziris Biennale.