City Scripts – The IIHS Urban Writings Festival


City Scripts is the first festival focusing on urban writings. It brings together novelists, journalists, activists, thinkers, architects, planners, poets, bloggers and the lay community which lives in Indian cities, and engages with the experience of living in these cities by writing about it in different genres. The Festival will be held at the superbly located and state-of-the-art Bangalore City Campus of IIHS and in its exquisite guest house premises in the sylvan surroundings of Sankey Tank.

The Vision

Cities, as idea, experience, and location, have inspired a wealth of narratives throughout history. These narratives archive the moments, people and practices that make and unmake a city over the years. More importantly, however, they allow for varied and enriching encounters with different facets of the urban experience.

After emerging as an important academic publishing genre in the form of Urban Studies, city writing has been gaining popularity in the mainstream space in India over the last two decades, in various genres. With the city increasingly becoming the locus of a complex landscape of claims, writing about the city has become akin to a political act. To write about the city is to stake a right to represent, re-imagine and re-tell a city’s stories through personal prisms. It is with such a belief in mind that IIHS with its commitment to catalysing the discourse around urban issues in the global south has envisaged the CityScripts festival – a three-day celebration of city writings. Through a series of readings, conversations, one-on-one author interactions and panel discussions, the festival hopes to centre-stage books, writings, writers and commentators on cities.

The First Edition

The first edition of the Festival is scheduled for 19-21 February 2016

 Time Friday | 19 February 2016 Saturday | 20 February 2016 Sunday | 21 February 2016
10:00 – 11:00  OPENING Storytelling session on the City for kids and parents – Nisha Abdulla of Everafter Learning
11:15 – 12:15 City Histories-Memoir, Myth, Archive – A.R. Venkatachalapathy, Naresh Fernandes, Zac O’Yeah, Suresh Jayaram, Samar Halarnkar (Moderator) Author in Conversation – Vivek Shanbhag and Srinath Perur discuss Ghachar Ghochar The City in the World – Kaiwan Mehta, K.T.Ravindran in conversation with Gautam Bhan
12:30 – 13:30 Author in Conversation – Harsh Mander with Aromar Revi. Followed by a reading by Anjum Hasan Murder, Mayhem and Noir – Zac O’Yeah, Indrajit Hazra, Ruchir Joshi, Anjum Hasan, Arpita Das (Moderator) Author in Conversation- Urvashi Butalia with Arshia Sattar. Followed by a reading by Ruchir Joshi
13:30 – 14:15 LUNCH LUNCH LUNCH
14:30 – 15:30 Barefoot in the City– Activism in the Urban Milieu – Savita Hiremath, Kalpana Sharma, Harsh Mander, Disha Mullick, Aarti Mohan (Moderator) Take back the City–The City Gendered – Urvashi Butalia, Disha Mullick, Paromita Vohra, Nisha Susan (Moderator) Metro Graphics–Comics and the City – Vishwajyoti Ghosh, Vidyun Sabhaney, Appupen, Lawrence Liang (Moderator)
15:30 – 16:30 Masterclass – Nisha Susan Readings by Vishwajyoti Ghosh and Danish Sheikh City Stringers–Urban Reportage in India – Indrajit Hazra, Naresh Fernandes, Jairaj Singh, Nisha Susan, Samar Halarnkar (Moderator)
17:15 – 18:15 Masterclass – Nisha Susan Book Launch–In The Public’s Interest – Gautam Bhan in conversation with Kalpana Sharma
18:15 – 19:15 Babel Puram-The City in Indian Languages – A.R. Venkatachalapathy, Ravikant, Vinutha Mallya (Moderator) Cinema-City – Paromita Vohra, Ruchir Joshi, Rohan Shivkumar, Subasri Krishnan (Moderator)
19:15 – 20:15 Film Screening: Spandan Banerjee’s English India Urban Music from Bengal – Rupleena Bose’s Listening Party



Aarti Mohan

Aarti Mohan is a Co-Founder and Head of Content at Sattva. Aarti brings strong expertise in creating and developing content products centred around social impact and sustainability and reaching diverse audiences. She has a strong understanding of mainstream consumer behavior and the ability to work with multiple stakeholders in the social impact, sustainability, corporate, social sector, and content and communications domain.

Aarti also serves as the Chief Editor of, Sattva’s media platform for consumers and corporate employees on sustainable living and social action.

Anjum Hasan

Anjum Hasan is the author of the novels Lunatic in my Head and Neti, Neti, the short story collection Difficult Pleasures, and the book of poems, Street on the Hill. Her new novel, The Cosmopolitans, has just appeared from Hamish Hamilton. Anjum is books editor at The Caravan.


I’m Appupen and I make stories, comics and art from the world of Halahala. I have three graphic novels published: ‘Moonward’ (from Blaft, 2009), ‘Legends of Halahala’ and ‘Aspyrus’ (2012, 2014, Harper Collins). Stories are cheaper in Halahala, so I get them there and sell them at a higher rate locally.

Aromar Revi

Aromar Revi is Director of the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS). He is an alumnus of IIT-Delhi and the Law and Management schools of the University of Delhi. An international practitioner, researcher and educator, Aromar has 30 years of interdisciplinary experience in public policy and governance, political economy of reform, development, technology, sustainability and urbanisation.

He has led over 100 major research, consulting and implementation assignments in India and abroad; published 60 peer-reviewed publications and books; and lectured and taught at over 35 of the world’s leading Universities and think tanks across 6 continents. He had the distinction in 2014 of twice addressing the United Nations at the General Assembly’s OWG in New York and at TEDx Palais des Nations in Geneva on sustainable cities. He delivered the first Kapuscinski Development lecture in Africa on a similar theme following a distinguished list of global thought leaders.

Arpita Das

Arpita Das joined publishing in India after completing her Masters in Islamic Studies at SOAS, University of London. She worked in various editorial positions with diverse publishing houses like HarperCollins India, Sage India and OUP India before starting her own independent publishing house called YODA PRESS in 2004. Between 2009 and 2013 Das ran an indie bookstore called Yodakin in South Delhi’s Hauz Khas Village, which became a popular hub for readings and book events in the city. Das began teaching students of the MA in Publishing programme at Ambedkar University in 2013 as Adjunct Faculty, and co-founded a self-publishing startup called AuthorsUpFront in early 2014. In the same year, YODA PRESS completed 10 years.

Her writings have been published in Asian Age, Hindustan Times, the Statesman, Business Standard, Mint Lounge, Biblio, OPEN Magazine, Kafila, DOMUS, Timeout Delhi, DailyO and HuffPostIndia. She has also recently become a columnist with Mail Today. In late 2014 she joined IIHS to set up its Word Lab and to systematise its publishing programme. Arpita and her team curate and conduct writing workshops aimed at writers writing across media.

Arshia Sattar

Arshia Sattar works with Ramayana and teaches classical Indian literatures at various institutions in India and abroad. Her translations from the Sanskrit of the Valmiki Ramayana and Tales from the Kathasaritsagara are published as Penguin Classics. She has a Ph.D. from the Department of South Asian Languages and Literatures at the University of Chicago. She has been a Fulbright Scholar in Residence at Hampshire College and a Rockefeller Fellow at Bellagio, Italy. Along with DW Gibson, she founded and runs the Sangam House International Writer’s Residency Program outside Bangalore.

A R Venkatachalapathy

A R Venkatachalapathy (1967), historian, author and translator, is Professor at the Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai. He has taught at Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Tirunelveli, the University of Madras and the University of Chicago, and has held research fellowships in Paris, Cambridge, London, and Harvard. During 2011–12, he held the ICCR Chair in Indian Studies at the National University of Singapore. Chalapathy has published widely on the social, cultural and intellectual history of colonial Tamilnadu. Apart from his scholarly writings in English he has written/edited over twenty books in Tamil combining scholarly discipline with literary flair. His publications include In Those Days There Was No Coffee: Writings in Cultural History (Yoda Press, 2006), and The Province of the Book: Scholars, Scribes and Scribblers in Colonial Tamilnadu (Permanent Black, 2012).

Danish Sheikh

Danish Sheikh is a writer and lawyer based in Delhi, consulting with the Alternative Law Forum and the International Commission of Jurists. He works on issues relating to LGBT rights, anti-discrimination and the intersections of law and literature and serves as visiting faculty at a number of law schools across the country. He won the Toto Award for Creative Writing in 2016 for a series of short stories on libraries and bibliophilia.

Disha Mullick

Disha Mullick has worked in publishing and media before joining Khabar Lahariya, and has been with the newspaper in a leadership capacity for the past 8 years. She is currently working on sustainability and a new avatar for Khabar Lahariya: expanding what has been an award-wining rural newspaper project to a successful digital media enterprise.

Gautam Bhan

Gautam Bhan teaches urban politics, planning and development at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements, Bangalore. His writing, research and practice focuses on the politics of poverty in contemporary urban India with a focus on urban displacement, access to affordable housing, and housing policy in India.

Gautam is the co-editor of Because I have a Voice: Queer Politics in India (Yoda Press) and co-author of Swept off the Map: Surviving Eviction and Resettlement in Delhi (Yoda Press). He is Sexualities Series editor at Yoda Press. His writing has appeared frequently in Caravan, India Today, Tehelka, Indian Express, the Hindustan Times and the Times of India. He also writes regularly on His forthcoming book is entitled In the Public’s Interest: Citizenship, Evictions and Inequality in Contemporary Delhi (Orient Blackswan and University of Georgia Press, 2016).

Harsh Mander

Harsh Mander, writer, human rights worker, columnist, researcher and teacher, works with survivors of mass violence, hunger, homeless persons and street children. His books include ‘Unheard Voices: Stories of Forgotten Lives’, ‘The Ripped Chest: Public Policy and the Poor in India’, ‘Fear and Forgiveness: The Aftermath of Massacre’, ‘Fractured Freedom: Chronicles from India’s Margins’, ‘Untouchability in Rural India’ (co-authored), ‘Living with Hunger’ and ‘Ash in the Belly: India’s Unfinished Battle against Hunger’. He regularly writes columns for the Hindu, Hindustan Times and the Mint, and contributes frequently to scholarly journals. His stories have been adapted for films, such as Shyam Benegal’s Samar, and Mallika Sarabhai’s dance drama Unsuni.

Indrajit Hazra

Indrajit Hazra is a writer and journalist. He is the author of the novels The Burnt Forehead of Max SaulThe Garden of Earthly Delights and The Bioscope Man, all of them intimately exploring the idea of the city. He has also written Grand Delusions, A Short Biography of Kolkata. He lives in New Delhi.

Jairaj Singh

Jairaj Singh is a New Delhi based writer and journalist. He is the editor of DailyO, India Today’s opinion website. Prior to this, he was the editor of Time Out Delhi and before that the Editor of two papers for the Hindustan Times, HT Edge and Mini.

Kaiwan Mehta

Kaiwan Mehta, born in Mumbai, is a theorist and critic in the fields of visual culture, architecture, and city studies. He is completing his doctorate at the Centre for the Study of Culture and Society, Bengaluru, under the aegis of Manipal University; and has now published as well as exhibited his research work and ideas internationally. He authored Alice in Bhuleshwar: Navigating a Mumbai Neighbourhood (Yoda Press. New Delhi, 2009). Since March 2012 he has been the Managing Editor of Domus India (Spenta Multimedia) and is associated with Jnanapravaha (Mumbai) since 2007 where he set up the Art, Criticism and Theory. He has been elected as the Jury Chairman for two consecutive terms (2015–17 and 2017–2019) for the international artists’ residency programme across 11 disciplines at the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany. Mehta recently co-curated with Rahul Mehrotra and Ranjit Hoskote the national exhibition on architecture – ‘The State of Architetcure: Practices and Processes in India’ (UDRI, 2016) at the NGMA, Mumbai.

Kalpana Sharma

Kalpana Sharma is an independent journalist, and currently consulting editor with Economic & Political Weekly. In over four decades as a journalist specializing in developmental, environmental and gender issues, she has worked with Himmat Weekly, Indian Express, The Times of India and The Hindu. She is the author of “Rediscovering Dharavi: Stories from Asia’s Largest Slum”.

K T Ravindran

K T Ravindran is the Dean Emeritus, RICS School of Built Environment Amity University, Chairman of the Architectural Heritage Committee of INTACH, Trustee of the Indian Heritage Cities Network Foundation and was Member of the Advisory Board for the United Nations Capital Master Plan, New York. He was member of Shri Sivaramakrishnan Committee for locating the new Capital for Andhra Pradesh and is subsequently member of the international Jury for Capital Complex in Amaravati.

He taught urban design for three decades in the School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi and is Founder President of the Institute of Urban Designers India. His practice includes design of green-field cities, cultural buildings, memorials, adaptive reuse and Urban Conservation. He has been Chairman of the Delhi Urban Art Commission and his works and research are published in journals and books internationally.

Lawrence Liang

Lawrence Liang is an independent lawyer and researcher who worked with the Alternative Law Forum which he helped co-found. He also moonlights as a film and media scholar and has been an avid comics reader but only recently developed a theoretical interest in comics. He has recently finished a book on libraries and the future of reading and is completing another one on law and justice in Indian cinema. He writes for a number of places including e-flux and Kafila, and has taught and lectured at many universities in India, US and Europe.

Naresh Fernandes

Naresh Fernandes is the editor of, a digital news publication. He is the author of two books about Bombay. His articles have appeared in several anthologies and news publications.

Nisha Abdulla

Nisha Abdulla is a theatre practitioner, writer and professional storyteller. She is a big believer in the power of stories and is always thrilled to find her life converging around stories. As co-founder of Ever After Learning, her expertise lies in crafting original stories with strong messages about appreciating the environment, diversity and inclusion.

Nisha Susan

Nisha Susan is a writer and a founder of the feminist magazine The Ladies Finger. Previously, she co-managed Yahoo Originals, an award-winning long-form reporting and immersive storytelling destination on Yahoo News. She has been Features Editor at Tehelka magazine. She has also published short fiction with Penguin, Zubaan and n+1 magazine.

Paromita Vohra

Paromita Vohra is the award-winning director of landmark Indian documentaries like Unlimited Girls and Q2P among others and writer of the fiction feature Khamosh Pani. She writes widely on feminism, popular culture, film, urban life and desire, including two popular newspaper columns. Her latest project is, a multi-media digital space about sex, love and desire.


Ravikant is a bilingual historian, writer, and translator. He read, researched, and taught modern Indian and world history in various colleges of Delhi University before joining the Centre’s Sarai programme at its inception in 2000. Ravikant’s collaboratively edited books include Translating Partition: Stories, Essays, Criticism with Tarun Saint (2001); Deewan e Sarai 01: Media Vimarsh: Hindi Janpad (2002), Deewan e Sarai 02: Shaharnama with Sanjay Sharma (2005).

His recently published essays can be found on the web at, KafilaRachnakar, GadyakoshJanaki Pul, and the Deewan mailing list, which he manages.

Rohan Shivkumar

Rohan Shivkumar is an architect and an urban designer practicing in Mumbai. He is the Deputy Director at the Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute for Architecture and Environmental Studies. His work ranges from architectural and interior design projects, to urban research and consultancy projects on issues concerning housing, public space and sanitation within a private practice and through the KRVIA. He is interested in the exploring the many ways of reading and representing the city. Rohan is the co-editor of the publication on an interdisciplinary research and art collaboration- ‘Project Cinema City’. He also curates film programmes and writes occasionally on his blog ‘Anarchytect’ on cinema and urban issues.

Ruchir Joshi

Ruchir Joshi is a writer, columnist and filmmaker. He is the author of a novel, The Last Jet-Engine Laugh. He edited India’s first anthology of contemporary erotica, Electric Feather: The Tranquebar Book of Erotic Stories. Moving Parts is a series of dispatches from the irregular landscape of Indian working life and parts of it appear in Granta 109, ‘Work’. Tracing Puppa, part of a series of essays about fathers, memory and growing up, was published in Granta 10. A lot of Joshis’ work, in film, essays and fiction writing has cenred around cities, especially Calcutta, where he lives. This year Joshi is hoping to finish his second novel, set in Calcutta during the Second World War.

Rupleena Bose

Rupleena Bose teaches English Literature at University of Delhi and is pursuing her doctoral research on urban music in Bengal. After hours, she writes fiction and nonfiction films, which have gathered awards and travelled to film festivals across the world. Her directorial film Humour Black is a docu-fiction exploring satire, art and absurdity.

Samar Halarnkar

Samar Halarnkar is editor of, a data-driven, public-interest journalism non-profit. He has been a visiting lecturer at the University of California-Berkeley and a fellow at the Nieman Foundation, Harvard University. A journalist for 24 years, his last full-time job was Managing Editor of the Hindustan Times. He is the author of two books.

Savita Hiremath

Savita Hiremath has been a journalist since 1997 with stints in ‘Deccan Herald’, ‘The Times of India’ and ‘The New Indian Express’ spread over 11-12 years. She also headed a journalism institute for a year. As a syndicated writer for the US-based sports magazine ‘Bleacher Report’, she wrote on tennis. Her blog, Endlessly Green covers a range of environmental issues with special focus on solid waste management, climate change, and organic urban farming.

Spandan Banerjee

Spandan Banerjee is a National Award winning filmmaker and founder of Overdose Films. For the last 14 years Overdose has remained an independent, alternative art and film space. A few of his films include Beware DogsYou Don’t BelongTo-Let and English India have travelled all over the world. Beware Dogs premiered at Rotterdam in 2008 calling it the first Indian ‘Rockumentary’ of its style. All his films have a distinct language and have often been compared to jazz in its form.

Srinath Perur

Srinath Perur is the author of the travelogue If It’s Monday It Must Be Madurai and the translator of Ghachar Ghochar.

Subasri Krishnan

Subasri Krishnan has been a filmmaker for more than a decade. She also heads the Media Lab at the Indian Institute for Human Settlement (IIHS).

Her documentary films deal with contemporary politics. Her first documentary film ‘Brave New Medium’ on internet censorship in South-­‐East Asia, has been screened at film festivals, both nationally and internationally. The award-­‐winning ‘This or That Particular Person’ looks at the idea of official identity documents, and in that context, the Unique Identity number. The film was adjudged as the Best Short Documentary Film at the International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala (IDSFFK), 2013. Her new documentary film ‘What The Fields Remember’ explores ideas of memory, violence and justice through survivors’ narratives of the massacre.

As part of the Media Lab at IIHS, she teaches and curates the Urban Lens film festival. Prior to going to film school, Subasri worked for the academic journal ‘Seminar’.

Suresh Jayaram

Suresh Jayaram is an artist, art historian, arts administrator and curator from Bangalore.

He is the Founder, Director of Visual Art Collective/1.Shanhtiroad Studio an international artist’s residency and alternative art space in Bangalore, India. He is currently involved in art practice, urban mapping, archiving, curation and arts education. His keen interest in environmental and urban developmental issues influences his work.

He lives and works in Bangalore.

Urvashi Butalia

Urvashi Butalia is a publisher and writer. Co-founder of Kali for Women, India’s first feminist publishing house, she is currently Director of Zubaan, an imprint of Kali. A long term activist in the women’s movement in India, she also writes and publishes widely on issues related to women and gender in India. She has worked on the Partition of India for many years. Among her best known publications are: Speaking Peace: Women’s Voices from Kashmir (edited), Partition: The Long Shadow (edited) and the award-winning history of Partition, The Other Side of Silence: Voices from the Partition of India (winner of the Nikkei Asia Award 2003 and the Oral History Book Association Award 2001). In 2011 she was awarded the Padma Shri by the Indian government for her contribution to women’s publishing and education.

Vidyun Sabhaney

Vidyun Sabhaney is a writer primarily interested in comics and visual narrative, based in New Delhi. Her independent work has been published by Penguin India, Blaft Publications Pvt. Ltd., Zubaan and COMIX.INDIA. She runs Captain Bijli Comics, an independent comics publishing project which aims to develop new content, distribution and dialogue around the form – thus far it has produced two books, with a collection of non-fiction comics titled First Hand: Graphic Non Fiction from India due in 2016, which will be published by Yoda Press.

Vinutha Mallya

Vinutha Mallya is an editor, journalist and publishing-industry consultant based in Bangalore. She recently co-founded Kaavi Literary Agency, to represent writers and translators of Indian languages. An advisor to the Publishing Next conference in Goa, she is also contributing editor to Publishing Perspectives and a consulting editor to Mapin Publishing. Mallya was a Fellow of the Frankfurt Book Fair Fellowship Programme in 2010.

Vishwajyoti Ghosh

Vishwajyoti Ghosh is an Indian graphic novelist and cartoonist working in the realm of social, educational and political themes.

His is author of the graphic novel ‘Delhi Calm’ (2010). In it Ghosh brings together realistic comic passages with political commentaries and fantastical elements in order to remember a particularly incisive period in more recent Indian history, the state of internal emergency from 1975 to 1977, referred to in India as ‘The Emergency’.

He is one of the principal designers of the Inverted Commas initiative, a communications collective specialsing in social communications also using comics and graphic narratives.

Ghosh lives and works in New Delhi.

Vivek Shanbhag

Vivek Shanbhag writes in Kannada. He has published five short story collections, three novels and two plays, and has edited two anthologies, one of them in English. Vivek’s stories have been translated into English and other Indian languages. Many of his stories have been adapted for the stage, and one of them, ‘Nirvana’, has been made into a short film.

He founded and edited the pioneering Kannada literary journal Desha Kaala for seven years. His critically acclaimed novel, Ghachar Ghochar is just published by HarperCollins India in an English translation. An engineer by training, Vivek currently lives in Bangalore.

Zac O’Yeah

Zac O’Yeah is the author of popular comic thrillers Hari, a Hero for Hire (2015) described by bestselling novelist Ashok Banker as “one of the best crime novels set in India written by anyone,” and also Mr. Majestic! (2013) and Once Upon a Time in Scandinavistan (2010), plus ten other books including a biography of Mahatma Gandhi which was shortlisted for the August Prize as the best Swedish non-fiction book of 2008. He has been translated into several languages. Earlier, he worked in the theatre and music business in Sweden until he retired early, at 25, to come to India. His books range from detective fiction to history and travelogue, and he has also translated Indian literature into Swedish. As a veteran travel writer, he is a frequent contributor to National Geographic Traveller magazine, he is also a columnist with The Hindu BusinessLine and an influential literary critic.


The videos listed below are recordings of ‘Authors in Conversation’ sessions at City Scripts 2016.

video_thumb_Harsh Mander_Aromar Revivideo_thumb_Gautam Bhanvideo_thumb_Ravindran_Kaiwan Mehta video_thumb_Urvashi Butalia video_thumb_Vivek_Ghachar

Image Gallery

Image Gallery of City Scripts 2016.

anjum hasan reading aromar revi talking to harsh mander arpita das and anjum hasan At the festival bookstore Babel Puram city histories CityScripts brochure CityStringers Comics and the City full house---barefoot in the city GhacharGhochar Launch of In the Public's Interest by Gautam Bhan Masterclass---Nisha Susan Murder Mayhem and Noir Nisha Abdullah-storytelling session 2 Nisha Abdullah---storytelling session our cool poster RaviKant-Auto ke peechche kya hai Take Back the Streets The speakers go for a Walk in Malleswaram

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