City Scripts, an annual festival organised by the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS), is a three-day celebration of writings that bring alive the city as seen through myriad lenses. Since 2016, the festival has brought together eminent authors, journalists, architects, poets, artists and others, and centre-staged writings across form through conversations, readings, panel discussions and workshops. Held in Bengaluru and Delhi, the festival has a dedicated and growing audience. So far it has been attended by over 2,000 people.
Some of the prominent speakers at City Scripts so far include Ravish Kumar, Kiran Nagarkar, Vivek Shanbhag, Shubha Mudgal, Aneesh Pradhan, Harsh Mander, Baradwaj Rangan, Orijit Sen, Urvashi Butalia, Mukul Kesavan, Naresh Fernandes, Paromita Vohra, Arshia Sattar, Vasanthi Hariprakash, Srinivas Alavalli, CS Lakshmi (Ambai), Anjum Hasan, Bruce Lee Mani, Supriya Nair, Somak Ghoshal, Amrita Shah, Nisha Susan, Sriram Aravamudan
Showcasing the City
Besides being the only festival of its kind in the country to focus on the city, City Scripts is also unique in its insistence on going beyond the book to embrace a variety of forms of writing that produce and reproduce the city—from novels to Wikipedia, poetry to essays, academic texts to children’s books, and film screenplays to travelogues.
This has allowed the festival to encompass a wide range of themes including city histories, activism, gender, reportage, and cinema, among others. Artists, photographers, planners, poets and bloggers have been part of experiential panels on food, nature, and music in the urban milieu and how these have been represented in writing. At City Scripts 2018, librarians from Bengaluru’s public and private libraries came together—possibly for the first time at a writings festival—and discussed the importance of libraries as a public space to conserve heritage material and rare books, and to enable wider access to knowledge archives.
Language in the Urban Experience
The role of language in the city has been explored at City Scripts both through panel discussions dedicated to Indian languages as well as several bi-lingual and multilingual sessions in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Urdu, Hindi and English. These sessions have included book readings, conversations with authors and broadcast media practitioners. A panel discussion on the ‘city in translation’ featured writers, translators, educators and technologists actively engaged in the field of translation including the act of creating/translating Wiki pages. The session was followed by a translate-a-thon—akin to an edit-a-thon—where participants translated information on the urban into Indian languages including Gujarati, Marathi, Odiya and Hindi.
In order to encourage more active audience participation, interactions at City Scripts go beyond the traditional panel format to open up these exchanges to allow for a diverse—and therefore, richer—exchange of ideas about cities and the urban experience.
Thus far, City Scripts has framed sessions in the form of conversations, workshops, masterclasses, film screenings, keynote lectures, round table discussions, readings, as well as innovative formats such as ‘walking-writing workshops’, translate-a-thons, live art, and games.
Partnerships and Collaborations
Over the years, City Scripts has collaborated with various media outlets, publishers, bookstores, cultural centres, and other institutions in Bengaluru and Delhi.
- The Hindu – media partner
- SAGE Publications – award sponsor
- Goobe’s Book Republic – festival bookstore
- Atta Galata – festival bookstore
- May Day Bookstore – festival bookstore
- The Book Shop (Jor Bagh) – festival bookstore
- The Aravani Art Project – live art
- The Alipore Post – programming
- Fields of View – programming
- Wikimedia Foundation – programming
- India International Centre – venue
- Goethe Institut/ Max Mueller Bhavan – venue