City Scripts

Celebrating writing in and about the city

City writing has gained popularity in the mainstream space in India over the last two decades across various genres. Aman Sethi’s A Free Man, Naresh Fernandes’ City Adrift and Vivek Shanbhag’s Ooru Bhanga are some examples of narratives that archive the moments, people and practices that make and unmake a city over the years. 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 discourse around urban issues in the global south, has envisaged the CityScripts festival – a three-day celebration of city writings. It brings together novelists, journalists, activists, thinkers, architects, planners, poets, bloggers and the lay community, and engages with the experience of living in Indian cities by writing about it in different genres. 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.

Over 300 people attended the first edition, which was held between 19 and 21 February 2016. The three days featured moderated panel discussions around city histories, activism in cities, gender and cities, urban reportage in India, and cities and cinema; a master class on writing; conversations with authors on their books; storytelling sessions on the city for parents and kids; book readings; the launch of Gautam Bhan’s In The Public’s Interest; film screenings; and one-on-one author interactions.




Aarti Mohan Anjum Hasan Appupen Aromar Revi
Arpita Das Arshia Sattar A R Venkatachalapathy Danish Sheikh
Disha Mullick Gautam Bhan Harsh Mander Indrajit Hazra
Jairaj Singh Kaiwan Mehta Kalpana Sharma K T Ravindran
Lawrence Liang Naresh Fernandes Nisha Abdulla Nisha Susan
Paromita Vohra Ravikant Rohan Shivkumar Ruchir Joshi
Rupleena Bose Samar Halarnkar Savita Hiremath Spandan Banerjee
Srinath Perur Subasri Krishnan Suresh Jayaram Urvashi Butalia
Vidyun Sabhaney Vinutha Mallya Vishwajyoti Ghosh Vivek Shanbhag
Zac O’Yeah

The second edition of the IIHS urban writings festival City Scripts–Bengaluru was attended by over 500 people in February 2017. It featured eminent authors, journalists and others involved in writing in and about the city. Topics such as music and movies in the city, the Jallikattu protests in Chennai, media and censorship, and public art were discussed over the three days. Panelists included Shubha Mudgal, CS Lakshmi, Kiran Nagarkar and Baradwaj Rangan. The Tejeshwar Singh Memorial Award for Excellence in Writing on the Urban was instituted this year and awarded to Amrita Shah for her book ‘Ahmedabad: A City in the World’.


The first edition of City Scripts–Delhi was held at the India International Centre (IIC) Annexe and the Goethe Institut/ Max Mueller Bhavan in March 2017. The three-day event hosted a series of readings, conversations and moderated panel discussions around a range of themes including poetry, violence, cinema, masculinities, reportage and walking in the city. Noted panelists included Ravish Kumar, Kiran Nagarkar, Shahid Amin and Monalisa Changkija, among several others.




Amrita Shah Aneesh Pradhan Arpita Das Arshia Sattar
A R Venkatachalapathy Aruna Ganesh Ram Amitabh Kumar Baradwaj Rangan
Bina Paul Bridget White-Kumar Claire Rao C S Lakshmi
Dipankar Hamsa Iyer Harsh Mander  Jenny Pinto
Karen Coelho Manogna Shastry Mudnakudu Chinnaswamy Naresh Fernandes
Nisha Abdulla Nisha Susan Paranjoy Guha Thakurta Priya Chetty-Rajagopal
Rakesh Ragunathan Rana Ayyub Rohini Nilekani Rupleena Bose
Samar Halarnkar  Shubha Mudgal  Sidharth Bhatia Subasri Krishnan
Sultan Ismail Supriya Nair Vasanthi Hariprakash Vasudhendra