Udaharan started as a small town venture with ambitions of disrupting the center-periphery relationship which almost defines our art and literature scene: big city, big art; bigger the city, bigger the art.
On one particularly depressing evening, Hindi fiction-writer and poet, Aniruddh Umath, and a then newly “recognized” Hindi poet, Giriraj Kiradoo, who used to meet every evening in the dying days of the last century, decided that they’d “expand” their writing lives and concerns.
With Bikaner as base-camp, and with Hindi authors like K.B. Vaid, Ashok Vajpeyi, Jyotsna Milan, Prabhat Tripathi, Gagan Gill, Rajesh Joshi and Madan Soni as “Remote Advisors” and N.K. Acharya as Advisor-in-Residence, they also “roped in” publishers like Vagdevi Prakashan and friends like the painter, lawyer and ex-engineer Manvendra Bagerhotta, actor and theatre director Kailash Bharadwaj (who, in the ruined basement of the never-to-be theatre-center of Bikaner, Ravindra Rangmanch, did a multi-lakh production of Ghulam Badshah, which many said, seriously, was greater than Alkazi’s Tughlaq), the hugely talented and temperamental Om Soni (Kailash’s Balban), the colorful business personality Ashok Gupta whose list of friends included Nirmal Verma and K.B. Vaid, and friends like Rajaram Bhadu, Malchand Tiwari, Piyush Daiya, Yatindra Misra and Prabhat Ranjan.
As long as Udaharan remained active in Bikaner, they found some success in achieving their aims: poets and critics from “big” towns took pains to come to Bikaner, and the two founders most lovingly remember, among others Hindi authors, Girdhar Rathi, Prayag Shukla, Badrinarayan and noted director Bhanu Bharati for accepting their invitation. Besides the “big” events, Udaharan organized readings and discussions every other month.
With Kiradoo moving out of town, Udaharan gradually became inactive. One of the last events was “Hindimay, Hinditar” in which ten authors read poems of ten great poets (Indian and foreign), in Hindi translation.
Udaharan got new life in March 2008 when two friends, Giriraj Kiradoo, still young enough, and Rahul Soni, working on a novel in English and, then, an “out-of-work” poet, decided that they needed to do more than just meeting twice a week. It was Pratilipi’s genesis.
Presently, for all official purposes Rahul heads the organization and Giriraj is the Secretary. Aniruddh didn’t quite like it when he was informed that he had resigned as the chairperson, quoting health reasons. He is now the oldest member of the forum and is writing his third novel.
Udaharan is under the (slow) process of registering itself as a cooperative.
Pratilipi, in a way, furthers the Udaharan objective of disrupting the center-periphery relationship in the contemporary art and literature scene. This time around, though, its virtual non-location has allowed it to bring together the center and the periphery, the small and the big, the “bhashas” and English.
After three issues, it was realized that, despite all its economy, the web is still not quite the place for extended exchanges, in the Indian art and literature scene.
“Pratilipi Events” are meant for extended exchanges.