Literature. Fashion. Art. creating a Global Image of India

Just recently there was the International Literary Festival in Pune ( and people from all over came to express love for the written word. If you’re a bibliophile and a trendwatcher, this was one literary event, you would have liked to attend. The main social theme of the event was ‘global image of India’, to showcase India’s cultural richness & diversity. And it was visited by over 113 prominent authors & the most famous of the famous in the publishing world. We also got to see Agatha Christie exhibition at ‪#‎PILF2015‬ showcasing the life & work of the ‘Queen of Crime’ – celebrating her 125th Birth Anniversary.

Watching trends in such space could be tricky, but here are some of the trends that we observed.

Trends in Literature, Fashion, and Art

Student community and Generation Z and Millennials are writing more than their predecessors (Generation Chart). IIT and IIM wave is passing off now. There are young adults from psychology, economics or law who are aspiring to enter into writing. Take the case of ‘Write India‘ Contest from The Times of India group – we could hear many students saying they have submitted their entries. Great job, Times for motivating the youth to write.

Print books are aiming at short and quick reads. The audience needs maximum entertainment in minimum time and effort. There are many more thrillers, short fictions and popular satire around. We may soon even see short stories and visual narrations to make a fabulous comeback, for the Twitter generation.

Better marketing skills and use of social media by authors is meaning so much more audience for their work, and hence the one with maximum marketing tendencies becomes the bestsellers. Indirect and direct interaction is far up than before.

Even books are available directly on e-reading, people were advised to publish more and by themselves, without worrying about going after great publishing houses. Many authors publish excerpts of their books online for encouraging sales. (read more about the analysis of Emerging Trends In Popular Indian Fiction by Anna George on Academia)

People are asking bold questions, are open about talking sex and related humor. Feminist attitude is strong. There is dark humor for the few to enjoy. But where are the real issues, who is talking about our pressing social problems of the marginals. The artists have still to go a little below the middle layer.

A recent article talks about the contribution of celebs in Indian literary scene: Can a literary fest without celebs attract crowds? This one talks more about a festival in Lucknow. But in general, in India, celebrities are still needed to make literary events successful widespread to reach more people. This one needed Shashi Tharoor to create that wow-ness in the audience, which was no doubt the best of the 80 plus sessions in three days and attended by the maximum number of people.
Celebrities are also writing. So did the ‘adaptability of a novel’ into a Bollywood movie remained the favorite topic of the audience. In fact, authors are also adapting their styles to an audience who watch movies, making it more visual, especially the pre-awareness material like videos, music to stay lingering in the minds.
When it is about creating and showcasing Indian image, fashion is largely dominated by ethnic yet modern Indian wear, organic clothing and brands like Fab India, Anokhi, etc. Here are the examples of how people came presenting the theme in their attires and attitudes.

Fashion is celebrating greatest stories, and many authors have given us those outfits that seemed exciting to imagine, creating fashion trends. Both are equally creative, equally expressive and make for an exciting collaborative air. I loved this article on fashion-in-literature, which has done an excellent job of recreating 10 of Fiction’s Greatest Looks. I would surely want to do a similar comparison on some of the Indian fiction and their characters with the new-age Indian clothing. Soon!
Also, here is an account from JESSE SHAW on TTThreads about the global scene between Fashion and Fiction, that completely resonates with what you could see in Indian space.

There is thus an interplay of the worlds of fashion, written word and art complementing each other, trends flowing from one to another.
For example, the session on ‘Motivations for Artforms’, with Millind Mullick, Arti Ankikar – Tilelar and Nitin Kulkarni. Silence in music and the white space in art are doing the same thing. There are underlying words even in paintings and expressions left for interpretation in the same way as in novels. As, space is covered in paintings, time in music – the voice is like a brush. All of these forms of expression try to evoke the six senses of the human beings. And, of course, there is a joy of creation for the artist and the author.

The perspective of looking at India is becoming more and more mixed with the exposure to how Indians and India, are seen elsewhere.

One thing is for sure. People are publishing more, reading more, not sure how long are they retaining it, but we are all gorging on a diet of agile and varied, in words, music, fashion.

Would love to ask this question to the readers, what does a theme “global image of India” make you think?


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