#LeOFa has well and truly taken off, and C’est la vie the blogging partner is as proud as Punch. On Thursday the 23rd of June 2016, #LeOFa held its Lit Meet. The brain child of Urvashi Mukherjee, it was quite possibly the first Lit Meet in the city to combine a Quiz, a Debate and a Poetry Slam. The latter was held in association with Papercup, the inimitable organizers of some of the city’s finest poetry slams.
Without any further ado, let’s get straight into reviewing আঁTales: Where Minds Meet.
The prelims, let me tell you, were intense: the indomitable quizmasters (or should I say mistresses?) Brishti Mukhopadhyay and Sohini Mallick fired away questions at the crowd consisting of more than 20 teams of 2.
“I think we spent about 60 hours making it,” said Brishti imperturbably, “Most of the questions we framed in those 60 hours, but a lot of them had been hoarded over the years. The other questions were thought up by the technique called ‘Trawling the Internet’.”
With an exceptionally high score of 13.5 out of 15, the team consisting of Oishik Ray and Vaibhav propelled themselves into the finals, followed by Dibyayudh Das and Kabir M Guha Mustafi. However, as the finals showed, things changed very quickly.
1. Dries 1.
(Who dried? What was drying? We do not know.)
The first round was fierce, with questions being seized by teams like pike seizing the carcass of cattle (… I went a little too Ted Hughes there, didn’t I). My favourite question was the following, because it was literally the only question I could actually answer.
Can you complete the list? Let us know in the comments!
2. Theme 1
Oishik’s team got the highest in this round as each attempted to identify minimalist posters of movies and TV shows: 25 out of a total of 40, so you can imagine how ridiculously competitive it was. “It was very challenging and intriguing,” said Oishik who, by his own admission, was completely hopped up on Red Bull throughout the quiz and can barely remember any of it, “a definitely out-of-the-box approach to the usually hackneyed idiom of quizzing.”
These were the ones your hapless blogger could identify with any degree of accuracy. What about you? Tell us below in the comments!
3. Dries 2.
Sh*t went down in this round. No, really. Finding it difficult to fit the format into the 1-hour time slot, the quiz masters did some quick editing to the rounds, resulting in, well, this:
“The first dry round of finals followed the usual quizzing rules of Infinite Bounce and Infinite Pounce, (and then it was changed),” said Dibyayudh, long-time quizzer, “I do understand the problems of time constraints, having managed events myself, (but) when the rules of the quiz are changed midway to accommodate another event, you are not only doing injustice to the participants who expected a fair quiz but also it’s a betrayal to the spirit of quizzing.”
Chandreyi, the scorekeeper, can attribute to the fact that multiple teams made a killing in this round; it propelled Kolkata quizzing veteran Archishman Das and Anish Sengupta’s team into the second position overall and made sure Oishik’s team stayed firmly in the top position.
“The questions were rather interesting and the quizmasters were fun,” was Dibyayudh’s final verdict on আঁTales’ quiz.
“It was one of the best pop culture quizzes I have been to,” said Archishman da (loho pronam), “They should host this every year!”
When a debate’s motion is “This house believes that if magic existed, the information would be made available to everyone, instead of being kept a secret”, you know it’s going to be interesting. Debayan Mitra was intrigued enough by it to compete. “Given how big a part Harry Potter has played in most of our childhoods, it made for a very interesting motion,” he said.
This is without factoring in the person who made his points so forcefully he looked like he was engaged in a fierce rap battle with Kanye West himself (though hopefully without ending up naked in a bed with him), the large smiley-balloon that was bobbing in another debater’s hand (not sure about the context there) and Navamita Chandra of Drammatically Correct, who told this blogger quite plainly that “I made that point because I ran out of points to talk about” (something about prison reform and Dementors being kicked out of Azkaban if Muggles were involved; you’re a fabulously engaging debater, Navamita, but hello, Guantanamo Bay.)
“The debate wasn’t too serious, which was nice, considering that it was a fantastical motion,” said Yashroop Dey, moderator.
The battle’s judge, Arijit Sen, was amazed (and amused) at just how involved the speakers were with their fandoms.
“The debate was sprinkled with fun anecdotes and … cross references across universes, like Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings and the Douglas Adams universe,” he said. “I’m a huge Pratchett and Douglas Adams fan, so it was good to see them referenced.”
Oishik Ray won this event, once again (the overachiever). In all fairness, he was excellent: in a debate where it can’t have been too easy to come up with points, his lighthearted approach set the audience cackling appreciatively many times.
“Considering that (the participants) had less than 10 minutes to prepare, they did a fantastic job,” said Mr Sen, succinctly summing up the grand clash that was the debate of আঁTales.
The Poetry Slam
Ah, yes. Papercup Poetry Slam 0.5. An event that deserves a post all to itself, but we must content ourselves with the few words we can include here.
It was a revelation.
Janhabi Mukherjee, an oldie in Poetry Slams and on C’est la vie (remember our resident slam savants?), got enormous cheers from the crowds. (Duh.)
“My poem was a trashy piece I wrote a while ago when I was upset and angry,” she said, but since she mentioned her inspiration was both Walt Whitman and Lana del Ray for this particular piece, we will studiously ignore the “trashy” part. Similar cheers were in store for partner slam-savant Ekalavya Chaudhuri. “Felt a bit of stage fright, to be honest,” said Ekalavya over Facebook messages (most of the interviews were conducted via Facebook or texting. As Arijit da said, ah, technology.) “My poem was about how humanity is forgetting to communicate, in a nutshell.” To that end, he sneaked in a little Simon and Garfunkel reference (“neon gods we worship”) that made this blogger’s heart, well, sing.
“Our usual vibe is to keep it as warm and cozy as possible,” said Somrwita Guha, Papercup’s founder and primary slam-lover in the city. “The slammers, some new, some old varied from non-slam (anarchy slam) to hard-core slamming.”
At one memorable point during the event, Somrwita di compared slamming to sex.
What, you thought only debaters were capable of humour?
She mentioned that if the “oohs” and “aahs” aren’t forthcoming from the “partner” (here, the audience) during the performance, it wasn’t much of a slam at all. Kabir M Guha, a participant, contributed his “oohs” and “aahs” to Arpita Roy, a petite slammer from Jadavpur University. “She’s phenomenal,” he said, “(despite the fact that) she had a false start before her recitation.” He also praised Antara Chakraborty and her partner Sourjya Chowdhury’s duet performance.
Watch Antara and Sourjya perform here!
To sum up, আঁTales: Where Minds Meet was everything Kolkata had dreamt of, and more.
The event, though plagued by time issues (ah, Chronus, must you swing your scythe on the best of occasions?), brought together fans of more than a dozen different fandoms. Although we would have loved to see a fandom-related poem during the slam (let’s face it, who wouldn’t want Captain America and Ironman to just rap at each other as opposed to punching each other bloody), it was an event to remember as #LeOFa makes its presence felt in the city.