Delegates 2013

We extend sincere thanks to our delegates of LLF 2013


Aadil Rasheed Tilhari

Aadil Rasheed Tilhari is a disciple of Mehboob Hasan Khan Nayyar Tilhari. He started writing poems from a tender age of twelve years. He is known for his contribution in reviving proverbs in Urdu and Hindi poetry. He is credited with first ever ghazal in Hindi or Urdu that comprises of only proverbs.




AMARESH MISRA (historian/writer)

Amaresh Misra is an independent historian, author and novelist. Currently resident in Delhi, he is also a freelance journalist, political commentator, columnist on foreign policy, an anti-fascist, civil/minority/Dalit-Adivasi rights activist, and a film critic. His publications include War of Civilizations: India AD 1857, Vols 1 and 2; Mangal Pandey: The True Story of an Indian Revolutionary; Lucknow: Fire of Grace: The Story of its Renaissance, Revolution and the Aftermath; and The Minister’s Wife. He is a recipient of several anti-communal awards, and has lectured widely in Indian and American universities on the nationalist war of 1857, medieval and modern Indian history, vicissitudes of contemporary Indian politics and the battle for secularism in the Indian subcontinent. Presently, he is working on a new novel, a new book on Indian cinema, and a biography of Emperor Akbar.


AMIR MOHAMMED KHAN (astrophysicist)

Raja Mohammad Amir Khan, known as Suleiman bhai, is a diminutive, elegant figure who has long been a fixture in Lucknow society. He has been seen as the epitome of high Shia culture in a city now known for breeding political mediocrity. With his elaborate courtesies or adabs, the purity of speech, be it in Persian, Arabic or Urdu, the impeccable Oxbridge English, he is the last of a fading breed of Lakhnavis, known for their tameez (manners) and tehzeeb (culture). The uninitiated may see him as a caricature of Lakhnavi culture; the old residents of the city see him as a repository of Awadh Shia traditions. He is not a polo-playing raja, with an English nickname and a stiff upper lip. His family is known for its scholarship and establishment of several institutions of learning. Himself an astrophysicist, he studied at Cambridge and was a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in London but had to leave abruptly to take over his father’s responsibilities and was also nominated by the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi as a Congress candidate in the state assembly.


AMISH TRIPATHI (writer/banker)

In his own words “an un-happy banker turned happy writer”. Mr Tripathi’s Shiva Trilogy was more than just a best-seller a highly documented and well researched novel which has spawned a cult following and a movie deal too. The oath of The Vayuputras is the third and final instalment in the series and had already garnered much deserved praise. The Immortals of Meluha and The Secret of the Nagas, the first two novels have been commercial successes. Mr. Tripathi’s books have sold a million copies in the span of two years with a gross retail sale of Rs 22 crores. The Shiva Trilogy has been referred to as “one of the most successful book series in the history of Indian publishing”. The movie rights of The Immortals of Meluha were purchased by Dharma Productions in early 2012.The Immortals of Meluha has also been released in United Kingdom in January, 2013 through Jo Fletcher Books, an imprint of Quercus Books, UK. The Immortals of Meluha and The Secret of the Nagas have been released in the Indian subcontinent in English and Hindi. The Immortals of Meluha has also been released in various other Indian languages like Gujarati, Marathi, Assamese and Telugu.


AMIT RAI (director)

“Road to Sangam” was screened at many film festivals, and won awards at the International Film Festival of South Africa, the Radar Hamburg Film Festival in Germany, the Mumbai Academy of the Moving Image Film Festival and the Los Angeles Reel Film Festival. The film even got an on-demand repeat screening at Cannes. It’s a simple story of a God-fearing, devout Muslim mechanic named Hashmat Ullah who has been entrusted the job of repairing an old V8 Ford engine, not knowing the historic significance that it once carried the ashes of Mahatma Gandhi which were immersed in the holy river ‘Sangam’. He is caught in a complex situation after a powerful bomb explosion rocks his town leading to the arrest of innocent Muslim youths of his locality. A strike to work is called by the prominent leaders of his community to protest against the unjust treatment meted out to those youth arrested by the police.
Thus begins Ullah’s journey-a journey of Gandhian values and principles. Mr. Rai a young director won the Gollapudi Srinivas Memorial Award for the year 2009, for Road to Sangam.



“Purabia” from the core of the heart, Amrendra Nath Tripathi threw himself into the intellectual domain of J.N.U direct from the rice fields of the Awadh plateau in 2003. Here he availed the opportunity to engage his mind with some of the stalwarts in their respective fields. Mr. Tripathi used his “Desi selfishness” to learn every bit from distinguished teachers like Namvar Singh, Manager Pandey, Purushottam Aggarwal and Anvita Abbi. He did his PhD under the supervision of Prof. Namvar Singh in modern Hindi Literature. But Awadh was calling! So he took a leap forward from selfish ambitions to humble service of the mother tongue.
These days he is trying to develop an Awadhi public sphere and fighting at both ends from English and Hindi public spheres, is a small step towards this direction.



Based on his experiences in the Police Service, Dr Anand Maheshwari has authored eight books on themes related to communal conflicts, policing sensitivities, insurgency and terrorism, blending logical aspects of life with the humane side which often gets lost in this brutal world. His latest book, ‘Mayan’ focuses on the care of cancer patients. One of his books has received the Govind Vallabh Pant award.
Dr Maheshwari, a 1984 batch IPS officer of UP cadre has served at various places in UP and also done assignments in Kashmir as well as Assam while being on deputation with CRPF. Professionally, he has been decorated with President Medal for distinguished services and Police Medal for Gallantry.


ANEES ASHFAQ (academician/writer)

Dr Aneesh Ashfaq is one of the most respected contemporary scholars in Urdu. As a head, Department of Urdu in University of Lucknow, Dr Ashfaq is known for his candid speeches and researches. He often invited to represent Lucknow’s tradition and culture in Urdu academia across the world. Dr Anees Ashfaq has to his credit a number of research papers and an extensive work as a literary critic.



ANIRUDH SINGH (writer/blogger)

Anirudh Singh has been an avid comic book reader and fan since childhood. Having literally grown up with Raj Comics and their compatriots, hindi comics of the era were his first exposure to the comic book medium. An exposure that left a lasting impression. He currently writes freelance and is one of the founding writers for Comic Addicts, India’s fastest growing Comic Fan Collective. Anirudh writes a weekly column for Comic Addicts, a review of the latest international and national releases. Catch him on Comic Addicts, or follow him on his blog.



ANKIT CHADHA (dastango)


Ankit Chadha is a Delhi-based writer and performance artist. At Hindu College, where he earned his Honours in History,  he began his journey from scripting street plays.  Ankit became a known name in the Delhi University theatre circuit for the productions written and directed by him.
He started professional storytelling in 2010 and has,  since then, been working with Mahmood Farooqui to revive Dastangoi.  Ankit has also successfully experimented with creating new content to be performed in the
dastanic format. These self-written solo performances including his satirical piece on mobile phones, which was selected among the  top plays at the Short and Sweet Theatre Festival.
Apart from giving a TEDx talk on this art form, he has lectured and trained the students of prestigious institutions like National School of Drama, NIFT, BITS Pilani and SCERT. At his venture – Heptullha, ( he is conducting workshops, telling stories and writing stories.
In addition to training teachers and students, he is collaborating with schools, NGOs, authors and illustrators towards using storytelling as a
medium to enhance learning experiences.


ANUPAM SINHA (writer/artist)


He has been called ‘Master of Fantasy’ by Businessworld and ‘Daddy of Indian Fantasy’ by Dainik Jagran, and millions of his readers and fans could not agree more. Anupam Sinha is credited with shaping the modern Indian fantasy through his more than 400 comics of Superhero genre. Credited as the creator of the famous Raj Comics superhero Super Commando Dhruva. He is also credited with steering Nagraj to new heights. Anupam Sinha has been said to have revolutionised Indian comics with his work at Raj Comics. Starting his career in 1975 at the age of 13 for a small magazine called Deewana Tej at Kanpur, Sinha got his “big break” four years later, when he joined Diamond Comics, then one of the market leaders. While working on popular comics such as Tauji and Jadoo Ka Danda, Sinha also enrolled for a Bachelor of Science degree at Kanpur’s Christchurch College.The science degree came at the cost of an engineering one at the reputed BITS Pilani institute. He left graduation at the coveted BITS, Pilani to pursue his passion in comics. He has recently made foray into english fiction novels and his debut novel The Virtuals, termed as first Philosophical Thriller of the world, is generating rave reviews from readers.
He worked with Diamond Comics creating Fauladi Singh comics Fauladi Singh Aur Shaitan Tarwill, Fauladi Singh Ki Tarwill se Takkar and Fauladi Singh aur Vinash Ke Pujari. He worked with Chitra Bharti Kathamala of S. Chand and Company creating characters like Detective Kapil, Space Star and Manas Putra. He joined Raj Comics in 1987 and created one of the most popular characters Super Commando Dhruva in Indian comics industry. In 1995, he took over the illustration of Nagraj. He completely changed the direction of Nagraj and gave more sci-fi and mythological stories.



He has taken up a unique task of translating Shlokas of the Bhagvad Geeta into Urdu verses. Driven by an urge to promote communal & ethnic harmony, he is of the opinion that “Geeta, Upanishads and Quran, are nothing less than ‘human heritage’ and they must be preserved at all cost. There is an urgent need to spread the message contained in Geeta among the human beings, irrespective of their religion”. He is also translating 30th paragraph of Quran into Urdu poetry! He is also credited with four books on ‘Natiya Shayari’. ‘Apni dharti apne log’ is compilation of his work on prose. He is a regular contributor in many newspapers & magazines. He is also credited with the dialogues & songs of the serial ‘The Great Akbar’ on television. Uttar Pradesh Urdu Academy, Madhya Pradesh Urdu Academy, Meer Academy, Hindi Sahitya Sammelan, Bazm-e Urdu Adab, etc have honoured him with many awards


APPUPEN (writer/artist)

Appupen is a comic creator and artist who tells stories from his mythical world, “Halahala”. His first graphic novel, Moonward, published by Blaft in 2009, was selected for the 2011 Angouleme festival, France. His second silent graphic novel, Legends of Halahala (Harper Collins) will be out in January 2013. He hopes to sell it with the tag line – ‘150 pages of art! No words!’ Appupen is now back at his desk, working on his next book, Aspyrus. His commissioned murals and art can be seen in many cities across India.



ASIF ALI MIRZA (royal scion of Awadh)

Mirza Asif Ali Jah, is a descendant of the last king of Awadh Nawab Wajid Ali Shah. He is well versed in poetry in English , Urdu as well as in Bengali. He has a deep sense of belonging to the city of Lucknow, and has over the years tried to collect anything associated with the royal family of Awadh. His personal collection has many books penned by Wajid Ali Shah.
He is privy to all the intimate and personal histories of his ancestors, particularly, after the king was deposed, from Lucknow. He is an embodiment of Lakhnawi tehzeeb and is a living persona of everything which Lucknow stands for. He runs a school in Kolkata


ASIF JAH (poet/writer/journalist/film-maker)

A graduate of Urdu Literature and a journalist turned film-maker. Hails from an educated Zamindar family of high repute of Barabanki district of Awadh.
After an early and short professional stint at Lucknow shifted base to Bombay in 1990 in search of better career opportunities. Has been working as journalist for Print, Electronic and Web Media in Urdu, Hindi and English Language in various capacities. Served some leading Media names i.e. Urdu Daily ‘Inn-Dinon’ Lucknow, Hindi Daily ‘Hamara Mahanagar’ Mumbai, Urdu Weekly ‘Akhbar e Aalam’ Mumbai, TVI, Jain TV, Sahara TV, S1 TV, P7 TV and Total TV Channel etc. Joined Bollywood in 1992 as an assistant Director and worked with renowned film maker Late Mr Sultan Ahmed as his assistant during the makings of his Silver Jubilee film “Jai Vikraanta” and “Raama”. Was part of India’s first Private News Channel TVI (Owned by Business India Group) as Channel’s Production Head for Mumbai operations during 1995 – 2000.

As film-maker produced about 1500 hours’ TV software in different genre for leading TV channels like Doordarshan, Pragya TV, Mahuaa TV and Total TV etc. Produced prestigious TV serials like “Kranti, Ballia 1942” based on Ballia Liberation during Quit India Movement, “Zindagi Ke Rang” to propagate Positive  thinking and “Nayan” based on Women Empowerment etc. In-addition to “Yeh Wada Raha” to spread awareness for Polio eradication and “Grameen Bharat” an Non-Fiction series on Rural development to name a few.Also made short films like ‘Open Window’, an incredible tale of friendship between two people during their stay at a Hospital and ‘Pazeb’, based on Jyaneshwar kumar’s classic story and “Gautama – Prince of India, Lord of the World” based on Lord Buddha’s journey from a prince to a saint.In 2009, started first Hindi feature Film “Kuch Log” as Producer and Story Writer. Started another feature film in 2012 titled as “Baat Bann Gayi”. Also started Broadband Digital TV Channel “Imaan TV” in 2012 and Mumbai’s first Urdu Broadband TV channel “Adaab TV” in 2013. Won prestigious “Zainabia Award” along-with Sayed Kirmani, Yasin Merchant and Prof Zahoor Qasim etc and Mumbai based NGO “Hindu Muslim Ekta Committee’s Award” along-with AFM Production, Germany’s Letter of appreciation for work as Media Person during this span.

ATUL TIWARI (writer/theatre artist/director)


Atul was born and grew up in the city of Lucknow. After his basic training in theatre from Bhartendu Natya Akademy, he graduated from the National School Of Drama in 1983, with a specialization in Direction. In 1987 went to The German National Theatre (Weimar) and to the Berliner Ensemble for advance training in theatre direction. Since then, actively writing and directing for theatre, films and television in different parts of India and the world.
Mr. Tiwari has been directing plays for theatre from the very beginning of his professional career. Apart from the production of Classical and Modern Indian plays, repertoire of more than 30 productions in different languages consisting of Western playwrights like Shakespeare, Schiller, Shaw, Goethe, Brecht and Dario Fo.
His production of Macbeth, with American actors in 1991, at Los Angel’s Theatre Centre was one of the plays staged to raise money for Shakespere’s Globe Centre in London. In India, his theatre work with the villages in the south has been a training ground that has helped him connect with the people at all levels. And his translations – in Hindustani – of more than a dozen plays have brought drama from other languages closer to Hindi speaking audiences.
Recently he has achieved great fame as one of the rising stars of script writing in the Indian cinema fraternity starting way back in 1986 with Sudhir Misra’s “Yeh Woh Manzil Toh Nahin” to the most recent “Vishwaroopam”. He has also dabbled in acting playing parts in 3 Idiots, Aakrosh and Vishwaroopam.
He regularly presents papers at symposia and teaches theatre, film studies, screenwriting and history at universities and colleges all over the country and abroad, including Trinity College Dublin(Ireland). Has done a lot of hands-on interactive workshops ,for many groups and educational institutions on theatre and creative writing. Actively associated with, many causes and societies. Currently resides in Mumbai and is a member of F.W.A. (Film Writer’s Association) and SONG ( Society of NSD Graduates).


BEKAL UTSAHI, Padma Shri (poet)

Padamshri Bekal Utsahi is among the senior most and most popular poets of modern times. Hindi, Awadhi and Urdu have been enriched immensely by his poetry. His efforts for popularization and propagation of Awadhi are truly remarkable. With more than 20 books to his credit, he has contributed substantially through various forms of poetry viz. Geet, Ghazal, Nazm , Muktak, Rubayi, Doha, etc. Numerous literary honours have been conferred upon him, including the highly prestigious Padma Shree in 1976. Right from his childhood, he was very alive and sensitive to the exploitation caused by the zamindari system and desperately yearned to flee away. In strangulating conditions like these, it was poetry that provided him solace and comfort.
Extremely well read in Arabi, Farsi, Urdu and Hindi, Bekal ji embarked on his literary journey in Awadhi and is actively engaged in poetry writing even at the age of 90. At one point of the point, Bekal ji along with stalwarts like Ramai Kaka and Bansidhar Shukla, formed an immensely popular troika of Awadhi poetry on stage. He has always stood by the conviction that to path to the heart of the masses is through their language. Bekalji considers Tulasidas as the great poet to have ever graced the earth. According to him, Tulsiji’s he exquisite work of mingling Urdu-Farsi words harmoniously with Awadhi language is highly commendable. Emphasising on literary works Manjhan, Kubutan, Mulla Daud, Ahmed, Noor Mohammad , Sheikh Saadik Jayasi, he is of the conviction that Awadhi is the lingua franca of Awadhi Pradesh.



DAYANAND PANDEY (journalist/poet)
Dayanand Pandey

Dayanand Pandey entered the field of Journalism in the year 1978 prior to pursuing his M.A. in Hindi. He has published around 22 books, novels and short stories. He was awarded the ‘Premchand Samman’ by the Hindi Sansthan for his book, ‘Lok Kavi Ab Gaate Nahin’ and the ‘Yashpal Samman’ for his collection of stories, ‘Ek Genius ki Vivadspad Maut’. He has also translated several Hindi Literary works in various languages, ‘Badki Di ka Yaksha Prashna’ in English, ‘Barf Mein Phansi Machchli’ in Punjabi, and ‘Manna Jaldi Aana’ was published in Urdu.
His popular works include, Bansgaon Ki Mun Mun, Ve Jo Hare Huye, Harmonium Ke Hazaar Tukde, Lok Kavi Ab Gaate Nahin, Apne Apne Yuddha, Darakte Darwaze, Jaane Anjaane Pul (Novel), Gyarah Pratinidhi Kahaniyaan, Barf Mein Phansi Machchli, Sumi Ka Space, Ek Genius Ki Vivadspad Maut, Sundar Ladkiyon Wala Sheher, Badki Di Ka Yaksha Prashna, Samvad (Collection Of Stories), Kuch Baatein (collection of interviews of eminent people in the fields of music, arts, cinema and literature), Yaadon Ka Madhuban (Memoirs), Media To Ab Kale Dhan Ki Goud Mein (Collection Of Essays), Ek Janandolan Ke Garbhapat Ki Trasadi (Collection Of Political Essays), Sooraj Ka Shikaari (Children’s Stories), Premchand; Vyaktitva Aur Rachna Drishti (Editorial), and also an Hindi translations of Sunil Gavaskar’s popular book ‘My Ideals’, titled ‘Mere Aadarsha’, and Pauline Köhler’s ‘I was Hitler’s Maid’ under the title, ‘Main Hitler ki Daasi thi’.

DOLLY THAKORE (actor/theatre artist/casting director/columnist)

Dolly Thakore has been in the business of Communications and Public Relations for over twenty years, and was until recently the Public Relations Director of the B4U Television channel. She began her career as Casting Director and Unit Publicist with Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi. And since then has worked on a number of Indian and international co-productions like Far Pavilions, Kim, Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom, Jinnah, Mysteries Of The Black Jungle, Sixth Happiness, Such A Long Journey, Miss Beatty’s Children, Deham, Dance Like a Man. Worked in Radio and Television with BBC London, she returned to India to become one of the leading Newscasters and Television hosts interviewing prominent citizens from India and abroad including film personalities like Amitabh Bachchan, Shabana Azmi, and authors like Stephen Berkoff, Khushwant Singh, and Farrukh Dhondy. A columnist and film and theatre reviewer, she has written for leading newspapers and magazines in India like The Sunday Times, Bombay Times, Indian Express, India Today, Business India, and Business World. Events she has moderated and compered include international seminars and trade fairs, Festivals of France and USSR in India, National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai, Confederation of Indian Industries, Indian Merchants chambers, the Richard Gere Foundation, and many charity art auctions. Was a member of the Advisory panel of the Censor Board for Film Certification for many years. Has served on the National Film Jury, Indian Panorama Jury, and was on the jury for the Indian Television Awards – 2002. She has acted in a number of theatre productions including “Death of a Salesman”, “Streetcar named Desire”, “All My Sons”, “Gaslight”, “Wings”, etc. She is an examiner at the IIT Powai Industrial Design Centre, and at national script writing, slogan, art competitions; and is a Visiting Professor in Communication Skills at a leading Management Institute in Mumbai.


FAHEEM JOGAPURI (poet/author)
Faheem Jogapuri

Faheem Jogapuri is one of the upcoming Urdu poets from Bihar. His poetry has been published in different Journals and Literary magazines in Bihar. He is famous for his books “Naved-e-Sehar” and “Adhoori Baat” which was published in 2007 and 2009 respectively. He has attended hundreds of Seminars, Mushairas in various cities of India and is the director of Anjuman Taraqqi-e-Urdu in Siwan which publishes journals & books in Urdu. His works have been commented upon and assessed by eminent scholars, poets and critics. He is also an Entrepreneur and based in Siwan, Bihar.


FARIDKOT (musicians)

Starting out in 2008, Faridkot has been a regular act on Delhi stages and beyond. Riding early on the wave of sufi music influx that is still flowing in, they have carved out a cult following for themselves in the North. Faridkot’s music is a mixture of shifting blues guitars and harmonic love melodies blended around a thumping percussion and bass. Described in certain circles as Confused Pop. Faridkot has performed at over 150 shows all across India making people dance to their original music. The band has been featured various times on Radio city 91.1, Radio Mirchi 98.3 and Hit 95 FM besides various channels outside Delhi. (Kolkata, Mumbai, Nagpur and many more). They have won various accolades by reaching the finals of Channel[V] Launchpad 2009, following which their music reached an insurmountable number of people through national TV shooting the band’s popularity to the top of the charts. The band has further been featured on MTV several times while and after the launch of the first album ‘Ek’ and also has great online presence with thousands amongst their fan base Following the huge popularity, Faridkot released their first album ‘Ek’ with Times music in 2011. The album was well received by audiences from varied backgrounds. The track Haal-e-dil, was No.1 on Radio Mirchi for 27 weeks after the album’s release and is still running strong.
IP Singh provides the voice and the words of Faridkot. Backing the Hindi poetry is Rajarshi Sanyal on the electric guitar, Nikhil Rufus Raj on bass guitar and Sahil Mendiratta on percussion. Meg and Sonam lace the music with their lovely harmonies, sweetening the deal.


GULZAR DEHLVI Padma Shri (poet)

Gulzar Dehelvi

Gulzar Dehlvi is a Hindu Kashmiri Pandit who is counted among the best-known faces in Urdu and Persian poetry. Pandit Anand Mohan Zutshi Gulzar Nizami Dehlvi’s philosophy in life is to seek light and serve the nation through pen and Urdu poetry. His forefathers taught the Mughal princess and in the process won the title Rai Raiyan. Mehboob-e-Zari Zarbakhsh, Khwaja-e-Rasteen, Mehboob-e-Khuda, Abul Wafa, Akkas-e-Sunnat-o-Fitrat, Aqrab-e-Khaleeq, Fana Fillah Baqibullah are some of the 101 titles given to Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia by Gulzar Dehlvi.
It is said Dehlvi Saheb has no match when it comes to Urdu Qasidagoi and Masnavi. He is said to be the national poet of India besides being an orator extraordinary owing to his qualities as a secular nationalist championing the cause of Urdu. He has rubbed shoulders with the likes of Rajendra Prasad, Jawaharlal Nehru, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Humayun Kabir, Aruna Asif Ali, Saifuddin Kitchlew, Maulana Hifz-ur-Rehman, Maulana Hussain Ahmed Madani, Lala Sham Nath and Indira Gandhi. Also popularly known in the Urdu circles as Bulbul-e-Hind, Imam-e-Urdu, Gulzar-e-Khusro, Shair-e-Qaum, Mujahid-e-Urdu and Tooti-e-Nizami, Dehlvi Saheb is credited with having arranged and attended about 40,000 mushairas around the world. Since 1936, he has been on the panel of the Ramlila committee started by Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last of the Mughal emperors.
A highly qualified individual with postgraduate degrees in law and business administration and a doctorate in Urdu, Dehlvi edited ‘Science ki Duniya’, the first Urdu magazine devoted totally to science. Dehlvi has been conferred the World Peace Poetry Award (Berlin) and honoured in places like Cleveland, Ohio, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Chicago, Columbus and Toronto, Lahore and Karachi.


HIROKO FUJIWARA (bharatnatyam dancer)

Hiroko ‘sama’ as she would be called in her native Japan is a disciple of Guru Dr.Saroja Vaidynathan. She initially studied Western Classical Ballet in Japan and came to India as an ICCR scholarship student. She has strong Lucknow ties as she Bharatanatyam at Bhatkhande Music University from 2009 to 2011. After finishing the course in Lucknow she joined the Ganesa Natyalaya in Delhi. She will be performing ;
Pushpanjali -Ragam Natai, Talam Adi. An invocation to Gods and Goddesses to seek their blessings.
Thillana -Ragam Behag, Talam Adi
Prayer to Saraswati with the rhythm of joy. A special version for the Lucknow Literary Festival.


JAYANT KRISHNA (Corporate Sector Manager / Heritage Rejuvenation Propeller)
Jayant Krishna

Jayant Krishna is Principal Consultant & Regional Head for Tata Consultancy Services based at Lucknow. TCS Lucknow handles software delivery operations for TCS’ designated clients in the US, Europe, Africa and India. Till recently, he was the Regional Director, Life Sciences and Heathcare, Europe. Earlier, Jayant was Regional Director in TCS’ UK & Ireland geography based in London and was responsible for TCS’ business in three key verticals. Prior to this, Jayant also worked as TCS’ Global Relationship Manager for one of TCS’ top 5 accounts.
Passionate about improving the employability of Indian students for the country to reap demographic dividends, Jayant extensively works on skill development with Mr S Ramadorai, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Skill Development. A gold medalist, Jayant has also been a British Chevening Scholar at the University of Leeds, UK. He loves sharing his experience with youngsters, an aspiration he fulfils as an Adjunct Professor, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur. Jayant has also been the Co-Convener of Planning Commission’s Task Force on Enhancing Employability in India’s Higher Education Sector and had recommended some far reaching interventions. Jayant co-chairs the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII)’s Northern Region Task Force for Skills and Education and is also a member of their National Council on Skill Development. He is on the Boards of a few reputed Indian institutes. Jayant has also been the Chairman of CII’s UP State Council, President of AIMA’s Lucknow chapter, and the Regional Vice President of CSI’s international region. Widely travelled to 60 countries worldwide, he has also led Indian delegations abroad. Jayant has published papers in a few Indian and foreign journals; and featured in CNBC, NDTV Profit and Times Now TV channels as an expert panellist. He has also delivered keynote addresses at several conferences and convocation speeches at a few campuses.
A keen writer and an avid reader, Jayant, propels heritage rejuvenation projects in and around Lucknow and promotes literacy and skilling for those at the bottom of the pyramid. He lives in Lucknow with his wife Bina and son Ujjwal and attributes his positive attitude and energy to his late parents Veena and Arun who were his mentors.


JUGAL MODY (writer/journalist)

Jugal Mody believes that only comedy can save the world from its people. Or at least him from them. He has handled web and social media for Filmfare and Tehelka. Jugal started writing fiction six years ago while he was still struggling to clear his computer engineering exams. As a rule, he only writes to feel like a dog with his head sticking out the window of a moving car.
Toke is a whirlwind of a journey involving Lord Vishnu, saving the world, two Japanese girls who can kill with their pinkies and kiss with their tongues and crashing an aeroplane at Santa Cruz airport to kill a lotta poor people who weren’t people anymore. All of that involving a lot of non-consenual kissing and a ton of weed to smoke. All this while saving the world
“Hi. I’m Nikhil. This is my story. And I swear I have a t-shirt to prove it.”


MADHVI KUCKREJA (social worker)

Madhavi Kuckreja is a noted Women’s Rights activist who has founded ‘Vanagana’ (वनांगना ), a women’s organization dedicated to protect Human rights for women, particularly Dalit and Muslim women. Travelling to Chitrakoot and Karvi, in the Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh for ‘field-work-experience’, following her Social Research Studies she deeply moved to observe the rural women’s plight to make ends meet and survive in a male-dominated environment. She realized that their day-to-day life itself was a struggle and decided to stay back and live amongst these women to help them grow.
Ms. Kuckreja also started a Weaves and Crafts store, ‘Sanatkada’ ( house of craft) five years ago bringing in fabrics and dresses from Assam, Gujarat, Karnataka, Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh with groups like Karomi (silk weaves from West Bengal), Berozgar Mahila Samiti (Tussar from Bhagalpur, Bihar), N.S Toys (wooden toys from Karnataka), SWRC (applique from Tilonia), Aagor weaves from Assam, Karam Marg (street children group from Delhi). Closer home, wooden combs (Bijnor, UP), baskets (Sarpat Weaves from Bhadhoi), Saanjhi Paper Cutting of Mathura, ‘Tanka’ and applique work of Rajasthan and Calligraphy & Chikan work from Lucknow. She buys her products from the grass root artisans and provides them a window for their produce. Sanatkada is also a venue for many cultural events where folk artists from the remotest of areas are invited to perform and are provided a platform to display their talent.
Sanatkada also works towards rediscovering Lucknow’s History and Cuisine, with Food festivals being organized promoting traditional Awadhi cuisine. Sanatkada is also taking an initiative to build leadership skills of young Muslim women through capacity building and enhancing their Technical skills with Computer Literacy classes and Video Training.



Malikzada Javed is son of illustrious Malikzada Manzoor Ahmad. An alumnus of Lucknow University, Malikzada Javed is well proficient in Hindi, Urdu and Arabic. Popular for his Urdu poetry, he is a favourite in Mushaira.




MALIKZADA MANZOOR AHMAD (educator/writer/poet)

A freedom fighter in his youth, Professor Malikzada Manzoor Ahmad served as Lecturer History at Maharajganj, Lecturer English at Azamgarh, Lecturer Urdu at Gorakhpur University and retired as Professor Urdu from Lucknow University. He has rendered commendable services in the field of Urdu literature in various capacities, publishing numerous books on Prose & Poetry which are a treasure trove for readers. He is a brilliant contributor in articles for several journals and magazines. He was President of Uttar Pradesh Urdu Academy, Chairman of U.P. Government’s Fakhruddin Ali Ahmad Memorial Committee, member executive council National Council for Promotion of Urdu, member Prasar Bharti, member executive council Lucknow University, etc. As a scholar, poet and critic he has received recognition world over and has been bestowed with more than 80 various National & International awards. He ruled over the stage of Mushairas as a poet and Nazim across globe for about 50 years ! His interviews & talk shows are a regular feature on TV & Radio. His life and works is now being taken as a research topic by research scholars. He was issued complimentary railway passes by Railway department as ‘Social worker & Poet’.



Manish Shukla is next in the line of great poets from UP carrying forward the work of great poets like, Dayashankar Nasim, Brij Narayan Chakbast, Ratan Lal Sarshar, Ram Prasad Bismil, Raghupati Sahay ‘Firaaq’, etc.
He doesn’t consider himself an accomplished “Shayar”, and is not even in a hurry to be known as one. This is the reason that the collection of this genius’ Ghazals, “Khwaab Paththar ho gaye”, which were started back in 1988, was published 25 years later in November 2012, that too after a lot of convincing from his friends and well-wishers. The collection just has 86 Ghazals, unlike the other officer-poets who’d have had a considerably larger collection of works in a time period of 25 years; quality over quantity.
His humility is a legacy of the traditions of Lucknow. Honesty and generosity are a part of his existence. For the ones who know Ghazals, not only as a mere word, but as a completely different universe, “Khwaab Paththar ho gaye” is a treat. His poetry is indeed his own, written not to impress, but to express. The words are filled with a subtle yearning, not to be heard, but to be felt. But poetry can be enjoyed only by reading, not by praising. Even though in today’s world, praising has become synonymous with adulation, still Manish Shukla’s works are praiseworthy.


MAYANK SAXENA (journalist)

Mayank Saxena is a man of many talents. He is well known as a social activist apart from his contributions as a journalist, playwright and satirist.  Currently, he is involved in seeking justice for the Delhi gang rape victim.

Mr Saxena is a senior producer in the news channel Samachar Plus. Prior to this, he has worked with Zee News, News 24, CNBC and UNI TV. He is distinguished for his inspirational and aggressive views on social and political issues.



MEHRU JAFFER (writer / journalist)
Mehru Jaffer

Mehru Jaffer is a Lucknow born author and journalist. She has taught Islam related topics at the University of Vienna, Austria and at the Vienna American Webster University. She is the author of The Book of Muhammad, The Book of Muinuddin Chishti and The Book of Nizamuddin Aulia, all published by Penguin India. She has contributed a chapter on Religion in Bollywood Films in Fokus Bollywood: Das indische Kino in wissenscaftlichen Diskursen, edited by Professor Claus Tieber, Lit Verlag 2009. Mehru has filed extensively for the Indian media from Europe and Indonesia, including television and reported for the BBC. She has made Vienna is so Bolly, a one minute film on the fascination for Bollywood in Vienna, Austria. Her 50 minute documentary film on Shahrukh fans in Europe called Mr Khan Vienna Loves You was screened at Shahrukh Khan and Global Bollywood, an international conference hosted by the University of Vienna in 2010 where Mehru also moderated a workshop on Song and Dance in Indian Cinema.


MUNNAWAR RANA (poet/writer)

Munawwar Rana is an Urdu poet & writer and is considered as one of the most successful poets at Mushairas across the globe. His poetry is being published in Urdu, Hindi, Bangla and many other languages. His poetry is simple but very appealing as he uses common words & idioms. He avoids using flowery language, which is one of the reasons of his mass appeal. The notable feature of his poetry is that he has used the genre of ghazal to eulogise mother, which is unique, as ghazal was earlier considered a poetic form in which lovers conversed with each other. Mr. Rana has attained wide acclaim for his couplets shers on ‘Maa’. They have been compiled and published by people in many scripts. According to him“Agar Tulsi Ke Mehboob Ram Ho Sakte Hain, To Meri Maa Meri Mehboob Kyu Nahi Ho Sakti”. In fact, most of the sher-o- shayari read today on facebook or in SMS on Maa are the creations of Munawwar Rana. He is also famous for writing Ghazals on the society, politics, and on the country. He has used his pen on every relevant topic which effects the day to-day living of people. He is credited in writing numerous book & articles related to poetry & culture. Students are now doing their PhDs on Munawwar Rana, which shows the appeal and socio-cultural impact of his poetry.


MUZAFFAR ALI, Padma Shri (artist/director/designer/painter/poet)

Lucknow’s very own eclectic gentleman with an array of interests from Cinema, poetry to drama design and Sufism and Music. Mr. Ali’s life is a constant journey of self-discovery, in whatever he does and in whichever medium he chooses. Be it films, paintings, costumes, music or more recently opera, there is a constant quest to unravel the mysteries of life and to find a long-term solution to worldly strife and anguish. His interest in Sufism has lead to the Musical Performance Jahan- I -Khusrau a tribute to the sufi’s with beautiful songs and qawwali’s. His most recent book “THE LEAF TURNS YELLOW” is an omnibus on the Sufi traditions in India and more specifically in Awadh.
His art is not escapist, the artist is sensitive to things happening around him. In fact, he says, his art becomes his prayer. According to Mr. Ali the reason why he has never thought of making commercial films, the kind that appeals to the masses but gives no satisfaction to its maker is his art. “All my films are a diary of my journey through life; and they provide me with a bigger canvas than painting to express my creativity. That’s why, I have no regrets about not making more films,” says Ali who has films like Anjuman, Gaman and Umrao Jaan to his credit. But films for Ali are really an integration of all art forms, with music being the actual screenplay. “I spend a year on the music of the film,” explains Ali who feels that music evolves from a blending of cultures. Probably that’s why his offering Paigham-e-Mohabbat (songs of love) deals with memories of Partition and dreams of a ‘united India’. The lyrics for the songs have been penned by some of the sub-continent’s most distinguished poets like Ali Sardar Jaffery, Ahmad Faraz, Rahi Masoom Raza, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Qazi Nazrul Islam and Jan Nisar Akhtar. The singers include the likes of Abida Parveen and Moin Khan. Paigham is essentially based on patriotism and voices the anguish of people who suffered the Partition and rejected artificial boundaries that divided their heritage and nostalgia,” says Ali who firmly believes that only the artists of the subcontinent have the power to restore peace. Mr. Ali’s previous albums include Jahan-e-Khusrau, a tribute to Hazrat Amir Khusrau, Raqs-e-Bismil (Dance of the Wounded), a collection of ghazals inspired by the couplets of Rumi. His debut album, Jaam e Ishq, was a musical ballet based on the works of a 13th century Sufi poet. He along with the Rumi Foundation organises the Jahan-i-Khusrau a magnum opus of dance, music and poetry


NASEERUDDIN SHAH Padma Shri & Padma Bhushan (actor/director)
Naseeruddin Shah

A three time National Award winner Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan winner no introduction can do justice to the supremely talented Mr. Naseeruddin Shah. Apart from path breaking movies like Maqbool, Firaaq, Nishaant, Aakrosh, Jaane bhi do yaaron and Masoom among numerous others including international projects like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Monsoon Wedding. He is one of the few actors who have bridged the gap between commercial and parallel cinema successfully. He has even appeared in the award winning Pakistani movie Khuda Kay Liye, a theatre veteran he even directs plays and has even stepped into the world of directing with his first movie Yun Hota Toh Kya Hota. Mr. Shah has even appeared on TV and his name is synonymous with the portrayal of Mirza Ghalib in the TV series of the same name. Born in Barabanki his roots to Lucknow are ages old.



NEELESH MISRA (journalist/script writer/lyricist)


He is a journalist, author, radio storyteller, Hindi script and lyrics writer, photographer and the Deputy Executive Editor of Hindustan Times. He also heads India’s first Writer led Band, Band Called Nine where storytelling meets songs. He is most known for his popular radio show, Yadoon Ka Idiotbox on BIG FM 92.7. He is co-founder-editor of Gaon Connection, India’s rural newspaper. Misra started his career as a Bollywood lyricist, when while researching for a book in Mumbai, he met director Mahesh Bhatt, which led to his debut song Jaadu Hai Nasha Hai for Jism (2003), this was followed by hit songs like Kya Mujhe Pyaar Hai for Woh Lamhe (2006), and went on write 30 songs in over 15 films. In 2012, he co-wrote the screenplay for Salman Khan starrer, Ek Tha Tiger, along with film’s director Kabir Khan.
He is the creative director, singer and songwriter in India’s first writer-led band, Band Called Nine, with singer Shilpa Rao and composer Amartya Rahut, working with traditional Indian craft of Qissa Goi (storytelling). The band was launched in 2010, at the launched at the annual Kala Ghoda Arts Festival in Mumbai. In 2011, the band released its debut album, Rewind, consisting of songs and storytelling, put together with narrative recited by Misra.
He is a blogger and hosts a radio show, Yadoon Ka Idiotbox on BIG FM 92.7, set in fictitious small town, Yaad Sheher, and which started its second season in 2012. In late 2012, he along with Karan Dalal, started a rural newspaper, Goan Connection, based in in Kunaura, a village near Lucknow.


NITIN PRAKASH (publisher/writer/gourmand)

Mr. Nitin Prakash; An alumnus of La Martiniere College for boys is a third generation Lucknowite who is serious about the idea of conserving Lucknawi Tehzeeb through not only Literature but also its Food Culture amongst other things. Hailing from a family of printers, publishers and booksellers is not his only claim to fame when it comes to books this bibliophile is also the secretary of the Lucknow Book Club – A Non Profit Organisation comprising of book lovers from all age groups and all walks of life. An amateur writer, who writes poetry and prose and has been an avid contributor to various dailies. Self professed gourmand whose reign extends from the swankiest hotel in Lucknow to its tastiest street side food kiosk. Brains behind the Lucknow Heritage Food Walk, which combines the old world charm of the ‘gallis’ of Old Lucknow and the Street Food Culture which exists therein. The master of ceremonies of this session he earned his spurs while travelling the world with Tintin, fighting in the trenches with Commando and had most probably fallen into a cauldron of magic potion as Obelix. He will guide you through the world comics, literature and poetry and comic as poetry and literature.


NITYA ANAND, Padma Shri (scientist/writer)

Dr Nitya Anand, a legendary figure on the Indian Drug Research scene, known as Nityanand to his friends and colleagues, was re- christened by Dr Venkataraman for his scientific publication to bring the name in line with Sanskrit traditions, and this duality in name still persists. Dr. Nityanand’s contribution to the growth and development of the Central Drug Research Institute has been monumental. He propelled its advancement to a world-class centre for drug discovery and development especially for tropical diseases, contraception and drugs from medicinal plants, areas of special national relevance. The Institute became a hot destination for joint or funded research in these areas with many national and international agencies, which has continued ever since. The Institute greatly encouraged interaction with academia and industry. Dr. Anand is deeply committed to the utilization of science for social benefits, and he took up Drug Research because of the direct benefits it could provide to society. He has been a great champion of self-reliance and self-sufficiency of the Indian Pharmaceutical Industry, and has supported this cause in the Drug Policy Committees of the Government of India and non-governmental bodies of which he was a member for many years. He has also been a great supporter of spreading the message of scientific temper and of science as a way of life in schools. During the early years of the institute, many offers were made to CDRI from the international drug companies especially European countries to conduct research work and produce medicines. Undoubtedly these contracts would have made the institute richer by thousands of dollars, however, Dr Nityanand declined them all as he believed – that first and foremost it is the nation which should benefit from our work!


O.P AGARWAL, Padma Shri (conservator/scientist)

He is the founder and former Director of the National Research Laboratory for Conservation of Cultural Property (NRLC) at Lucknow established by the Government of India in 1976. He is responsible for the establishment of this great institution from the concept to the finish. From 1960 to 1976 he was with the Conservation Laboratory of the National Museum, New Delhi and became its Chief Chemist and Head in 1972. Under his leadership, this institution attained a great height. At present, he is the Director General of the INTACH, Indian Council Conservation Institutes, Lucknow under which he set up ten conservation centres throughout India and several projects and programmes are being implemented. It has been described by the International Council of Museums as the largest network of conservation centers in the world. Dr. Agrawal has been connected with several national and international professional associations and organizations. He was the President of the Museums Association of India (M.A.I.) for two terms. He is the founder and former Secretary of the Indian Association for Study of Conservation of Cultural Property, New Delhi. Later, he became its President and occupied that position for a number of years. He was the Vice President of the International Centre for the Study of Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property at Rome (ICCROM) founded by UNESCO.
A prolific writer he has written over 30 books on the topic of conservation a Padam Shree awardee, a few years back the Honorary Fellowship of the International Institute for Conservation, London had been conferred upon Dr. Agrawal. There are only 18 scientists throughout the world on whom this honour has ever been bestowed.



Dr Pankaj Srivastava has around 15 years of rich experience in the world in Indian journalism. He started his illustrious career with famous Hindi daily Amar Ujala while pursuing his D. Phil. in History from Allahabad University. He has been associated with the launch teams of Star News and Sahara Samay News channels in the past. Presently, he is an associate editor with IBN-7. Apart from being associated with bureaus in Lucknow, Kanpur and Varanasi, Dr Srivastava has travelled across the country in his celebrated long career in Hindi Journalism.




PANKAJ UMRANIA (entrepreneur/tech-expert)

Pankaj Umrania is the founder of Two55am, a digital agency based in Gurgaon, and Co-Founder of TGID (Thank God Its Digital), a digital marketing education and training arm of Two55am.
Pankaj is Masters in Systems with over 10 years of experience in the digital domain in sectors as varied as Mobile, Technology, Creative, Online marketing, etc.
He is a unique blend of technique and creativity and has rendered consultation & implemented solutions for small to enterprise level businesses in various domains such as Telecom, Tele media, Finance, Education, Media, Travel, Fashion, Sports, Advertising, Real Estate, etc. His work has won several awards, CIO award, Best Design & Technology usage award, etc. Before founding Two55am, Pankaj was associated with Webchutney, the no.1 Digital advertising agency in India.
Pankaj is an active speaker and guest lecturer for a number of institutions & events on the topics of social media, technology, entrepreneurship, etc. Pankaj is an amateur photographer and loves traveling.



RAJ BISARIA, Padma Shri (educator/director/actor/writer)

As initiator of a modern sensibility and approach to theatre, Mr. Raj Bisaria ensured for the first time that the dramatic and performing arts conform to a new professional discipline and communicate through a new aesthetic medium. The pioneering effort brought in focus his intensity of commitment and involvement, which in the mid 60’s led to the establishment of a broad ranging, semi professional theatre movement in Uttar Pradesh. Mr.Raj Bisaria founded the ‘Theatre Arts Workshop ( TAW ), the premier training and performing group of its kind in the State. In 1974, the State Government requested him to evolve a scheme for establishing a drama school, which would function as a full fledged academy of dramatic arts. Bhartendu Natya Academy ( BNA ), Bhartendu Academy of Dramatic Arts ( BADA ), when it was founded in 1975 ( with Mr. Bisaria as its founder director ) became the first of its kind in the large Hindi belts of UP, Bihar, MP and Rajasthan. In 1975, the first ever theatre training workshop in UP was held under his direction.
He has directed more than 100 plays of Indian, British, European and American Playwrights. Numerous students of his are now reputed artists of TV, film & theatre. On both the TV and Radio, Raj Bisaria left his mark as an actor, moderator cum interviewer, both in India and abroad. He has been associated with Shyam Benegal’s Junoon and as an actor of Muzaffar Ali’s Aagman, Govind Nihalani’s Aaghat and Doordarshan’s own TV serial Bibi Natiyon Wali and Amal Allana’s Raj Se Swaraj and recently in Ret Par Likhe Naam written by Kamaleshwar, etc.
A Padma Shri awardee in 1990 for contribution to Modem Indian Theatre, the first theatre person from Uttar Pradesh to be honoured so, Yash Bharti 1994 – Life time achievement award by the Government of Uttar Pradesh; UP Ratna 1996; Distinguished Service Honour- Helpage India- 1997; Bhartendu Natya Akademi -Recognition for his unique services and contribution as its founder-director 2000; Central Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for Direction 2004; National School of Drama Recognition for composite contribution to Theatre in India 2004; Aditya Vikram Birla Kalashikhar Puruskar 2010 (Life Time Achievement Award)


ROOP REKHA VERMA (educator/researcher/writer)

Prof Roop Rekha Verma, Ph.D, formerly the Vice-chancellor, Professor & Head of the Philosophy Department and Dean, Faculty of Arts Lucknow University. She has taught there from 1964–2003. She has also been a recipient of the Commonwealth Academic Staff Fellowship for Oxford and has had the honor to be invited to deliver lectures and present research papers in various conferences and international seminars at many Indian and foreign Universities.
She is a prolific writer and has published more than four dozen research papers in various books and journals, in India and abroad. Her publications include Philosophy of P.F. Strawson co-edited with Pranab Kumar Sen, published by ICPR in 1995. Her academic interests include pursuit of Philosophical Logic and Epistemology, Social Philosophy, Philosophy of Mind and Metaphysics. She has been nominated by the Government of India as Executive Council Member of Aligarh Muslim University, Mahila Samakhya and in the Academic Committees of NCERT, Bhatkhande Music University and UP Social Welfare Board. Besides, she has occupied higher advisory positions as Honorary Advisor, ICPR and Member of UGC Philosophy panel, thrice. She was also selected as National Lecturer of University Grants Commission. She established the Institute
of Women’s Studies in Lucknow University and remained its Director since inception in 1997 till 2005.
Professor Verma is also a well- known social activist and has intervened in several dozen cases of violence on women and communal violence, and fought for justice for the victims. She has been awarded Begum Hazrat Mahal Award for Communal Harmony and Life Time Achievement Award in 2006 by Indian Social Science Association. She is the founder secretary of social organisation called Saajhi Duniya which earlier functioned under the name Nagrik-Dharam Samaj.


ROSHAN TAQUI (historian/writer)

Dr. Roshan Taqui is an alumni of AMU & Ph.D from Lucknow University on ‘Lucknow Monuments – Preservation, Conservation Solutions’. His books [ Lucknow Dastavez, Lucknow – 1857, Images of Lucknow, Conservation of Lucknow Monuments, Lucknow Monuments – Conservation Problems & Solution, Hazrat Mahel, Bani, Chanchal, Lucknow Ki Bhand Parampara, 1857 Ke Baad Lucknow Ki Barbadi, Lucknow Ka Shia Samaj, Lucknow Ka Pehla Krantikari, etc ] have been published, all being related to Lucknow and are widely appreciated by the people and more than 100 libraries are credited with the same. He has done a great job in translating many books in Hindi & Urdu. 42 research papers on Lucknow have also been published by him. He has also written 8 plays & directed 13 plays!


RUNA BANERJEE Padma Shri (social worker)

Runa Banerjee single handedly brought about a revolution to the socio cultural milieu of the city of Lucknow, involving at least two generations! Nominated for Nobel Prize in year 2005, Padma Shri awardee she is the founder of SEWA (Self Employed Women’s Association). Mr Muzaffar Ali, another Lucknow personality made a film about SEWA which we all know as Anjuman. Shabana Azmi stayed in Lucknow for months just watching Ms Banerjee work at the centre and Farookh Sheikh till date wears only SEWA Kurta-Pajamas.
The momentum for setting up SEWA, Lucknow came when UNICEF sponsored a study conducted in 1979 on the condition of Chikan artisans. The study established that over 40,000 Chikan artisans working in and around Lucknow were highly exploited in the industry and the middlemen reaped all the profits. As a result, Chikan artisans lived in slums and suffered from poverty; they and their offspring were illiterate; and their families had poor health. Following the UNICEF study, Runa ji and her friend Sebha Hussain started a school for the underprivileged children beginning with only thirty students charging them only one rupee as school fee. The school was such a hit that her students refused to go home. She proudly points out the facing building, the school, the SEWA Montessori School, with classes from nursery to sixth. She held her first exhibition at the Islamic Cetnre, New Delhi and her first customer was Mrs Sonia Gandhi. Later she liaisoned with the Handloom and Cottage Industry Emporium , New Delhi which fetched her artisans a whopping profit ! And now – there exists a SEWA in Milan.


SABA NAQVI (journalist/writer)

Mrs Naqvi is the political editor of Outlook one of India’s leading news magazines and writes on politics, governance and current affairs. She has travelled extensively across India and covered elections in the country, particularly in U.P, Bihar and Gujrat. Beyond her role as a political reporter and analyst, she follows issues of identity and culture.
In an age when the idea of a religious community is determined by stereotypes and old fault lines, Mrs Naqvi takes a journey across the country in search of her own identity among people, communities and shrines that challenge our nations of what make a person a Hindu or Muslim. In Good Faith is a journalistic account of the discovery of an India that at times defies belief- the India of faraway shrines in quaint little places, and of communities and individuals who reach out to a comman god.
From the Muslim forest goddess of Bengal to an unknown facet of the Shivaji legend in Maharashtra; from the disputed origins of the Shirdi Sai Baba, to shrines across the land that are both Temple and Dargah . Her book shows how in the little pockets an idea of a tolerant India still survives. These neglected ground realities the author argues these little islands of pluralism, music, art and culture may yet provide a strong counter to fundamentalism.


SALEEM KIDWAI (historian/writer)

Saleem Kidwai is a scholar of medieval Indian history. Born in 1951 in Lucknow, he completed his schooling there, and went to Delhi to study History in 1968. He took up teaching at the Delhi University at Ramjas College in 1973 and took leave to study at McGill University between 1976-80.
He alongwith Ruth Vanita, co-edited ‘Same-sex Love in India: Readings from Literature and History’ a path breaking work on the LGBT history and literature in India, highlighting the native origins of LGTB Writings. Mr. Kidwai has also translated ‘Mirror of Wonders’ by Syed Rafiq Husian from Urdu to English. He has also written a memoir of Mallika Pukhraj ‘Song Sung Blue’ and numerous articles including the celebrated “Zikr Us Parvarish Ka: Begum Akhtar in Lucknow



SEHBA ALI (writer/poetess)
Sehba Ali

Dr. Sehba Ali is a scholar in languages and a distinguished teacher of languages. She obtained her education from Karamat Hussain College, I T College & University of Lucknow. She has a post graduate diploma in teaching English as a foreign language from University of London. She received her MA & Ph.D degrees in Applied Linguistics from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA. She has also obtained a Certificate of High Proficiency in French from the University of Ottawa and a Certificate in Spoken French from the University of Geneva.

‘Majaz Ki Baatein’ is a beautiful book written by her on the life & poetry of Asrar-ul Haq Majaz as she being a very close relative of ‘Majaz – Keats of Urdu Poetry’. Being also born in Rudauli and brought up in Lucknow, she is a legend who has promoted Majaz & Lucknow at every level and stages of life throughout the globe ! A centenary programme was also organized on Majaz in Rudauli at birth place of the poet.Dr. Ali has also written ‘Learning a Foreign Language – Role of Linguistic Environment’ & ‘Interference from the Second Language in Learning a Third Language’ which are widely acclaimed as renowned Linguistic books. She has taught Hindi, Urdu, English & French at Delhi Public School & St. Xavier’s Boys High School in India, Vox Institute of Languages, Institute of Modern Languages, Department of Linguistics at Georgetown University Washington DC, University of Ottawa & University of Geneva. She is a prolific writer and has contributed many research papers and articles on Linguistics to Journals, Workshops & Seminars. She is freelance reporter and was editor of newsletter of United Nations Women’s Guide, Geneva. She is also a member of many language associations in India and abroad! Kudos Dr Sehba Ali for representing Lucknow at International levels & being the icon of woman-power and the source of the rich heritage & language of Lucknow!



Dr. Sharib Rudaulvi is one the most talented poets Lucknow has given to the world of Urdu Literature. He in his long journey through the realms of the language, is at the epitome of success and is world-renowned. The Urdu poets that followed him envy him, for having seen and heard legends like Josh Malihabadi and Firaq Gorakhpuri. He has been a contemporary of Majaz, Sahir, Faiz, Janisaar Akhtar, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Makhdoom Mohiuddin, Moin Ahsan Jazbi and many other progressive Urdu writers, as his career began as the secretary of the student federation of the Progressive Writers Association.
He has worked at significant positions in the Department of Indian languages, at the Dayal Singh College of the University of Delhi and also at the Jawahar Lal Nehru University. He also served as the Principal Publications Officer in the Education Ministry of the Central Government for 2 years. He has published 14 books, so far, on Urdu Criticism and has also written a book on Majaz Lakhnavi, which was published by the Sahitya Academy, recently.


SKAND SHUKLA (doctor/poet)

Dr Skanda Shukla, (born September 22, 1979), completed his primary education from Kendriya Vidyalaya, Mughalsarai in Uttar Pradesh. He completed his MBBS and MD (Medicine) from LLRM Medical college , Meerut and DM in Clinical Immunology from Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow. He demonstrated signs of great intelligence as a child and throughout his academic career he was a magnet for appreciation for both his peers and juniors. He was awarded a gold medal during his MD and is the recipient of the prestigious APLAR fellowship at Cambridge, UK. His well-wishers and critics look upto him for a sense of hope and motivation . His deep interest in literature besides medicine and his reputation as a clinician, teacher and writer have continued to define his role and contribution to the society. He comes across as a writer who can inspire passionate opinions and an increasing recognition of his extraordinary narration, make him a force to be reckoned with.


VEENA TALWAR OLDENBURG (historian/writer)

A native of Lucknow, Veena Talwar Oldenburg received her B.A. from Loreto Convent College in Lucknow and her M.A. in European History from the University of Lucknow, with a First Class First and two gold medals. In 1970 she arrived in the United States on a Teaching Fellowship at the University of Bridgeport, where she picked up another Masters Degree in History, and then proceeded to get her Ph. D. in History from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has been the recipient of senior research fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, American Institute of Indian Studies, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, and the American Philosophical Society for Useful Knowledge.

Ms. Oldenburg has taught at Loreto Convent College, Columbia University, and Sarah Lawrence College. She is currently Associate Professor of History at Baruch College and the Graduate Center at the City University of New York. She teaches courses on Modern India, British Colonialism, and Women’s History in the Third World, Modern European and Global History.

She has worked in other allied areas, as the consultant and administrator at the Social Science Research Council on the Ford Foundation project on the South Asian Political Economy, been on the lecture roster of the Asia Society and a consultant on their educational programs, a research associate at the Southern Asian Institute, a regular outreach lecturer and a University Seminar Member at Columbia University. And for almost a quarter century she has remained an avid New Yorker, making the project of her life as important as her career.


VIKRAM RUPANI (film-maker)

Like most aspiring film-makers do, Mr. Vikram Rupani too set on the rebel route to the city of dreams Mumbai to seek out a career in films. But unlike most aspirants, he braved the initial years of struggle and used the time and exposure to refine his experiment yielded niche skills into that of a master craftsman.
In his own words, he is a self-tutored- perrenially-learning film maker. After working as assistant, and sub-assistant to a number of film making roles in Mumbai, Mr. Rupani came back to Lucknow and set up Vikram Artisan Films and VAF Production in 2007. Since then, he has been making documentaries, promotional and short-films under this banner. His works have been acknowledged and commended by The Ayodhya Film Festival.


VINOD MEHTA (writer/journalist)

The quintessential “Lucknow Boy” though born in Rawalpindi Mr. Mehta educated at the La Martinere College is amongst India’s foremost journalist and was till 2012 the Editor in chief of the Outlook Magazine. Leaving home with a BA third class degree, he experimented with a string of jobs, including that of a factory hand in suburban Britain, before accepting an offer to edit Debonair in 1974, a journal best known for featuring naked women. With the eclecticism and flair that were to become his hallmark, he turned it into a lively magazine while managing to keep the fans of its center spreads happy His critically acclaimed biography A Lucknow Boy and other works such as Bombay: A Private View, Meena Kumari, a collection of his articles titled Mr Editor, how close are you to the PM? Are all amongst the best Journalistic writings in India. His most recent work “The Sanjay Story” is as the title suggests about the maverick Sanjay Gandhi As the editor of a Bombay magazine during the Emergency, Mr. Mehta was a target of the censor. But The Sanjay Story is remarkably clinical in its approach: there’s barely a trace of anger in a book published in 1978, just a year after the restoration of democracy.


WASEEM BARELVI (poet/lyricist)

Prof. Waseem Barelvi is one of the most renowned Urdu poets of India. His poetry has been published in scores of literary magazines in India as well as Pakistan and some other countries as well. He has attended thousands of Seminars, Mushairas in various cities of India, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, The United States of America etc. His works have been commented upon and assessed by eminent scholars, poets and critics like: Firaq Gorakhpuri, Prof. Mohd. Hasan etc. His ghazals and other compositions have been sung by prominent singers, including Lata Mangeshkar, Mahendra Kapoor, Jagjeet Singh, Tal’at Azeez, Pankaj Udhas. He has published six collections of poetry in Urdu and two in Hindi.



Yatindra Mishra’s spectrum of his works is multifaceted and almost impossible to be introduced merely in words. He is a poet, sensitive to the world around him, a highly observant editor, outstanding translator, promoter of culture, an art critic, and a devoted student of Music. His published collection of poems titled, “Yada Kada”, “Ayodhya Tatha Anya Kavitaayein” and “Dyodhi par Alaap”, were well received by the literary fraternity. His works combine the intricate details of his personal experiences and his rich literary background. His love for arts, gives his poems uninhibited beauty, lusciousness, and a natural softness of character, which is somehow missing in the works of other contemporary writers. His works which, in essence, bring together the various aspects of Indian arts, never shy from the ethical duties of an artist. He raised many unasked questions in many of his writings, while in others he explores for some unseen answers. Communalism, Babri Masjid Demolition, Religious and social tolerance and its relationship with our culture are some of the important subjects of his works.
His works give newer wings to our understanding of arts and inculcate a new feel in the pleasure of reading. His books on eminent people like the well known Classical Singer Girija Devi, Popular Classical Dancer Sonal Man Singh, Shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan, titled “Girija”, “Dev Priya” and “Sur ki Baradari” respectively, are by far unparalleled. For his contribution towards Hindi literature he’s been awarded, with the Bharat Bhushana Agrawal Memorial Award, Rajiv Gandhi Rashtriya Ekta Samman, Parampara Rituraj Samman, Bhartiya Bhasha Parishada Yuwa Puruskaar, Hemant Smriti Kavita Samman, Aadi Raza foundation Award, and the list goes on. He has also been awarded fellowships by the Ministry of Culture, and also for his Study on Ayodhya, he’s been awarded a fellowship by CSDS Delhi.



Dr. Yogesh Praveen a living legend of Lucknow, an eminent writer, an imaginative story teller, a sensitive poet, an accomplished essayist and a lively orator. He at the ripe young age of 75 is still busy writing poems and essays. His famous books include Dastan-e Avadh, Tajdar-e Avadh, Bahar-e Avadh, Gulistan-e Avadh, Doobta Avadh, Dastan-e Lucknow, Aapka Lucknow, Lucknow Monuments (English), Sahib-e Alam, etc. His poetic creations include Shabnam (Urdu), Peele Gulab (Urdu), Anjuman (Ghazals), Indra Dhanush (Geet) and Sumanhar. He has written in Television media and has done much work in some of the most famous documentaries and films like Shatranj ke Khilari, Junoon, Umrao Jaan & Zahre Ishq are credited with his research.