VoW 2020 : 10 weeks to go!
By Nidhi Moulik, RJ at VoW Connect
Our podcast VoW Connect originated as a concept and an idea in the time of this ongoing pandemic – little did I know that I would end up co- hosting this project. The Valley of Words team thought it would be a good idea to engage with our audience on an audio platform in the run-up to the festival, by sharing with them interviews and book reviews selected from the over 500 books nominated for the PFC-VoW Book Awards every year.
Currently we are in the middle of featuring conversations with all the shortlisted authors in the seven categories of this year’s awards. Sometimes we have Children’s and Young Adult Special episodes. On other days, we choose to focus on specific difficult topics like mental health, approached through different treatments – for which we were glad to have both psychiatrist Dr Vineet Gupta and AYUSH Vaidya Dr Jitender Kumar on board. Every episode is a learning curve for us too!
From being a homemaker to becoming an RJ – that was completely a bizarre thought at the time. I therefore required a lot of pushing and prodding but even after being convinced, I can’t deny how scared and confused I was about this idea of podcasting. With no other option but to push ahead, we started off tentatively on the first few episodes, with no professional equipment and a strong desire to do good work.
‘Knowledge shared is knowledge squared’, so with this thought in mind, both Yauvanika and I started planning our episodes. We worked out the important days of the month and accordingly started scheduling author interviews. This enabled us to merge information with knowledge and intersperse it with some related fun facts/ quotes for the entertainment element. The informal conversations we have had are often many people’s favourite part of the podcast.
It’s also necessary to thank our enthusiastic and able volunteers who came forward to connect with authors and conduct interviews. Sudha Joshi, Sonika Rawat, Shalini Dhanda, Madhulika, Bijoya Sawian, Alankrita Singh, Bhavna Porwal, Areeba Zaidi, Yauvanika and I have come together so far, along with many others, to have insightful conversations with thinkers and authors – including Dr Sudha Murty, Ankur Bisen, Saleem Kidwai, SR Harnot, Supriya Sahgal, Nasera Sharma – alongside of course our own VoW Curators like LS Bajpayee, Shiv Kunal Verma, Jyoti Dhawan, Priyanka Tolia, and Sanjeev Chopra.
Suhel Sayeed Khan has given us the beautiful VoW sitar tune for the beginning and end of every episode, and Anjum Sharma has lent his voice to our introduction (and his podcasting advice to us!)
The whole idea has been not only to talk about the written word on the chosen topic but also to touch upon their personal advice which can help, motivate, inspire so many aspiring writers who hope to carry forward this baton with responsibility, and to generally get in touch with a much wider audience of people around the country.
If you ask me personally for my favorite episode, I might have to gracefully decline as for me, each episode gave me very important take home points and nuggets of wisdom. Over and above, each edition that we bring for you is a labour of love through this whole process of creative narrative, curating two episodes for you each Saturday and Sunday.
I won’t deny that our podcast has a few rough edges, but would only request our listeners to give us some leeway there and just focus on our strong content. Of course, as we always say in the podcast, we would love to hear your feedback and criticism! Please do talk to us through www.valleyofwords.org.
Personally I’d like to share that this platform has sparked a new way to connect and introduce authors, their books and their views to a large audience. Also the whole process of creating narrative, from our recordings to the editing of the episodes by Rashmi Chopra and Shivani Darbari, is a team effort so a big thank you to the wonderful team of VoW Connect for giving me this opportunity. We aim to improve every single time, and hopefully you’ll find that improvement in our work! We look forward to speaking with you every week – same time, same place, same connect.
The podcasts have become so successful that we have been approached by organizations to share our content with them. One such platform is Sochcast – which has as its USP – programmes and broadcasts with a special focus on women. One will have to mention here that the podcast series has certainly been more fair to the women, and this is our way of addressing the prevalent notions of gender equations in our society.
Another aspect about our podcasts is that these are bi-lingual : the focus is on the content , rather than probity in the use of language. This is the sort of conversation that would happen in a drawing room in a typical middle class household in our country. We are told that many couples, young and not so so young enjoy listening to it as they have their morning cup of tea, or on the breakfast table, or as they sit out in the garden enjoying the morning breeze!