The first day of the 6th Woodpecker International Film Festival saw veteran actor-director-playwright Avijit Dutt conduct a masterclass on storytelling for an enthusiastic audience, at the Siri Fort Auditorium in New Delhi on 23 November. The masterclass lasted about three hours where Dutt told ‘stories’ of his rather diverse and eclectic career and the significance of spinning a yarn for the audience – whether in the arts or in business.
Dutt is a veteran actor, filmmaker, theatre practitioner, and communications consultant. He graduated with an MA in English from Calcutta University and has directed and acted in over 75 plays in the English, Hindi and Bengali languages. Dutt has featured in several noteworthy national and international films productions like Mira Nair’s Kamasutra: A Tale Of Love (1996) and Rakesh Ranjan Kumar’s Gandhi To Hitler (2011), among many others.
Currently, he serves as the director and chief motivator of Enable Advisory & Intervention in CSR-based development. He has filed two different patents in women’s sanitation and health care. Dutt also served as the COO and creative director of national advertising agency iB&W, and as president of marketing at Olive Telecom. A teacher of communication at the post-graduate level, Dutt has also tirelessly worked on child abuse with UNICEF and NHRC (National Human Rights Commission).
His own featurette on child abuse, Akkar Bakkar, was screened in Parliament and the Cannes Film Festival in 2007.
“What is the one common thing between us and the cave dwellers?” asks Dutt as he begins the masterclass. “That sitting by the fire what they did then, we do now — spin the yarn, tell the story.”
Dutt emphasizes that storytelling is everywhere — from the ancient past to the present, in the literature and writings of the liberal arts to the brand-building and PR of companies, in bound books and in PowerPoint presentations.
Dutt charmed the audience with detailed performative storytelling of his career’s biggest highlights, the innovation and brand-building for nable Advisory & Intervention, the sets of Kamasutra: A Tale Of Love, the business pitches for international clientele, the trials and tribulations of success.
What weaved all of this together was the act of storytelling being integral to these developments.
“We as human beings are hardwired to the story,” declares Dutt as the masterclass transforms through lectures, interactive sessions, group activities and the audience tries their minds at a myriad of ways of narration.
The Woodpecker International Film Festival was held from 23 to 25 November 2018. The programme included an eclectic collection of Indian and international short films, feature films, documentaries and masterclasses centred around the issues of gender, sexuality, environment, wildlife, immigration and other contemporary concerns plaguing the social order today.