The Manipal Conclave ’18 – an Assemblage of Great Minds

The 12th edition of TechTatva brought with it the promise of a fantastic line-up for Conclave, one comparable to no other. On Day 3, as is customary, the event unfolded. The crowd was bustling with energy when the hosts decided to add upon the zeal, explaining the event as a forum for ideas and inspirations to be heard, or perhaps, realized.

The first speaker was Kanishk Sajnani, an ethical hacker. His work started in May 2017, when he booked an air ticket for just a rupee by hacking into the system. He focused on the strength of ethics, modestly explaining that though he hacks, it’s just a proof of what he can do.

Jitendra Singh and Shivankit Singh Parihar, both actors of TVF, caused a riot of laughter with their entrance onto the stage. Speaking of changing trends in the comedy world, they shared their creative process. Shivankit Singh said, “Our content was not always quality content. Some of our videos weren’t up to the mark and we are aware of it. We used to make three to four bad videos and compensate it with a good fifth video.” They spoke about the creation of TVF Pitchers and how the idea emerged out of a simple thought. With the explosion of start-ups in the commercial sector, this is where the idea was born.

The next speaker was Prajakta Koli, who is well known as ‘mostlysane’ on YouTube. She narrated how she always knew she was going to be a radio jockey and Youtube was something that came her way. She expressed the constant change in content required to keep people interested. She also hinted at a promise of travel driving her channel, instead of the current theme of comedy. 

As the audience started chanting “Bunty! Bunty! Bunty!” in unison, Jatin Sarna made an entrance on stage. He had created quite an atmosphere of excitement amongst the audience after his latest role in the Netflix TV series ‘Sacred Games’. “Ever since my childhood, I have always played the role of Raavan”, he said, while talking about his childhood and how he was always aligned towards the role of the villain. All the opportunities that come your way aren’t merely based on fate – sometimes you have to pave a path for yourself, is what this speaker believes in.

The last speaker of the night had a lot to say in regard to perseverance and the ability to go on despite the many difficulties hurled against you. The Indian hockey captain, Sandeep Singh, left the audience in awe with his life story and how he battled a gunshot wound and came out of it victorious.

“It was definitely a really amazing experience. My favorite part about it was the fact that the orators were so interactive and how they mingled with the audience. Overall, the Conclave is one of the memories I’ll always carry with me”, said Surabhi, a B.Tech student who was present at the event.

After the final day of TechTatva ’18, it was time for MIT to bid farewell to second halves off. As volunteers, organizers and core committee members alike all headed to Fortune Inn for the ultimate send-off, the air of anticipation was evident.
Put quite aptly by Category Head Rajdeep Sinha, the Conclave provides a platform for speakers to express their thoughts, and how they perceive the world around them. On this note, he introduced the first speaker as Dr G Arun Kumar, head of the Manipal Centre of Virus Research. Dr Kumar played an instrumental role in the identification of the Nipah virus, a highly uncommon virus for this part of the country. Dr Kumar walked the audience through a number of many such cases of viral diseases which affected interestingly specific groups of people – such as children of one particular tribal group in Malkangiri, Odisha, or post-independence citizens of Ghorakpur, Himachal Pradesh. He also pointed out the common occurrence of a virus being mistaken for Japanese encephalitis, or brain fever, and the pressing need to delve deeper into medical research in these cases. He then connected this to the Nipah case, explaining that it had cropped up in the north-western part of India, and parts of Singapore, but never in this neck of the woods. The early detection of this atypical disease greatly prevented its outbreak. Dr Kumar concluded his presentation by encouraging the unintentionally disinterested crowd to look for the unforeseen in conventional situations, to expect the unexpected.
After a slightly awkward pause, the second act was presented as the student speaker component of this year’s Conclave, Ananya Roy. Starting off on, quite literally, the right note, she captured the audience’s easily wavering attention with an entrancing interval of piano-playing. She then walked the crowd through the evolution of music production, in a candid yet informative manner, equally spaced with identifiable humour. She narrated her own journey with the instrument she has come to know and love, from her pre-mature inclination towards it to the discouragement she faced along the way, to the incredible passion she feels for it today. Consequently, she moved on to explaining the different fundamentals in the world of making music. Her pure infatuation seeping into every point, she pointed out personal observations of different places where musical ingenuity comes to play, such as the Cathedral of Girgenti in Sicily, or even the Tata NCPA Theatre in Mumbai. Demonstrating the principle of layers in music production, she once again brought all eyes to her with a goosebump-inducing rendition of ‘Piano Man’ by Billy Joel, complete with harmonica. Her knowledge of the musical realm was clearly widespread as she spoke about the history of recording music, starting from Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture to Jimmy Cage’s impromptu solo in ‘Stairway to Heaven’, to the modern masterpiece that is a looping machine. She ended the talk with an impromptu medley of popular songs, leaving the audience significantly fascinated.
Finally, an exceedingly enthusiastic round of applause welcomed multi-faceted writer Ashwin Sanghi to the stage. Excelling in narrating stories of mythology and psychology, Mr Sanghi was equally, if not more, proficient in engaging each member of the audience that day in eager amusement. With the perfect balance of conversation and direction, his presentation was an enjoyable expression of how to make it as an aspiring writer. It struck a humorous balance between self-appreciation and depreciation, with a bunch of inspiring quotes in between. Starting off with John Grisham as an example of literary success, he regaled the crowd with his own tussle with the world of literature, growing up. He then emphasised the importance of persevering even after you are faced with rejection. With entertaining anecdotes from his childhood, he led the discussion to the source of inspiration for his first encounter with writing a book. Taking the crowd through the ups and downs he faced in the transformation of his manuscript into a best-selling book, his story made the people in that hall ‘one of the most enthusiastic crowds he has ever seen’. At the end of such a heartening soliloquy, the students couldn’t help but give the author a standing ovation. A short interactive session followed, consisting primarily of advice to budding authors, and awestruck curiosity of Mr Sanghi’s work.
A short break then ensued, in which a book-signing session was held for true fans of the author. Shortly, a slightly obscure presentation began for JanSport bags. Given by Scott Graham, head of marketing and publicity for JanSport, the company was identifiable for the students because of their excessive use of backpacks and attractive publicity videos that are easily identifiable with this generation.
Ultimately, a deafening applause reverberated through the space, as Manipal welcomed the most famed speaker that evening, Radhika Apte. With almost every phone trained toward the stage, Ms Apte gracefully introduced herself and took her seat, opposite the aforementioned Rajdeep Sinha, who played the role of compelling host perfectly. As she talked about her childhood aspirations and her family’s expectations, she presented herself in an incredibly fundamental light. Talking about bunking college, having studied science in the eleventh grade, her points were funnily conversational. As she moved through her life, going off on a seemingly random tangent about marriage in the middle, she encouraged the young crowd to fight for what they want. Explaining theatre as an ‘extraordinarily demanding and enriching’ profession, she elaborated on the culture and mindset theatre brings with it. After being asked how she chooses the projects she engages in, she vocalized that she looks for unconventional themes, keeping in mind her mental space and, slightly crudely, the commercial value of the project. She then elaborated on the increasing versatility the acting career is unveiling, as she moves through different roles in her life. It was at this point of the conversation that she realized, in humorous disbelief, that she is older than most of the people in the room that day. Briefly reminiscing her college life in Pune, she then expressed her views on the constant controversy that surrounds the cinematic industry. In relation to Netflix, she praised it as a widespread platform to showcase one’s work. She very frankly stated that the online hype around her made little difference, but praised Netflix’s marketing team for putting it to such good use. The publicity amuses her, and she’s always open to criticism. Unfortunately, she had no message for budding actors, explaining that promotions are very new to her. She then stripped down the glamorous façade that surrounds the profession of acting, explaining the tenacity one requires to pursue it. In the interactive session that followed, the topics floating around were sexual harassment in the industry, the difference between theatre and cinema, and the unnecessary pressure in the film industry to look good, landing upon a self-admitted waver in her own opinion. The session was brought to a close with her experiences working in the industry, with reputed people like Rajnikanth, and the lessons she’s learned from her life experiences.
This definitively brought yet another Conclave, and subsequently, fest, to a close. After an action-packed two days of body zorbing, building robots and gorging on golas, MIT now closes the book to TechTatva ’18, storing it carefully to be brought out again next year.

Mahia DeSylva and Aminah Neemah for MTTN


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