By Anirudh Singla
When William Dalrymple and Namita Gokhale-the directors of the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) started this multi-cultural event ten years ago, little did they know that in the future, they’ll host an ardent following of tens of thousands of literary enthusiasts, for whom the journey to Jaipur would resemble an annual pilgrimage to bliss.
The festival started on 19th of January and hasn’t stopped creating charismatic frenzy all around ever since. Inaugurated by legendary lyricist Gulzar, mystic Sadhguru, American poet Anne Waldman and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, the stage was set and the lights were ready to dazzle. The atmosphere at the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival at the Diggi Palace was as galvanizing as the fables have in the past years, gone to town with. It was an overwhelming setting with literary heavyweights intermingling with their estranged silver spoons (the Muggles call them, readers).Picturesque setting at the festival.
In a ‘La La Land’ of their own, participants could feel the impact of the dreary air receding as the familiar smell of paperback beguiled them. Basing their principal on egalitarian access, in a country where access to certain individuals remains the privilege of a few, the JLF resonated with happiness of the readers, meeting their favorite authors and getting books signed along with a now traditional follow-up–a mandatory selfie.
Alice arrives at Wonderland–the first day
The festival began with Gulzar ‘Pied-Pipering’ the audience using his word wizardry and talking about his new book, which is a translation of nearly 250 poets in nearly 30 languages. Following which Mark Tully engaged the audience in a panel discussion titled ‘The Foreign Correspondents Club’.
With over 32 events covered in over 7 hours on the first day, the peak traffic outside the Diggi Palace emoted itself into submission to the creative zest that brewed inside.
Some of the widely attended events that day included; ‘Eternal Cities’; ‘Encounters and Inspirations’; ‘Of Black Swans and Intellectual Fallacies’; ‘Lady Driver and Murder’; ‘Madness’ and the ‘Oxford English Dictionary’.
Baahubali? Baahubali!–the second day
Breathing into life the words dripped with anguish, love and despair, the second day resounded with poetical moments and a deeper dive into the past. Authors and historians discussed contemporaneous literature with certain domains of medieval literature and rewrote economics from the 1990s.Book signing at the festival.
The most interesting highlight of the day being, how people went into a frenzy when the director SS Rajamouli and Rana Daggubati of Baahubali fame came up to the stage. Crowd-pulling events for the day included ‘Main Shayar toh Nahin’ with Rishi Kapoor, ‘Of Saffron and the Sangha’ and ‘Do Tigers Drink Blood and other Mysteries of Nature’.
Shashi on the dais–the third day
Somehow, in the literary world, readers have almost always imagined paradise to be a kind of library. And by library, they do not necessarily mean one which is filled with books and manuscripts but also envisaging it as a place for ideation, creative thoughts and deliberations to think and live freely.
[su_pullquote align=”right”]Talks like ‘The Kahaani Connection: Story of my Stories’ by Nilesh Mishra and ‘Terribly Tiny Tales and Beyond’ established a good connect with the audience.[/su_pullquote]
Many of the talks on the third day made us realize the gravity of this statement. Talks like ‘The Kahaani Connection: Story of my Stories’ by Nilesh Mishra and ‘Terribly Tiny Tales and Beyond’ were some of the ones, that established a good connect with the audience. Unfailingly, Shashi Tharoor yet again defended India’s opinion on the legacy of the British and the dishonorable East India Company when the topic was brought up for discussion. The day ended with satisfied faces smiling all the way back to reality.
One quote that still resonates in our minds while attaching some emotion to visiting JLF was by Gulzar who said, “What would have happened if I had not written; would it have changed the time I live in? It becomes imperative that you ask yourself what your writing has changed. And to get these answers, you need to look within.” These wordings question the reader as well as the writer in its very own subtle essence. The JLF is supposed to conclude on 23 January and is expecting celebrated personalities such as Javed Akhtar, Sudhir Mishra and Imtiaz Ali for the coming two days.
Featured image credits: Devraj Niwas
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