JLF start hone wala hai, have you registered ? One more time, one more year , same conversations, different speakers, varied faces, same unwavering energy – another edition of Jaipur Literature Festival, draws to a close.
What started on 25th January (Day 1) at Jaipur’s Hotel Diggi Palace, with loud drums, folk dancers dancing ecstatically, the new colorful decor theme of Rajasthan’s window with tassels and peacocks, and a warm welcome by the founders and organisers of the most gigantic literature festival in the world – Jaipur Literature Festival 2018 finished its 5 day stint today and it felt like a beautiful yet hectic winter break.
Let’s quickly rewind-
Day 1– Though the CM of Rajasthan, who was supposed to inaugurate the literary extravaganza, gave it a miss, the festival of words kept going with thousands of people in this mini university. The Canadian poet, artist, illustrator and performer of Punjabi descent, rupi kaur, managed to leave hundreds of people awestruck by her poetry during the session “milk and honey” at JLF. It was rather a very proud moment to find out that we, the people at Jaipur Literature Festival had the fortune of catching her first ever live performance held in India. She also read excerpts from her book “the sun and her flowers” and touched the hearts of each and every member of the audience just using her words. She left with a promise of coming back to the Jaipur Literature Festival another year, and we are definitely looking forward to it.
Day 2 of Zee JLF which fell on 26th January and was bound to get flooded by the crowd from not just Jaipur but all across the South Asia and beyond.
The king of imagination and valour of Indian cinema and music – Film Director Vishal Bhardwaj warmed a chilly morning with his intense insights on his films, Shakespeare, life and his father in a session called ‘Revolutionary Poets: On Hamlet, Haider and Shakespeare’s Ability to Speak Truth to Power’. While he talked about the hidden philosophies in the most powerful & mysterious clips of his favourite film ‘Haider’, the highlight of the session was his rendition of Chod Aaye Hum Woh Galiyan as requested by a passionate fan in the crowd.
Before the session of Swachh Bharat was held, its impact could already be seen sheathing the festival from all sides. Starting from the murals across the road at the venue to the paper glasses sloganed with ‘Clean India Green India’, the effect of clean Jaipur campaign echoed in its benign power, without even its signature song alarming your ears.
Another empowering & genuine session for the day was Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s Manto : The Man and the Legend, where actor & director Nandita Das talked about her upcoming biopic on Saadat Hasan Manto – a writer celebrated for his stories on India’s partition, casting Nawazuddin as the protagonist.
However, it will be an understatement to say that on Republic Day at JLF, there was freedom to speech, food, fashion, conversations, but the only freedom that took a beating was the freedom to breathe. Given all the cleanliness and a well-organised event, the crowd was beyond control and post afternoon, there was no place to move and glide between any two halls.
Day 3 of the festival saw a refreshing woman’s world at JLF where not only Helen Fielding talked about her much famous Bridget Jones’ Diaries, but there were other sessions like ‘Girls are Coming Out of the Woods‘ and ‘The Politics & Poetics of Women’s Work In India’s Northeast‘ which made their voice strong and clear and were also received with plenty of questions.
Highlight of the day – The session called Lok Bhasha : The Oxford Dictionaries’ Hindi Word of the Year declared Oxford’s Hindi word of the year, and guess what it is ? The one which is easier said than done – both literally and figuratively – Aadhaar 😀
Day 4 being a Sunday looked slightly spacious & lovely during the morning hours when some of the leading economists, entrepreneurs and novelists came together to discuss the New Wealth Of Nations and talked about the impact and place that education now holds in the current wealth status & GDP of the nations, and what it means and lacks in developing countries like India.
In a literary celebration of lyric poetry moderated by Poonam Saxena, at Chalo Ek Baar Phir Se, film actor Vani Tripathi Tikoo & Indian poet & editor – Yatindra Mishra, went down the memory lanes to talk about the time when poetry aka shayari was an indispensable part of lyrics & music in Hindi cinema. Midst the impromptu humming of an old song lyrics like ‘Aap ki aankhon mein kuch’, the duo shared a light moment while remembering Lata Ji’s reaction to the words Aapki Badhmaashiyo ke yeh naye andaaz hai and how there was more poetry and less explicitness in the songs written during their era.
In some more interesting sessions like Words Are All We Have, the Indian writer Leila Slimani ,a Franco-Moroccan writer and journalist, talked about the image of a female writer in people’s minds and the difficulties faced by not just a writer but also a writer’s companions.
The last and final innings of Jaipur Literature Festival 2018 had to be an exciting one. There was an aura of peace and closure seen on the faces of people as they had made the most of this festival in every way. Though people were as eager to have another cup of Diggipuri chai and Chulha ki roti with spicy aloo sabzi as they were to inhale some more wisdom before they could depart for another year.
Tripti Pandey – an author & the tourism and culture consultant in Jaipur talked about her latest book India’s Elephants: A Cultural Legacy, eponymous to the name of the session, and once again reinstated our belief in our culture & legacy.
Like it’s said, all is well that ends well, but when it comes to literature, cinema or poetry, the end is something which should be the most powerful and hard hitting. A similar event could be seen at the Closing Debate at JLF – #MeToo : Do Men Still Have It Too Easy which was indeed an intense debate with the topic being the most rhetoric form of a social upheaval existing in India right now. But a serious topic never demands a serious explanation, and this was proved by Bee Rowlatt & Sandip Roy while pouring their minds and hearts out, and we needn’t mention which side of the debate they were on 🙂