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» » Jaipur Literature Festival 2011-- DAY-1

Jaipur Literature Festival 2011-- DAY-1

Post by: Sonia Safri


Thankfully I was scheduled to attend all the events held at the Mughal Tent. Given the fact that I was proudly flaunting and parading in my knee-length boots, the situation saved me the trouble of running from one venue to another. But towards the end of the day as the crowd multiplied four folds, I was lucky even to be able to attend the sessions.


Kuch Sheher, Kuch Ped, Kuch Nazmon ka Khayaal (On Writing Poems)

The first session of Mughal Tent saw Neeta Gupta (publisher at Yatra Books) introduce iconic poet, lyricist and film director Gulzar in conversation with writer and diplomat Pavan Varma.
Gulzar ji read few of his selected poems in Hindi with Pavan Varma meticulously translating them to English.
Amidst a lot of mirth and laughter, we saw the Gulzar’s astounding creative thought process and Pavan Varma’s in depth understanding and precise interpretation, gathering appreciation and praise from the audience as well as Gulzar himself. Pavan Varma wittingly admitted “If the original is so brilliant, the copy can’t be that bad.”
Hearing such rousing piece of work filled our hearts with gratitude and a lot more love and respect for our National language. Gulzar’s legendary and awe inspiring work undoubtedly makes him one of the most coveted and admired personalities of the country.



WoodFinger: A Modern Folktale

The second session saw the handsome Rana Dasgupta talk about the wisdom of folktales and their significance today. while in conversation with Tishani Doshi, the duo read out Rana Dasgupta’s folktale adapted from an old Indian story. It was a pretty light session with the duo reading the entire short story “WoodFinger”.







Two Nations, Two Narratives

As the day progressed and the temperatures soared, the sessions too got intense. Urvashi Butalia, (writer, feminist and director of the independent publishing house- Zubaan) introduced Muneeza Shamsie and her daughter Kamila Shamsie.

Muneeza reflected upon the interpretation of the works of Attiya Hossein (her aunt) and Kamila. The discussion was profound and deep, touching the lives of the renowned members of this literary family and their thoughts.



Urdu Zubaan – An endangered legacy
Neeta Gupta introduced noted poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar who spoke about the history, politics and lyrical resilience of the Urdu language giving the discourse a very personal touch. He started on a very light note but made plausible remarks on how people perceive a language to be associated to a certain religious group.
Zubaan kisi mazhab ki nahi hoti, woh sirf ilaake ki hoti hai.” (Language doesn’t belong to a religion. It only belongs to a place.)

His emphasis on the fact that Urdu, as a language, appreciated by most but hardly adopted was received unanimously by all. He narrated many funny anecdotes and incidents to put forth his points of concern for the language and its decreasing usage.
The session was an eye-opener. The Mughal Tent was house-full with fans and eager audience who sat smitten by Javedji’s oration. Not to forget the hundreds who did not mind standing outside the tent to hear him speak.





Keeping up with the pace and mood set by Javed Akhtar’s talk, Sonia Faleiro got conversing with Dominican-American Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Diaz as he spoke about stories, dreams and Afro-Latino narrative in a multiracial society.
Junot quirky sense of humor found him new fans amongst the highly motivated audience that shot a volley of questions as soon as the panel was open for the audience. He seemed to steal the show and emerge hero for the day with his absolutely delightful and heartfelt thoughts.


Antardhwani: Freedom and Conscience
The last session for the day at Mughal Tent comprised Hindi poetry readings by Ali Sethi, Giriraj Kiradoo, Jatin Das, Mangalesh Dabral, Meena Kandasamy, Nirupama Dutt, Priya Sarukkai Chabria, Renee Ranchan and Sheen Kaaf Nizam mesmerizing the audience with their stupendous creations.

The first day laid the foundation of the Jaipur Lit Fest. With such strong back-to-back events lined up, with prominent personalities of the literary world, we were eager to attend the line-up for the days to come.

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