Snake race visuals on flat screens near the stage. Writer Vikram Seth on stage talking of his first book and previous one. Actor Mammootty in pin stripes and dark glasses.
As The Week Hay Festival began in Kerala, Peter Florence, the founding director of the mother brand in the UK, seemed to invoke writer-activist Arundhati Roy with his short speech on what he wants the festival to do.
“We want writers who are unorthodox. That’s what they are for. We should hear them and not silence them,” he said on Friday, the first day of the festival.
The 23-year-old Hay Festival, which is based in Wales in Britain but has spread its wings in several countries, has come to India for the first time.
“We are hearing Seth and (British writer, historian and art critic) Simon Schama for the first time in Thiruvananthapuram,” said MV Veena, a college student, excited to be part of the festival that ends on Sunday.
Adoor Gopalakrishnan, one of India’s greatest living filmmakers, talked of his experience with actors while shooting for a Vaikom Basheer story. “I never showed them (the actors) my script. I told them ‘forget what you have read. I am doing a different film.’ I would let them do their shots and then redo them.”
Legendary Malayalam writer Basheer died in 1994.
Kerala writer Paul Zacharia, whose stories have attacked religious fundamentalism, spoke about the “power hungriness of the church”, “the need to undercut the majoritarianism of Hinduism”, and the electoral setbacks of the Left in the state.
Charu Nivedita, Tamil writer of Zero Degree who Malayalees have claimed as their own, mounted an attack on his state’s politics.
“I find myself with (AIADMK chief) Jayalalitha in daring to call (CM) Karunanidhi Karunanidhi and not Kalaignar (artist), in a state which considers (actor) Kamal Hasan a thinker and (filmmaker) Mani Ratnam a social scientist.”