The bitterness and rancour that dogged Kitab, Mumbai’s one-of-a-kind international literary festival, has now boiled over and threatens to shadow the second edition of the event scheduled to begin here on Friday.
The organisers of the festival have sent to publications a letter of protest in which they allege that Pablo Ganguli — who employed them and was Kitab’s most visible face — owes them lakhs of rupees in salaries and expenses and misled them as well as participants during the inaugural festival in February last year. Kavita Bhanot, Ayesha Siddiqi and Shazia Nizam are no longer associated with this year’s festival, which has a far less glittering list of writers than the one in 2007.
“Ganguli owes us money,” Shazia told HT over the phone. “We want to be paid.” In their letter the trio said: “In emails and draft programmes sent to staff, invitees and potential sponsors, Pablo was misleading about those participating in the festival. This indirectly compromised the integrity of those working on the project, who passed on false information to potential guests and sponsors.”
They also highlight how Ganguli showed a bias towards British guests over Indians.