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Is Jaipur Literature Festival just about being cool now?

india Updated: Jan 17, 2014 18:35 IST
Tania Goklany
Tania Goklany
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

The Jaipur Literature Festival has become rather popular - some come here seeking intellectual stimulation and others to chill, socialise and get 'cool-zoned' by friends just by marking their presence.

During a session by authors Jonathan Franzen and Chandrahas Choudhury in the colourful and overcrowded Char Bagh tent, a lady sitting next to me tells her son that "they're talking about novels and how characters are sketched," and gets up to leave as the boy happily 'checks in' on Facebook.

Makes me wonder if they came expecting a "Hasya Kavi Samellan"?

Rajasthan's governor Margaret Alva proudly claimed in her inaugural speech that the JLF is the "Kumbh of literature," little did she know that there are people who are swamped by the panel discussions about the intricacies of literature.

"Democracy isn't just about elections, it's about dialogue," said festival producer Sanjoy Roy.

Only he didn't realise that the poor soul attending Nobel laureate Amartya Sen's session wouldn't care for the dialogue beyond his indulgence on Twitter by creating a buzz with Sen's picture with a hashtag Zee2014JLF.

While the festival is getting bigger each year and boasts about reputed names in its brochure, it is also becoming a commercial behomoth where people come just to hang out without any respect for the actual essence of the festival.

Nonetheless, JLF is a brilliant platform for those who want to assemble, interact and exchange ideas.

There are a few who do go beyond the Twitter hashtags and Facebook updates as they engage with speakers.

A second-year student from Delhi University's Miranda House asked feminist and activist Gloria Steinmen about her take on imperialist feminists in the wake of the recent rapes reported in the country.

The JLF receives the most footfalls as far as literature festivals are concerned in our country. The question, however, remains if it's for its cool quotient or because of stimulating ideas it generates.