Five days of literature. The most read authors and poets. The most fascinating discussions. Indian literature’s mammoth mela, the Jaipur Literature Festival, is never short of excitement. The festival, which will run from January 19 to January 23 this year, creates a problem of plenty for its eager visitors: there is too much to do, too many authors to hear, too many discussions to attend.
So before you make your must-attend-at-JLF lists, take a look at what authors, poets and other participants are looking forward to the most this year.
Sanjoy K Roy, managing director, Teamwork Arts
Sanjoy K Roy is one of the key people who make sure that the mega-production that is the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) goes off without a hitch -- a few controversies notwithstanding.
For him, the JLF is an education, a boon and about the dissemination and discussion of knowledge; the opportunity to discover new authors and new ideas at the festival each year is just an added bonus. “The sheer passion that the authors exude and the ideas that they share is phenomenal. The best part is that it sometimes catches you completely unawares, with such a diverse line-up and topics at the festivals,” he says.
Literary festivals are many a times regarded as ‘elitist’ events, that may not be easily accessible to the common masses; the JLF has been made available to people free of cost to combat this notion, says Roy.
“I remember this man four years ago who had visited the festival. He told me that he could not afford to buy his kids books, but he had heard that ‘we were telling stories’ at the festival and had brought his child along so he could experience it. This was our goal; to reach as many people as possible. Knowledge can really propel you to another dimension; people should be able to access it no matter their socio-economic background. After all, in India, there is great economic fluidity,” he said.
He recalls another retired educator who travelled from a village almost 40 kms away from Gorakhpur. The teacher went back home and started his own book club, and five years later, brought six members of his club to the festival.
As for the fear that reading habits are on the decline among the younger generation, Roy holds onto hope. “Last year, 61% of our visitors were under the age of 25. If so many young people still read, then there is definitely hope. Even if they take away just one idea, then that is something.”
This year, he is looking forward to the many events planned around the theme of 70 years of India’s Independence, where democracy, war, independence and notions of freedom will be discussed. “There is this whole series on the freedom to dream. I think I will be spoilt for choice, as will others,” he said.
Visitors to the JLF will be able to catch Roy in action on the first day, when he is expected to engage Sadhguru in conversation on ‘Inner Engineering: A Yogi’s Guide to Joy.’ Roy said he has been enjoying Sadhguru’s book and how he puts across his ideas and principles in very simple terms.
“The session will prove to be very interesting, considering that I am not a believer in any sense of the word. But I must say his book removes some of the preconceived notions one might have of a ‘spiritual man,’” he said.
Swanand Kirkire, lyricist & playback singer
This is going to be my very first time at the Jaipur Literature Festival and I’m only too excited about being there! I’ve two sessions: One with the brilliant theatre actor and director Manav Kaul, in which I’ll read out from my book of poetry that was published by Rajkamal Prakashan. In the other, I’ll be in conversation with National chess champion Anuradha Beniwal about her book of travelogues Azaadi Mera Brand. It’ll be an interesting session in that we’ll be talking about individual freedom and the need for women in India to reclaim public spaces.
It’s great that both my sessions are on the first day of the festival, leaving me ample time over the next couple of days that I’ll be there to make the most of other sessions. I’ll also be performing one morning and spend another evening reading poetry at the Amer Fort – which will be a very unique experience. I’m also excited about meeting my film buddies in such a different setting, surrounded by the famous and revered of the literary world. I look forward to interacting with the authors and getting to be a part of their world.
For more coverage of books, authors and sessions from this year’s festival, visit our Jaipur Literature Festival page. Follow @htTweets for full coverage and tweet to us which authors you would like us to interview.