The Khushwant Singh Litfest is back | punjab$htcity | Hindustan Times
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The Khushwant Singh Litfest is back

Dedicated to the girl child, the military, heritage and the fragile ecology of Kasauli, the fourth edition of the Khushwant Singh Litfest is back again and how! The literature festival, which will be on from October 9 to 11, attempts to capture and celebrate the interests of an extraordinary man who died last year in March aged 99. For a man who wrote every single day of his life for nearly 70 years, he deserves a celebration that encompasses his life and times.

punjab Updated: Oct 07, 2015 23:13 IST
Aneesha Bedi
The literature festival, which will be on from October 9 to 11, attempts to capture and celebrate the interests of an extraordinary man who died last year in March aged 99. (Hindustan Times)

Dedicated to the girl child, the military, heritage and the fragile ecology of Kasauli, the fourth edition of the Khushwant Singh Litfest is back again and how! The literature festival, which will be on from October 9 to 11, attempts to capture and celebrate the interests of an extraordinary man who died last year in March aged 99. For a man who wrote every single day of his life for nearly 70 years, he deserves a celebration that encompasses his life and times.

Himalayan thought

The first ever literary fest to be held in a cantonment, the event has not only brought Kasauli and the region on the literary map but helped the fest to evolve into a vibrant arena of challenging ideas and discussions. Or as his son Rahul Singh says, “Dad always said… ‘Work is worship but worship is not work’.” In Chandigarh with the co-founder Niloufer Billimoria on Tuesday to share the festival schedule, Singh said he was grateful to Brig Anand and his wife who simply offered the Kasauli Club to hold the fest four years back. “But it was the sense of history in Kasauli that we felt people ought to know of that motivated us to actually start this festival and we felt October was just the right time, given the weather and timing of the Sanawar founder’s day or Kasauli week,” said Niloufer. Rahul Singh is proud that the fest that only attracted literature lovers from the region, has become well-known in other parts of the country with fans visiting from Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai and Pakistan as well.

There will be a session on two of Khushwant Singh’s books followed by a short three-minute film (which will be showcased for the first time) on the ‘Sardarji’ himself.

What to watch out for

This may just be the most exciting line-up in the four years of the festival. Scottish writer and historian William Dalrymple speak on the topic ‘The Return of a King: An Indian Army in Afghanistan’. A major attraction will be a session on Bhisham Sahni, the creator of Tamas, the National Award-winning film on Partition, which will be conducted by his daughter Kalpana Sahni, director Govind Nihalani and actor Om Puri.The sprit behind 100 great Indian artists will be Chandigarh’s BN Goswamy’s tribute to KS. His contemporaries and friends like Ismat Chugtai, Bhisham Sahni and Chetan Anand will also be revisited and so will WB Yeats and Rudyard Kipling. The journey of the Mughal conquest of India across three centuries will be unfolded courtesy Alex Rutherford.

Not to forget that the Kasauli literary festival is incomplete without friends from across the border. This year is no different. With former US ambassador Syed Abida Hussain, former foreign minister Khurshid Kasauri, parliamentarian Fakir Aijazuddin, the Pakistan contingent will be present in full force.

A first at the fest

More importantly, this is the first time that the KSLF will witness poetic philosophy in Urdu symbolising KS’s words ‘Poetry, Love, Longing, Urdu’, which will most likely be moderated by none other than lyricist Javed Akhtar.

The Punjabi connection

Highlights of five centuries of timeless wisdom (Nanak, The Poet Guru, Five Centuries on) will unfold with Bobby Bedi, Kamla Kapoor and Navtej Sarna.

Women issues take centre stage

Women continue to hold centre stage at KSLF, be it rape, honour killings, Sikh and non-Sikh marriages, or even a serious job of parenting in the times of the Kardashians. These sessions will be unravelled by Santosh Desai and Shunali Shroff and actor Ranvir Shorey.

GOLDEN MEMORIES

1. My father was a strict man. He always ensured that we got home on time but there was no discrepancy in the timings for my sister and me.

2. He was a very scared person and listened to ‘kirtan’ every night but at the same time was against rituals and stereotypes.

3. He was reading the ‘Resourceful Fakirs: 50 Years of Sikh Rule in Lahore’ when he passed away.

4. When a team from BBC reached his Kasauli house half an hour post the scheduled time to shoot a detailed programme on him, KS refused to sit for the interview and asked Rahul to convey the message to the team members. “My dad was very punctual and ensured that people around him were punctual too,” laughed Rahul.

5. Mrs Manmohan Singh was invited for the book release of one of his books. Having made it clear that no one could drink in her presence, KS was straightforward and requested the lady to leave soon so that everyone could enjoy some liquor.

CATCH IT LIVE

WHAT: Khushwant Singh Litfest

WHEN: October 9 to 11

WHERE: The Kasauli Club, Kasauli

TIMINGS: 2pm onwards (October 9)

9am onwards (October 10 and 11)

For more information and a full deatiled schedule of all sessions and speakers at the festival, visit www.kslitfest.com