FYI – ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival took place between 21st January & 25th January, 2015 at Diggy Palace, Jaipur, Rajasthan ,India.
I had decided to pay a visit to Jaipur Literature Festival the day its dates were declared online in early 2015. For past two years, I wanted to be at this place to enjoy the beauty and serenity of the humongous Diggy Palace located in the Pink City. I wanted to be among the writers, thinkers with intellectual acuity. I wanted to listen to their thoughts and see if I stand among them or if legends are just a faff. I wanted to rate them on a scale. I wanted to look into their minds and know if such people exist. I wanted to know why writers write, why singers sing, why journalists try to be candid, and why audience has so interest in them. I wanted to know more about the audience at such events. I wanted to see whether it is just a festival where every attendee is served scotch and beer at night or more than that. I wanted to see if the audience is a group of some wannabes or they really carry the ability to discern, and to be perspicacious.
A New “Jaipur Art Festival” keeping the existing “Jaipur Literature Festival”.
I spent one complete day from 9 AM in the morning to 8 PM in the night at Diggy Palace, and two half days; afternoon sessions on Friday and morning sessions on Sunday. We left the place after 2 o’clock on Sunday because Sonam Kapoor was going to pay a visit at Diggi Palace and the crowd was going berserk. Well, only on two occasions did I notice a big crowd at the palace, one when Dr APJ Abdul Kalam was about to visit the Front Lawns and the other when Sonam Kapoor was coming to the same stage for the launch of a book written by Anupam Kher. I attended the APJ Abdul Kalam session, but couldn’t convince myself to stay any longer when I realized a Bollywood celebrity is coming to a literature festival. Perhaps, the organizers can think of starting a new “Jaipur Art Festival” and keep the old “Jaipur Literature Festival” untouched of those speakers who have not written books. There are more reasons why I want a separate Jaipur Art Festival to be organized next year. Music is not literature. Cinema is not literature. Journalism is not literature. Painting is not literature. But all of these are a form of art. So, we need to have a Jaipur Art Festival with significance given to all forms of art and creativity. There can be people discussing over the controversial paintings of M.F. Hussain. There can be cartoonists, social workers, and journalists discussing over freedom of speech and the right to offend. I would love to attend such a festival.
But let’s also keep the Jaipur Literature Festival where two writers who live in different parts of the world, happen to write books with countable similarities, discuss over the same on a big stage in front a rapt audience, where a writer explains his reasons for writing a particular book, where 3 different writers discuss their unique muses for writing a book, where poets discuss over the many ways of interpreting a poem. Literature is magnanimous and there is always something or other thing to be discussed and debated on. I always want to see if writers perform meditation or if each one of them smoke. Perhaps, they can have a session over it next time. There can always be book readings, and poetry sessions. Writers discussing their upcoming books, or a famous literary classic like Lolita can be dream come true for an enthusiast like me. There can also be discussions on the personalities of great writers of past or great but relatively unpopular writers. A discussion on Love between Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, Naseem Nicolas Taleb, Shashi Tharoor, and Jeet Thayil would be great amusement. But there were lesser such discussions in the current edition of JLF. Most writers were assigned topics of discussion as per their favorite genres or as per their earlier works.
After the last speaker session on Saturday, I stayed at the Diggy Palace and saw a convergence of Rajasthani Musicians and a local Hindi singer. I don’t know the name of the singer but the fusion was amazing. One of the local dancers in proper folk dress, danced to their tunes. The moment could open anybody’s senses. But it was not literature, it was art. Hence, a Jaipur Art Festival.
The venue is also a reason why should have a separate art festival. The marvelous chandeliers of the Durbar Hall can be a muse to any artist. The green Front Lawns, the great Rajputana architecture, and the mystic, undefinable, unrecognizable creatures of art outside the Durbar Hall can be a perfect inspiration to an artist. The serenity and tranquility of the palace can make any writer use his pen at the moment. Or can make any musician go Chaiyyan Chaiyyan!
Why no local JLF newsletter or magazine?
Also, I may be wrong but there was no local magazine or newsletter published within JLF describing, mocking, and celebrating the heaps of comments made by all the speakers present at 5 day long festival. I believe one such newsletter on the behalf of organizers would make the festival more interesting.