No Matter how bright the individual literary stars shine, luminous Diggi palace eclipsed them all. Clothed in vivid oranges, pinks and blues, glinting with Rajasthani mirror work, bedecked with little jewels of stalls, festooned in strings of light, and crossed and re-crossed by trails of fashionable, hippy and long booted beautiful people, its no surprise all the litterateurs were digging on Diggi Palace during the 5 days of Jaipur Literature Festival- 2012.
The first day laid the foundation of the Jaipur Literature Festival with so many strong back-to-back events lined up, with prominent personalities of the literary world like Ashok Chakradhar, Gulzar Sahab and Dipti Naval.
Ashok Chakradhar is a man with great sense of Humor. He glorified “Vachik Parampara” and beautifully drawn the connection between literature, love and progress of an individual in the session. He joked at the prevalence of corruption in country by his poem, “Aayo kahan se dhanshyam”. On audience demand he also recited a few lines from his collection of “Jungle Gaatha”.
Gulzar Sahab: Hearing such rousing piece of work filled our hearts with gratitude and a lot more love and respect for our National language. Gulzar’s legendary and awe inspiring work undoubtedly makes him one of the most coveted and admired personalities of the country. The Mughal Tent was house-full with fans and eager audience who sat smitten by Gulzar Sahab’s oration. Not to forget Hindi film director Vishal bharadwaj sitting in the audiance and the hundreds who did not mind standing outside the tent to hear him speak.
The weekend days of Jaipur Literature Festival tends to be the busiest and for these two days’ massive crowd strained at Diggi’s resources, despite the extensive preparations made to accommodate them. The bottleneck between the front lawns and the other venues took an average of 15 minutes to clear between sessions, which averaged out to a minute metre.
Saturday’s session started with Chetan Bhagat in conversation with John Elliot ‘In search of a Story’ inside Mughal Tent. Over criticism on the standard of language of his books he said, “My books are used in tribal areas to teach English, drivers read my books to learn English to get a better job. If that is not literature I am happy not to be literate to ink literature.
Steven Pinker session ‘The better Angels of Our Nature: A decline of violence in History’ introduced by Barkha Dutt, accentuated the fact that violence is ebbing.
Another session of ‘Love Stories’ was in conversation with Namita Gokhle, Pavan Verma, Prasoon Joshi and Gulzar. Some excerpts-
“Sirf ehsaas hai yeh rooh se mehsoos karo, pyaar ko pyaar he rehne do koi naam na do“, ”Sabhi ne zindagi chulhe pe rakhi hai, na pakti hai na jalti hai” lines quoted by Gulzar Sahab and “Taar pe jhulte kapde mera pyaar hai, mera adhikaar hai ya ek dhaaga vivash ka” by Prasoon Joshi at “Love Stories” session were the phenomenal highlights of the day.
The same day, a book on ‘Hadauti- The unexplored Rajasthan’ was launched by Ms. Bina Kak, Minister of Tourism. Unfortunately the author Dharmendra Kanwar was missing.
The Sunday was all about the talk Show Queen Oprah Winfrey in conversation with Barkha Dutt. Ranging, from life to work,India’s culture, women, marriage, Indian traffic, music and books everything was here in the conversation.
With the promise of coming back toIndia, she appreciated the Indian culture where people don’t talk about they live it; kids taking care of their parents. She also spoke on the empowerment of women, specially widows and young girls by educating them. She emphasized on eradicating discrimination against widows. She raised the excitement in audience by saying “you have to speak for yourself, when you’re excellent, people notice. Always be the best even if you’re flipping fries at McDonald’s.”
The rest two days of the festival were calm as all the hullabaloo took place at the first three days with Oprah, Salman’s arrival and a like. We were expecting Salman Rushdie’s video conference on Monday but that too was cancelled due to security issues.
Finally, all’s well that ends well. For the organizers of Jaipur Literature Festival, it hasn’t been easy all these days as they had to manage over 1.22 lakh visitors, besides the hysteria over Salman Rushdie fetish.
Apart from the sessions and narrations at the Diggi Palace, we saw the sort of fashion! That was pedigree in its origin- dreadlocks, fur, pearls, long boots, juttis, shades, colorful bandhinis and bandhgalas- all thrown in, yet intellectual and understated in its treatment.