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January 23, 2015

Zee JLF Diaries: Day 1 and 2

Text by Nittal Chandarana. Images: ZeeJaipur Literature Festival, Jay Shah and Nittal Chandarana

Literature, music, dance and a smattering of culture at the Zee jaipur Literature Festival 2015

Puppets, kadas and mojris lead the way to the illustrious Diggi Palace where all the action takes place. The Jaipur Literature Festival buzzes with activity and tens of thousands of spectators have come to witness a quirkfest: for, can you really separate the event from its ethnic location? In fact, Jaipur is what gives the festival such a strong flavour. Somehow, it takes literature and books from their apparent drab reputation and places them in the midst of a vibrant burst of colour and activity. Its blurb now reads literature and art and culture. There’s a musical event that kicks off each day and waves goodbye to each night of the ZeeJLF. Verve gives you an account of a happy first two days at the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival 2015.

  • Namita Gokhale and William Dalrymple
    Namita Gokhale and William Dalrymple
  • Girish Karnad, Naseeruddin Shah, ZeeJLF2015
    Girish Karnad and Naseeruddin Shah
  • The King and the Corpse
    The King and the Corpse

Day 1: January 21, 2015
School kids, locals and denizens of India are milling around the festival venue. Everyone wants a part of the biggest free literary extravaganza in the world. And why not? How many festivals can boast of 300 eclectic personalities under the same roof (read, tent). You have a mixture of mythology writers Devdutt Pattnaik, Amish Tripathi, cartoonist Mandy Ord, filmmaker Vishal Bharadwaj, Suhel Seth, theatre director Tim Supple to listen to; a treat, to say the least.

We particularly enjoyed the conversation between Naseeruddin Shah and Girish Karnad on the former’s autobiography, And Then One Day. Shah read excerpts from his book and Karnad proceeded to share anecdotes from his life. Quite delightful, Shabana Azmi from the audience ventured to ask Shah about a play they did together wherein he famously did not bathe for 40 days to get into the skin of the character. Azmi cheekily remarked that he was only thinking about himself; something his co-actors had to bear the brunt of. We also managed to catch author Ashwin Sanghi and screenwriter Prasoon Joshi for a quick discussion.

The evening brought with it a musical performance at the Clarks-Amer. The King and the Corpse was an adaption of Vikram and Betal as a narration accompanied with music. Quite a unique version of the story, it wasn’t quite palatable to us, who were brought up listening to a traditional variant of the folktale.

  • Shabana Azmi, Girish Karnad, Ravi Dubey & Sanjoy Roy discuss META’s influence on Indian Theatre during the launch of Coffee table book ‘Curtain Call Celebrating Indian Theatre’ encapsulating ten glorious years of Mahindr
    Shabana Azmi, Girish Karnad, Ravi Dubey and Sanjoy Roy at the META book launch
  • Waheeda Rehman, Nasreen Munni Kabir and Arshia Sattar
    Nasreen Munni Kabir, Waheeda Rehman, and Arshia Sattar
  • Suhel Seth, Vishal Bhardwaj and Tim Supple
    Suhel Seth, Vishal Bhardwaj and Tim Supple

Day 2: January 22, 2015
It had rained! The atmosphere was heavenly what with the dreamy pouring, intelligent conversation and fantastic masala chai. It was a kurta-jhola fan’s dream. We particularly enjoyed cartoonist Mandy Ord’s and writer Annie Zaidi’s talk on their collaboration, Anarkali, a graphic novel on the fictional courtesan. Zaidi always wondered what happened to her; in some versions she dies and some, she plain disappears! It’s also a revelation of sorts to note that the Mughal-e-Azam was indeed fictional. Akbar and Salim existed but Anarkali did not. The META book launched among much fanfare by Shabana Azmi, Girish Karnad, Ravi Dubey and Sanjoy Roy. Another interesting session was ‘Hamlet’s Dilemma’ with Vishal Bharadwaj, Jerry Brotton, Tim Supple, Basharat Peer and moderator Suhel Seth. A talk that brought much insight to the movie and the writing; each speaker was engaging and managed to hold his own throughout, even with the feisty Suhel Seth at the centre. A rebuttal by Tim Supple was especially lauded when he retorted that he’s a theatre director, not a British director to Seth’s jabs at him and his colonial connect to the Bard. We spoke to Mandy Ord and festival founder and director William Dalrymple. (Read William’s notes for the future here.)

Watch this space for more live updates.

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