Source : DNA
Novelist and playwright Tom Stoppard, poet-novelist Michael Ondaatje, novelist and screenwriters Helen Fielding and Anthony Horowitz, essayist Pico Iyer, journalist Peter Berger, politician and former President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai, and no less than 21 Harvard professors – this partial, but powerful, list of attendees for the 11th edition of the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival had the full house at Mumbai’s renovated Royal Opera House abuzz on a Thursday evening.
This edition of the ZEE JLF, featuring a who’s who of the world of letters and ideas, will be held between January 25 and 29.
Announced over nostalgic banter between festival co-directors Sanjoy K Roy, writer-publisher Namita Gokhale, author William Dalrymple, the appeal of an eclectic attendance, which will also see Javed Akhtar, Kiran Nagarkar, Anurag Kashyap and Shabana Azmi, was only briefly the focus of the evening, which proceeded to revisit the history and evolution of the festival, frequently referred to as the “world’s biggest literature festival”.
“Cultural philanthropy will be a focus for us at ZEE going forward as we recognize the need for public-private participation to revive and propagate art,” said Shreyasi Goenka, Content Adviser at DNA, in her brief address at the event. She announced the opening of The Sculpture Park at Madhavendra Palace, Nahargarh Fort in Jaipur. This will be India’s first ever dedicated space for public contemporary art and will be inaugurated on December 10.
Goenka is spearheading ZEE’s association with Jaipur Litfest. With 23 of India’s 24 languages already represented over the years – with an agreement that Bodo must be included soon – this year’s instalment will showcase a 10,000-seater venue, exclusive delegate and youth arenas.
There will also be a special session on The Beatles to commemorate the 50th year of the legendary band members’ visit to Rishikesh, where they studied under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
“This is the place where the greatest minds of the world are available to you for free – it’s like a mini-university!” said Dalrymple, while Gokhale mused over the range of the intersectional, multilingual, public art forum where “the jholawallahs and the socialites, the authors and the politicians, can all meet and exchange ideas”.
Dalrymple concluded the evening with a reading of his book ‘The White Mughals’, interspersed with ghazals and Deccani poetry performed by vocalist Vidya Shah.