Lit fest to offer packed weekend with mixed fare : The Tribune India

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Lit fest to offer packed weekend with mixed fare

Shimla is holding its first full-fledged Literature Festival at the Gaiety Theatre, The Ridge, Shimla, from June 23-June 24.

Lit fest to offer packed weekend with mixed fare


Shailaja Khanna

Shimla is holding its first full-fledged Literature Festival at the Gaiety Theatre, The Ridge, Shimla, from June 23-June 24. Amazingly, there has never been a literature festival in Shimla before, despite it being the Summer Capital of the British, and thereafter, of undivided Punjab, and later, the capital of Himachal Pradesh. This should not be taken to imply that Shimla has not had its share of both authors and readers; it has also been the subject of several books on it from the first authoritative book by Sir Edward John Buck, “Simla Past and Present”, originally published in 1904, which even today is worth a read.

Nearby Kasauli, with its Khushwant Singh Literature Festival, has been holding successful literature festivals for several years now; they even had a London edition of the festival this year in May.

The festival which is supported by Shimla’s Department of Language Art and Culture is being run by a Noida- based company, Vibhor Festival Trust that successfully held a literature festival in Noida last year. The logistics are being handled through an event-managing concern called Across the Road Advertising and Events.  Swati Sharma, Managing Trustee of Vibhor Festival Trust shared “the festival is slated to take place every year from now onwards, and with each edition it will grow bigger”.

The activities are ambitious – 24 events in two days. Apart from literary events, the festival will also offer a Bharatanatyam recital by Arupa Lahiry, two morning vocal music sessions by local Himachali artists, and poetry-recitation sessions by Kaafia and Rudabha and even a session on “Dastangoi” the dying Persian art of storytelling.

The speakers connected with Shimla include Shimla- based author Raaja Bhasin, who has written several books on Shimla. Shimla-linked author Janhavi Prasada’s best- selling graphic novel on a young Gandhiji (“Tales of Young Gandhi”) is particularly relevant as we approach 2019, the 150th year of Gandhiji’s birth. Janhavi was excited about discussing her book in her mother’s home town, Shimla (Kanta Prasada was born and brought up in Shimla, being the daughter of the well known late Justice Thakur Chet Ram).

Interesting interactive sessions to look out for include an interaction with Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Shri Ram Thakur by Sanjeev Paliwal, Editor of Aaj Tak.  Another discussion bound to generate sparks is between Shashi Shekhar, Chief Editor of Hindustan, in conversation with Anant Vijay, Editor of Dainik Jagran. Chandigarh DG Police Tejinder Luthra, also a poet, will share his vision; Pankaj Dubey, whose short film was recently screened in Cannes, will talk about his work.

Other celebrity speakers include Rajdeep Sardesai, one of India’s best known political analysts, will talk about his book “Democracy X1 – The Great Indian Cricket Story”, an analysis on cricket in India. 

Simultaneously held sessions in two venues, the iconic Gaiety Theatre and the open-air amphitheatre outside will ensure that one will not get bored and wander away. There will be talks, workshops, book readings, panel discussions, and book launches.

The theme of the festival is “One India”. This is being focused on through our different languages – the festival will include discussions in Hindi, Urdu, Himachali, English and Punjabi to highlight how expression of thought can be seamless in different languages.

Another innovative idea, entitled “I am Author” will provide a platform at this festival for would be authors in a small town like Shimla or even from the interiors of Himachal, where opportunities and exposure are limited.  A publishing house has been roped in, to provide publishing opportunities. 

As many as 350 schoolchildren from local Shimla schools will be participating in the festival, and attending sessions on storytelling. All in all, Shimla-ites can look forward to a packed weekend with mixed fare on offer. 

‘One India’

The theme of the festival is “One India”. This is being focused on through our different languages – the festival will include discussions in Hindi, Urdu, Himachali, English and Punjabi to highlight how expression of thought can be seamless in different languages.

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