Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, October 9
Though the literati is divided on this one, but journalist and writer Rahul Singh does not feel literary festivals sprouting in every nook and corners of the country in any way dilute the significance of literature or books in any manner.
“The more the merrier. That only means more and more books are being promoted, literature is being celebrated and that is a good thing,” he shares, also a trustee of the Khushwant Singh Foundation, while filling us in on the upcoming eighth edition of the Khushwant Singh Literary Festival.
To be held, like each year at Kasauli, the festival last year, apart from being held in Kasauli, also tested waters outside the country, at the prestigious King’s College, London, the response to which was good. Which is why, “This year also we’ll have a two-day festival there on the last two days of March. My father passed out from there, hence the venue.” Among several things that the late author was renowned and continues to be venerated for, is his sincerity towards Indo-Pak peace process. While that may be a far-fetched thought under the changed circumstances, the festival this year is dedicated to the Indian soldier. “And education of the girl child, which is why the theme is Of Saints and Sinners,” adds Rahul Singh.
A little disheartening as it may sound to the literary scenario in the country, but apart from Jaipur Literature Festival, “Khushwant Singh Literature Festival is the only lit-fest to be held consecutively for eight years.”
The more number of editions, however, does not make things easier with each passing year. “In fact, it becomes difficult to maintain things, but more than that, to raise funds.”
Celeb spotting at Kasauli
Before we get to the impressive line-up of celebrity sessions, there is one on an incident that even 100 years after continues to stir every Indian with a discomforting nagging feeling.
In the session Punjab at the time of Jallianwala Bagh, author and Editor, The Tribune, Rajesh Ramachandran will talk about his book, Martyrdom to Freedom: 100 Years of Jallianwala Bagh. Joining him will be author Navtej Sarna, who’ll also give a Jallianwala Bagh backgrounder based on his forthcoming book.
In the meanwhile, Sharmila Tagore is scheduled to talk about her life in Bollywood, while a day later Manisha Koirala will talk of her battle with cancer, among other things, Shabana Azmi will reminisce on her late father Kaifi Azmi, while Javed Akhtar will take on ‘Godmen’. “We have Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s 550th Parkash Utsav coming up, then we’ve had 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, 100 years since Jallianwala Bagh massacre took place, 100th birth anniversary of Kaifi Azmi,” Rahul Singh takes us through the several milestone occasions of national significance.
It’s time to mark each and every one of these with literary dissection. Among the other highlights of the festival will be ‘Kashmir’ (very much in news lately), which will be debated, dissected even as Nayantara Sahgal will discuss her latest book while addressing the Liberalism versus Illiberalism.
Ask Rahul Singh about the possibilities for the tenth edition and he is taking one festival at a time. May be an additional feature, a newer venue, even bigger line up! “You have put that thought into my mind. I haven’t given it a thought yet. But this festival is all the work of the volunteers.”
On October 11, 12 & 13 at Kasauli Club, Himachal Pradesh.
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