The annual Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) is today the biggest literary event in Asia-Pacific. In the recent past also, the high-stature event has been marked with the presence of notable personalities, in the field of art and literature. This unfortunately is not where JLF’s success is surefooted.
The annual fest is every year routed through an exaggerated ride of controversies. It is trying and draining, which clearly overshadows the effort put behind by the team, says the Managing Director of Teamwork Productions, the organizer of the event.
“Controversy takes over everything. Some of the biggest minds are coming at JLF. There is Steve McCurry, there is Margaret Atwood. While a recent statement by Karan Johar on sexuality, where he just implied that you have to fight to share your view in India till the law is changed, was highlighted in context of the event. It was blown out of proportion, even going back to days of Desh Drohi and kind of stuff. Instead, why aren’t we reporting on what the visiting delegates have to say? These people have so many incredible ideas to share. Will they be coming back to India, maybe not,” says Roy.
Controversies like Salman Rushdie’s visit to India, and serious reports emerging about him being the target for an assassination was a concern. In all matter of probability, it should be duly and responsibility highlighted in the media. On the contrary, associating JLF-with prevailing issues of award wapsi, is inappropriate of the ‘Make-in-India’ sentiment. After all, where else do we see the likes of Margaret Atwood, Steve McCurry, Marlon James, Christina Lamb and many more, for concurrence on the subject of art?
Roy echoes this view with his comments that “the only question I was asked before the festival by the local press was award wapsi wale kab aa rahen hain aur appka kya view hain. We don’t invite them on the basis of award wapsi or not award wapsi or if they have got an award. We invite them because of the quality of the work they have done.”
According to historian, author and festival director William Dalrymple if the press corps is of 750, only 10 are literary journalist. “Essentially, this means you have 740 reporters waiting for a story and if you are not interested in literature, they have to invent one. Most controversies are cooked up,” says Dalrymple.
The fact that the Jaipur Literature Festival is the greatest art show on earth should strike a patriotic chord with masses. Celebrate the spirit of art and festival with some of the best regarded and loved names ranging from Nobel Laureates and Man Booker Prize winners to star debuts including Amish Tripathi, Eleanor Catton, Hanif Kureishi, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Ian McEwan, JM Coetzee, Mohammed Hanif, Oprah Winfrey, Orhan Pamuk, Pico Iyer, Salman Rushdie, Vikram Seth and Wole Soyinka, as well as renowned Indian language writers such as Girish Karnad, Mahasweta Devi, MT Vasudevan Nair, Uday Prakash and UR Ananthamurthy.
Also read by the author in Economic Times | Controversies at Jaipur Lit Fest are trying & draining: Sanjoy Roy