Bengaluru: The roads leading to the Jayamahal Palace Hotel were completely jammed on Friday afternoon and it had nothing to do with the evening’s Guns n’ Roses concert. The Bangalore Literature festival, which was inaugurated on Friday, saw a crowd of almost 3,000 people turn up at the venue. And history was made, as the festival is the first of its kind to be held in the city.
Bengaluru's very own literature festival took a long time coming - that was the prevailing opinion of the day. Better late than never, though. Shashi Deshpande, U R Ananthamurthy, Nissar Ahmed and Gulzar inaugurated the festival, which began with the launch of Beantown, the BLF quarterly.
These are dark days for India, with freedom of expression becoming increasingly curbed, despite the innumerable platforms available to us; the recent facebook arrests only served to open people's eyes to just how many restrictions exist today, said U R Ananthamurthy. "Literature should be free, we're hear news about corrupt politicians everyday, so there should be some space for literature, too," the Jnanpith award winner said.
Gulzar and author Pavan Varma came together in a session titled "Have you seen the soul?" The Craft of Poetry. The dialogue between the two old friends was filled with warmth and reminiscences, as they discussed Gulzar's anthology of poetry – Selected Poems and Neglected Poems.
The poems, which have been translated from Gulzar's evocative use of Hindi into spoken English by Varma, formed the focus of their discussion, the hurdles of translation, the challenge of retaining a philosophy that is simply more beautiful in one language than it is in the other. This intellectual banter was interspersed with memories like sitting down together for a drink in the evening.
"Crossfire with Chetan Bhagat actually drew a big crowd, there were lots of young people in the audience asking him questions," said Vikram Sampath, convenor of the Litfest. The evening ended with Strings Attached, a performance by Dr Jayanthi Kumaresh on the veena and Vidwan R Kumaresh on violin. "The evening is nearly over and there are still people milling about, so I'd say it's been a huge succces," said Sampath happily, as the day wound to a close.