Sundeep Bhutoria

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Monday, January 23, 2012

The head that fits the crown


With Prasoon Joshi and Gulzar

January 23rd 2012: Today morning I went to the Lit Fest at the Diggi Palace. The session Kahani Kise Kahate Hai started with Gulzar, Javed Akhtar, Prasoon Joshi and Vishal Bharadwaj taking to the stage.
The session started in English. This was a big big disappointment for me. Who on earth would want to hear out Gulzar and Javed speaking in a language other than Hindi or Urdu. During the course of the session, I believe, they understood this fact, and gauging the audience mood, switched on to Hindi and Urdu.
After the session I met up with Suhel Seth (picture) and we had a few rounds of chai and samosas. We discussed about he Jaipur LitFest (JLF) and the forthcoming Calcutta festival.
Few weeks ago in Kolkata, a prominent English daily asked for my views on - Can Calcutta snatch the literary meet crown from Jaipur?
I had said “Yes!”
With film directorVishal Bhardwaj
Indeed, Calcutta can snatch the literary meet crown from Jaipur. The Jaipur Literary Festival is more of a “glamorous mela” than a litfest. It is one great big soulless event with a very high glamour quotient and a picture postcard venue. The Jaipur LitFest is where all well-known authors, celebs, filmstars, politicians and the well-healed want to be.
There is no doubt that the Jaipur Literary Festival is very well managed and attended. But somehow, the soul is missing. This is not just my person feeling. Many local artistes and literatteurs and others share this feeling.
Kolkata is the city where Saraswati – the goddess of music, knowledge and art - resides. It is the Mecca of Indian culture, the very soul of literature and fine arts. Those who participate in the book fairs in Kolkata do not do so because of any glamour or star attraction. They do so because literature flows in their very bloodstream. They have a passion for books.
I am a regular at the Kolkata Book Fair and have also been attending the Jaipur Literary Festival as well. Talking about literature and comparing Kolkata and Jaipur is like comparing a human being and a robot. The common man has no role or place in the Jaipur Literary Festival, where as, Kolkata draws its strength from its common man’s passion for literature. 
The crown fits Kolkata's head naturally. For Jaipur, it is the head that is made to fit the crown.
After the session was over, I met Prasoon, Gulzar Sahab and Vishal Bhardwaj and had tea with Prasoon Joshi (picture).
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