A robust Lit Fest for vibrant Capital

Literary Pursuits

In every possible nook and corner of the Capital a new book is released every other day.

 No doubt the city is culturally active and has a vibrant literature scene too. Yet, when it comes to the city’s literature festival, there is comparatively less excitement and litterateurs prefer travelling outside the city to attend Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF), Mumbai International Literary Festival or Kochi International Book Festival!

When there is no dearth of literati in the city then why doesn’t Delhi have its very own established and successful literature festival? 

One might list Penguin’s literature festival – Spring Fever or India Non-Fiction Festival (organised by Leapvault), but these hardly represent Delhi’s robust literature scene. 

Talking about the Delhi Literature Festival, an initiative of Cinedarbaar, still in its nascent stage, founder-director Supriya Suri says, “We too asked ourselves why Delhi doesn’t have a literature festival of its own. Our team is passionate about art and culture and literature couldn’t be left behind.

 Though we work closely with various departments of Delhi Government and even apply for grants (which cover major expenses) but the venue and sponsors have to be arranged by us. 

So, budget is one of the major challenges.” 

Suri is planning for the third edition of the festival in February and striving to make it better every year. Yet, the festival doesn’t attract authors or literature enthusiasts from across the world to the Capital.

 Suri says it is “unfair” to compare it with JLF prompting Metrolife explore what makes the latter popular? 

“It is the intangible nature of a city that makes any festival magical and successful,” says Sanjoy K Roy, MD of Teamwork Productions and producer of JLF.According to Roy when the festival takes place in Jaipur “attendees commit themselves for a day or two, where they not just become part of the festival, but also go for sight-seeing or indulge in regional cuisine.

But if the same is in Delhi then people would catch one specific session of their choice which might fall between their official meetings. For a city to be a ‘festival city’, every road in it should lead to the festival, which happens in case of Jaipur during JLF.”     

So does is mean that the Capital less equipped by way of infrastructure, will or spirit? But having a ‘literature festival’ and ‘experiencing a successful literature festival’ are two different aspects, given that Delhi is not just a state but also the Capital of India. Therefore, its literature festival should represent the whole country.  

The same is kept in mind by the organisers of ‘Samanvay - IHC Indian Languages Festival’ and can be cited as an example given its rising popularity. “We initially planned to give exposure to different languages of India and were able to do that,” says Satyanand Nirupam, creative director of Samanvay. His team is planning to bring on board poets and authors from neighbouring countries. 

“Because Tamil is spoken in Sri Lanka and Bengali is used in Bangladesh and all these nations have a rich literature of their own. We thought it would be interesting to listen to scholars speak along with their Indian counterparts.”

While Samanvay has managed to attract people from other states to Delhi, the city’s own literature festival still lacks a character that represents not just itself but also international literature.            

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