From Diggi Palace to digital screen: Virtual JLF to kickoff tomorrow

·3-min read

New Delhi, Feb 18 (PTI) The best of literary minds, insightful debates and a gamut of stories are set to enthral bibliophiles across the world for the next 10 days during the digital avatar of Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF), starting Friday.

The JLF, now in its 14th edition, will feature over 300 speakers and performers representing around 25 Indian and 18 international languages and over 23 nationalities.

It will begin with an inaugural keynote address on 'The Art of Innovation' by Sir Ian Blatchford, director and chief executive of the Science Museum Group and Dr Tilly Blyth, head of collections and principal curator, Science Museum, London.

With themes ranging from 'Technology and AI’, 'Politics and History', and 'Environment and Climate Change', to 'Poetry and Music', ‘Food and Literature', and 'Democracy and Constitutions', the festival promises to be both: 'vast and kaleidoscopic'.

'I know for many aspects of the festival lockdown has proved a huge problem. But for my job, which is pulling in mainly international authors, it has been an enormous blessing,' said William Dalrymple, writer, historian and co-director of JLF.

'Because the author who I previously had to persuade to .. give up 10 days or a week of their valuable time and come to India. I now just have to persuade to come for one hour on a zoom call. The extra-ordinary line up, which I think is the strongest that we ever had, reflects that,' he added.

Some of the big names making it to the festival this year include the likes of American linguist Noam Chomsky, 2020 Booker Prize winner Douglas Stuart, Nobel Laureates Joseph Stiglitz and Malala Yousafzai, Microsoft Corporation co-founder Bill Gates, and actor-author Priyanka Chopra.

For those the feel or sense of the beautiful Diggi Palace in Jaipur -- venue of the festival since its inception -- matters as much as 'celebrating the word', the organisers have tried to make the virtual experience as 'immersive' as possible.

'Our effort has really been how to capture the essence of this incredible festival with colours, with gaiety, with music, with great food, with networking. So what we did we shot, we video recorded some sections live in Delhi some weeks ago.

'We also went to Jaipur and we shot all the links for the opening and closing from the Darbar Hall to give people a sense of place of where we began, a sense of their built heritage and the architecture of Rajasthan which has been so key to our festival,' said festival producer Sanjoy K Roy.

Another attraction of the festival, the electrifying Jaipur Music Stage, will showcase a variety of artistes from the national and international spectrum a multi-genre abundance. Some of the renowned musicians performing during the festival are Jack Warnock, Shye Ben Tzur, Anirudh Varma and Dhruv Visvanath.

Other themes that will be explored through the course of the festival will include 'Mental Health', 'Economics', 'Translations', 'Geopolitics', 'Historical Fiction', and 'Travel'. Also, a special session on the COVID-19 pandemic will be one of the major highlights of the edition.

'Every year I am asked 'What's new at the festival?' and I get highly irritated because I never know how to respond. But in this year of disruptions and consequences everything is new .. We bring you a living library or perhaps you could call it a library of life. Do join us for this virtual voyage of discovery beginning tomorrow,' said Namita Gokhale, writer and co-director of JLF.

The Jaipur BookMark (JBM), the B2B platform that runs parallel to the festival, will also return for its 8th edition, and will be held from February 22-25. PTI MG MAH MAH