Pune is known to be a cultural hub, with the many music, dance and entertainment programs that the city witnesses. We, as Punekars, encourage art in our culture and hence welcomed The Pune International Literary Festival (PILF) with open arms when it was started 3 years ago. With all that goes around, a literary festival was practically the only thing that was missing!
For the last three years, we have had the best and biggest stars of the literary world come and share their stories with us, and it sure has been an amazing experience! This year the PILF took place at Yashada on Baner Road and was at a smaller venue as compared to last year’s MIT College, but seemed to serve the purpose nonetheless. The event organizers decided to go with the alfresco theme this time around, probably owing to the lack of rains and pitched ‘Reading Tents’ in the small garden area inside the venue. The rest however, took place inside in the auditoriums.
The festival boasted of big names, as usual, and did not disappoint on the quality. The most talked about event, hands down, was Shashi Tharoor’s talk, with the auditorium overflowing and audiences hanging outside the doors trying to get a glimpse of the man. However, this event should have been handled better by the organizers by hosting the talk in a larger room. In spite of the inconvenience, Tharoor was as enchanting as ever, and soon made us forget that we were standing in the aisle being slowly crushed by a 100 other audience members behind us. He was in conversation with Sunil Sethi, the host of NDTV’s ‘Just Books’ show. Sethi and Tharoor have been friends since their college days in St. Stephens, and went on to share some funny and interesting anecdotes from their youth. Sethi very masterfully managed to show us a rare side of Tharoor – the formative years that led to him becoming not only a great author but an even greater orator. They spoke of various other things including his new book, “ cafe rencontre celibataire paris India Shastra: Reflections on the Nation in our Time”. As expected, after just a short hour, Tharoor left the auditorium leaving the audience quite entranced.
The rest of the festival went along just as well, with the main attraction – The Agatha Christie Exhibit, commemorating the 125th anniversary of the Queen of Mystery. The exhibit had displays of her work and her life history, along with a short documentary on Christie’s life. The exhibit was supported by the British Library and curated by Rajeev Prabhu, and was quite a treat for any Christie fan. The exhibit also saw a quiz on Agatha Christie and her works, conducted by the British Library.
The literary festival did have something it did not have the last time – two musical performances as a sun-downer. Saturday saw a live performance by India’s first poetry-music band, Mystic. Randhir Khare, Deepak Bhanuse and Majid Aziz, who make up the trio gave a truly soulful performance. Poetry has never before been presented in such a manner, and after Mystic’s performance, we say that it should be performed through music only. The final sun-downer was another beautiful concert of Mohammad Rafi songs presented by the enchanting Iqbal Darbar of the Mohammad Rafi Arts Foundation.
Although the festival started off lukewarm, it picked up towards the end and was quite a success overall. We look forward to a bigger and better event next year.