All you need to know about Jaipur Literature Festival

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The new home of ‘the greatest literary show on Earth,’ Hotel Clarks, Amer in Jaipur, opened with a bright sunny morning. Early risers went to the Front Lawn to listen to the soothing sounds of Morning Music. Morning Music opened the session with a dazzling rendition of Raag Miya Ki Todi by Ujwal Nagar, a Hindustani classical music maestro and led classical singer of Advaita, an Indian fusion band. Nagar began the performance by expressing his delight in participating in the 2022 Jaipur Literature Festival. 

The 15th edition of the Festival of ideas got off to an incredible start. Following Nagar’s thrilling performance, the event featured Keynote Speakers Harish Trivedi, a writer and researcher, Shombi Sharp, the UN Resident Coordinator for India since 2021, and Festival Directors and the Festival Producer.

“We welcome you all to the ongoing Jaipur Literature Festival,” Sanjoy K. Roy, Festival Producer and Managing Director of Teamwork Arts said in his welcoming speech. Last year, we shifted online and reached over 27.5 million people worldwide with our digital series JLF Brave New World, JLF WORDS ARE BRIDGES, and the 2021 Jaipur Literature Festival, which was digital. It’s the first year we’ve done a Festival hybrid; we started on March 5th and will be running until March 14th. So, it’s a ten-day package of unbelievable wealth! Not only are there new additions to the Festival this year, but it also has a new home.” We are ecstatic to be hosting the 15th edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival at Hotel Clarks in Amer.”

“Though I am profoundly honoured to be getting the Sahitya Akademi Award, I am here for the Festival in Jaipur and not in Delhi to receive it since my award is you and this great Festival,” Festival Co-director Namita Gokhale said in her address to the audience. “Coming back to the Festival brings back memories of prior editions of the literary spectacular featuring various writers and their stories,” she added.

“I think the pandemic has been hard for everyone, but the performing arts, in particular, have found it an existential threat… with music, dance, and theatre – have had their lives very very severely threatened by the economics of the lockdown,” said William Dalrymple, author, historian, and Festival Co-Director. But now we’re back, in this great new location, with four Nobel Laureates, as Namita pointed out!”

Keynote Speaker Harish Trivedi remarked regarding the Festival, “The body loses all of its clothing and replaces them with fresh ones. So likewise, all of the spirit’s bodies are shed and replaced with new ones. I’ll also remark that this Festival is shedding an old venue in favour of a new one.”

“I am the luckiest to be here in the original Jaipur version of this great Festival,” Shombi Sharp, UN Resident Coordinator for India from 2021, said at the end of the opening address.

I’ve been greatly struck by the deeply rooted idea and values of sustainability that I find everywhere in Indian culture since arriving in India. Moreover, India’s ambitious goals show the rest of the world that taking action on climate change does not have to mean abandoning development equity.”

Day 1: March 10th, 2022

At the 15th edition of the Festival, a session featured Portuguese politician and author Bruno Maçães, talking about his book Geopolitics for the End Time: From the Pandemic to the Climate Crisis, a sharp study of an emerging world order that is competitive and driven by the need to adapt and survive in increasingly hostile natural environments. In conversation with former diplomat and author Navtej Sarna, Maçães discussed the future of the world’s political landscape.  

Before the session, Mr. Purushottam from the Bank of Baroda said, “Bank of Baroda extends a hearty welcome to one and all present here to witness the confluence of ideas, books, music, art, culture.”  

Award-winning independent data journalist Rukmini S, Ambassador Lakshmi Puri, former Assistant Secretary-General at the United Nations, former Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, and a former diplomat, Rukmini S, and President of MICA, Shailendra Raj Mehta discussed Rukmini’s book Whole Numbers and Half-Truths: What Data Can and Cannot Tell Us About Modern India during a session. Rukmini uses over two decades of on-the-ground reporting in her book to challenge some of India’s most strongly held political and social beliefs, as well as the half-truths that facts and numbers communicate, and to highlight the need for more and better qualitative research. “This isn’t because I believe statistics are lies; rather, I feel that statistics and data are sometimes held to different standards in terms of what they can and can’t do.” “Just as you may lie with words, lie with video, lie with audio, all of which we see around us,” Rukmini stated during the discussion.

Namita Gokhale, a prominent writer and Co-Director of the Jaipur Literature Festival, and the winner of the coveted Sahitya Akademi Award for 2021, spoke about the ambiguities of returning a work of fiction to the language of its physical and emotional place in another session. Jaipur Journals and The Blind Matriarch, two of Gokhale’s most recent and critically praised novels, have been translated into Hindi by eminent literary luminaries. They talked about the intricacies and distances of translation with Rakhshanda Jalil, a distinguished writer, translator, and literary historian. “Different sensations, I felt the blind matriarch,” Gokhale stated when asked about her feelings about reading her books in translation. In English, she sounded credible; she sounded like many elderly women, with their wisdom and folly. But she had a different relationship with the novel in Hindi… More than English, she belonged in Hindi… Shakuntala belonged more in Hindi than in English, and Raag Pahadi belonged more in Hindi than in English.”

Hans Jacob Frydenlund, Norwegian Ambassador to India, Chandrakant Singh, winner of the Vir Chakra, Shaheen Anam, Executive Director of the Manusher Jonno Foundation, and Walter J Linder, German Ambassador to India, spoke at a session on the Front Lawn. They talked about the possibilities of peace in a world split apart. They were speaking with Hannah Ellis-Peterson, a Guardian correspondent. Anam began her speech by emphasising that war is not a paradox. “I don’t believe war is paradoxical; I believe it is pure evil.” It is devised and planned by a few individuals at the top to decimate, seize control of resources, oppress and kill thousands of people, and make them refugees, all to seize power,” Anam explained.

Remo: The Autobiography of Remo Fernandes takes readers on a journey through the musician’s adventurous life and engaging story, from delivering home-produced recordings on a scooter in the 1980s to becoming a national sensation. Sanjoy K. Roy, Festival Producer and Managing Director of Teamwork Arts, and Fernandes discussed his life in pursuit of his biggest loves: music, art, literature, and his country, Goa, in a session today. “I’ve always wanted to go to a literary festival, and this is my first one. I never imagined I’d be attending my first Festival as an author, but here I am!” Fernandes stated.

Jaipur Music Stage March 10th, 2022

The musical spectacle Jaipur Music Stage kicked off its 15th edition with great gusto on March 10th at Hotel Clarks Amer, Jaipur, after a full year of anticipation and two years since the last on-ground event. From the 10th to the 12th of March, the legendary Jaipur Writing Festival, which offers a delicious feast of books, literature, and ideas from India and worldwide, will be hosted amid the rejuvenating tones of music at the Jaipur Music Stage.

On the first day, the Festival featured two acclaimed artiste groups: the Anirudh Varma Collective, a contemporary Indian Classical ensemble of artists from diverse musical and cultural backgrounds led by New Delhi-based pianist, composer, and producer Anirudh Varma; and Advaita, a leading Indian fusion band with eight members who have completed fourteen years of the musical journey and are credited with creating a new contemporary Indian sound hailed by music lovers.

The Festival continues its 15-year tradition of producing a varied mix of established and emerging artists, allowing audiences to discover new music that inspires them. The much-anticipated performances from Day 1 of the Festival brought back the enchantment of live music to the stage that has seen some of the best offerings from India and around the world in past iterations.

“This March will be exceptional because the Jaipur Literature Festival is back after almost two years,” Anirudh Varma remarked of his upcoming performance. After the pandemic, I’m ecstatic to be speaking in front of a LIVE audience. Moreover, we have something special planned for the Festival this year, as we will be releasing our new single, ‘Naino waleyan,’ exclusively on JMS’s closing night.

“Rich gatherings are opening after a long period, and performing in front of a live audience is a delight in itself,” Anindo Bose of Advaita remarked of the thrill of playing in front of a live audience. We’ve written a few new songs in the last few years, but, like everyone else, we haven’t had the chance to perform them in the last two years [since the pandemic’s breakout]. So we’re excited to perform at the Festival’s hybrid incarnation and lift everyone’s spirits.”

Jaipur Music Stage March 12th, 2022

The 15th season of the Jaipur Music Stage finished on an exuberant note on March 12th 2022, after two magnificently musical evenings following a long day of literary contemplation at the Jaipur Literature Festival. Three distinct performances by singer-songwriters and musicians working across an eclectic mix of genres, including folk, pop, and rock, were featured on the final day of the music festival.

The winners of the Songdew contest, Xubaan, performed on the third day of the Festival, bringing their unique flavour of music influenced by a wide range of influences such as reggae, jazz, funk, and progressive rock; Ali Saffudin, a gifted singer-songwriter from Srinagar, Kashmir, who is known to deftly manoeuvre between tender, heart-wrenching ballads and power-packed, folk-punk anthems; and An Tewari has written and composed lyrics for a number of feature films, including Guilty, Yeh Ballet, and the blockbuster Gully Boy.

During the rescheduled dates, the Festival followed Covid-19 protocols, which were mandated by the central and Rajasthan governments.

“This platform provides an engaging chance for many writers, poets, and artists in the realms of art, literature, and music,” Ali Saffudin remarked of his performance. We’ll start with a series of Ghalib’s, followed by a wide spectrum of Kashmiri poetry, as we do every year.”

“It gives me tremendous pleasure to be back on stage after such a long period as the Festival embraces its 15th edition,” Ankur Tewari said of being a part of the Jaipur Music Stage. Literature and music are inextricably linked, so having a music stage at the ‘Kumbh of literature’ adds to the spectacle for those who attend in this post-pandemic era. There haven’t been any opportunities to perform since the pandemic, so reliving the thrill of music at the Jaipur Music Stage would be like ice cream.

A majestic heritage event evening

On the 13th of March, the Jaipur Literature Festival will host a stunning Heritage Evening at Ganesh Pol, Amer Fort. The legendary literary Festival, dubbed the ‘Kumbh of Literature,’ is taking place in a hybrid form, with outstanding performers from India and throughout the world performing in the Heritage Evening programme.

The Jaipur Literature Festival, organised in collaboration with Rajasthan Tourism, brings together arts and culture at the beautiful Amer Fort, celebrating Jaipur’s rich, historical, and architectural history through a culturally diverse showcase of poetry, dance, and music.

Various notable artists have delighted the stage with their euphonious energy in earlier editions of the Festival. Kalapini Komkali will perform BASANT SANGEET, a soul-stirring performance that will include Hori, Rasiya, and a Special Tribute to Pt. Kumar Gandharva. Aditi Mangaldas, a leading dancer and choreographer, will perform UNCHARTED SEAS, a tribute to the late Pandit Birju Maharaj. Students from ARCH COLLEGE OF DESIGN & BUSINESS, Jaipur, will close out the evening with A FASHION SHOW: GABA, which will be a celebration of mindful and sustainable living.

“Being a part of such a prestigious gathering brings me enormous pleasure and excitement, allowing me to unleash the power of music,” Kalapini Komkali, classical vocalist and daughter of the legendary Pandit Kumar Gandharva, remarked as she celebrated the 15th edition. This festival, in my opinion, brings together world-renowned academics, performers, and young artists, resulting in a worldwide recognised spectacular. This year, via my songs, I’ll be enjoying the beauty of spring, making it a memorable evening for those who attend.”

“Let our dance be the rainbow that overcomes the clouds that have descended upon the art world, and let our art form be the colour that fills our lives with optimism,” said Aditi Mangaldas, a famous Kathak dancer and choreographer who was also part of the programme. The opportunity to perform at the Heritage Evening of the Jaipur Literature Festival 2022 is providing us with warmth and vitality this season. Thank you for your continuing support of the arts, Teamwork Arts.”

“We are thrilled that the Jaipur Literature Festival is back [on-ground] this year, as we had an incredible heritage fashion show at the magnificent Amer Fort two years ago!” Archana Sorana, Founder and Director of the ARCH School of Design, Jaipur, said, concluding the Heritage Evening with what promises to be a breathtaking show. This year, we’re putting together a show of wearable art that highlights Rajasthan’s grandeur as well as indigenous knowledge systems that can be leveraged to further develop a design culture that goes beyond legacy.”

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