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Bangalore Literature Festival: Literati meet the glitterati!

Published Dec 19, 2016, 3:54 am IST
Updated Dec 19, 2016, 7:16 am IST
Successful edition of Bangalore Literature Festival 2016 ends with a bang on Sunday.
Premila Paul in conversation with film producer Aishwaryaa Dhanush	(Photo: R. SAMUEL)
 Premila Paul in conversation with film producer Aishwaryaa Dhanush (Photo: R. SAMUEL)

Bengaluru: Fans rallied in hundreds to the #beku stage bright and early on Sunday morning to catch acclaimed author Amish Tripathi in action. He talked with his usual candour about what it means to be an author - “Creativity is one thing, but you can't do away with pragmatism,” he said.

Author Gurcharan Das followed suit - he made two very diverse appearances through the course of the day. The morning session had him engaged in conversation with G. Sampath, Rosalyn D'Mello and Vinod Pande, for 'Ooh n' Aah: Talking Erotica'.


Das arrived on stage later in the afternoon, too, for an action-packed session titled Tales of Trade, with Jerry Rao and Omkar Goswami. It was at the end of the hour that he came to the most thrilling topic of all – Cyrus Mistry.

“Anybody who has been to Bombay House and been associated with the trust for a few decades, will understand they have certain pace of life - the sedate pace of the elevator is proof of this! Still, the question how much say a trust should have in the managerial decisions of a company."

Aishwaryaa Dhanush, daughter of the superstar Rajnikanth found herself in a (perhaps more candid than she expected) interview with Premila Paul. "You have a lot in common with Jayalalithaa," she said, much to Aishwaryaa's surprise.

"You both grew up in Bengaluru, lived with your grandparents for a while, had great dreams of being a lawyer and spell your names with a double 'a' at the end," she said. Aishwaryaa, clearly overwhelmed, answered with humility that she attributes to her father. "It's very kind of you to say so, but I cannot compare myself with a stalwart like amma. Her death has left a void in Chennai that I don't think can ever be filled."

T.V. Mohandas Pai joined Rajiv Malhotra for a 'right wing' discussion - as it was referred to by the sundry crowd. Still, despite the underlying cynicism, this panel was very well-attended indeed! Malhotra slammed the 'intellectual tradition' of India, while Pai emphasised his belief in the constitution. Malhotra, who did not hold back, said, "The forums for debates are being controlled. The mainstream media is misleading people into believing things that simply aren't true."

Meanwhile, Congressman Shashi Tharoor kept up a tirade of tweets criticising the panelists, which, in truth, didn't distract the audience as much as was hoped!
Contrarian Views was the final showdown - as has become customary with the Bangalore Lit Fest. Aakar Patel, Prasanna Viswanathan, actress-turned-politician Ramya while brand expert Harish Bijoor assumed the most unenviable role of moderator.

JNU's Kanhaiya Kumar was slated to be the star of the show, although he let his audience down at the last minute. Word on the grapevine is that a party was sent to receive him at the airport on Sunday morning, a trip that proved in vain, for he simply didn't turn up! He justified his absence then, claiming to be unwell.

Actor Shatrughan Sinha took the stage at the end, lightening the mood considerably with Anything but Khamoshi! Piyush Mishra was due on stage very soon and the excitement in the air was palpable in the moments leading up to his concert.

The fifth edition of the Bangalore Literature Festival saw a massive turnout and an unparalleled lineup of authors. Regional authors didn't get as much space as usual, but the glamour of rubbing shoulders with the likes of Aishwarya Dhanush, Shashi Tharoor, Piyush Mishra and Amish Tripathi may have compensated for this! It was an intellectually and culturally charged weekend, all in all - perhaps our only grouse with the Lit Fest each year is that it must come to an end!

I’m living a dream, don’t wake me up: Amish Tripathi
Amish Tripathi needs no introduction, so one will not be attempted! The bestselling author was spotted over both days at the Bangalore Literature Festival, mingling with fans and authors alike with great ease. Bengalureans turned up in droves on Sunday morning to hear him speak and were floored, as always, by his combination of modesty and pragmatism.

“What is it about your books that touches people so much,” asked Vani Mahesh, who was in conversation with Tripathi. “No clue,” he said at once. "I'm a maths graduate and a banker – about as left brained as they come! I'm living a dream, don't wake me up!"

All the budding authors in the audience who were hoping to glean some creative insights were in for a surprise. "Keep your day job," he said. "It's not a question of corrupting the book, in fact, not having to worry about an income will keep your writing poor. Some people might call it boring, I call it pragmatism."

What are the best and worst moments of being a writer? "The best part this – I love reading and buy a lot of books. Now, all that money is tax deductible – it's research!" The less interesting moments, he said, are what come after the writing is complete. "Writing is a spiritual experience for me, but there are contracts to be made and marketing to be done. Nothing is a bed of roses, is it?"

How does he deal with the backlash that comes from writing about mythology? "There is no backlash," he said. "There are many views, we are a country of 1.2 billion people and two billion opinions. We are an opinionated and rebellious people and I see nothing wrong in debate, because it rarely descends into violence!"  

Location: India, Karnataka, Bengaluru