Jaipur, Jan 24 : A sea of heavyweight literary icons, including the likes of Pico Iyer, Amy Tan and Tom Stoppard, have begun to assemble in this Pink City to participate in the annual five-day literary extravaganza that kicks off on Thursday morning.
The 12th edition of Zee Jaipur Literature Festival will feature over 200 sessions on a multitude of topics, trends, ideas and genres, ranging from fiction, poetry, nonfiction, gender, environment, science, history, liberal arts, journalism, economics, travel and cinema.
Sticking to its usual format, the festival will again open with a keynote address and reach its culmination with a debate where the audience has the opportunity to vote either in favour of or against the given motion.
The festival will be inaugurated by Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje on Thursday morning, followed immediately by the keynote address by Pico Iyer, in which he will be talk about "A world without borders."
With as many as seven sessions taking place simultaneously throughout the day, there's a lot that visitors may look forward to.
Tom Stoppard, winner of an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for "Shakespeare in Love", will discus his life and work in a fascinating free-flowing session called "The Real Thing." A discussion aptly titled "The Great Survivor" will see former Afghan President Hamid Karzai and William Dalrymple discuss his life, legacy and leadership through the country's recent turbulent times.
In "The Bridget Jones' Diaries," novelist Helen Fielding will be in conversation with publisher Meru Gokhale on the comic and the tragic, film and fiction and Bridget Jones' bumpy ride to motherhood.
The programme also celebrates the diversity of languages, their enigmatic roots and multifaceted trajectories.
In "Lok Bhasha: The Oxford Dictionaries Hindi Word of the Year," the announcement of the first ever Oxford Dictionaries aHindi Word of the Year' will be made at the festival, followed by a panel discussion with Ashok Vajpeyi, Pankaj Dubey, Saurabh Dwivedi, Vinod Dua, Yatindra Misra and Anu Singh Choudhary on new trends in Hindi usage and writing.
In "Hindi Medium: Language and Elitism," Annie Montaut, Avinash Das, Satya Vyas and Satyanand Nirupam will examine the value of Hindi, its position as a common language in a multilingual nation, a language steeped in deep literary traditions as well as one that is familiar within both popular culture and the marketplace.
Further, the festival will also witness book launches by acclaimed writers like Ashok Chopra, Shashi Tharoor and Ashwin Sanghi, among 20 book launches that are set to take place over the course of the next five days.
The closing debate for the festival will see a noted panel deliberate on the motion "#MeToo: Do Men Still Have It too Easy?"
Meanwhile, with the Shree Rajput Karni Sena going on a rampage in many parts of the country against Sanjay Leela Bhansali's "Padmaavat", the authorities are taking additional precautions to prevent any untowardly incident.
Notably, Mahipal Singh Makrana, the president of the fringe group, has warned it will be protesting against the presence of Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) chief Prashoon Joshi at the festival.
"We have strengthened deployment at the festival and have conducted a full security round with the concerned officers.
We have also brought in two companies of Rajasthan Armed Constabulary along with Emergency Response Teams to counter any security issue.
We have also installed face recognition camera to identify potential miscreants," said Additional Commissioner of Police Nitin Deep Blaggan.
Zee Jaipur Literature Festival is produced by Teamwork Arts and acclaimed writers Namita Gokhale and William Dalrymple are its co-directors.
The annual gathering, held at Diggi palace here, is one of the most anticipated literary events globally and witnesses massive footfall of book lovers from India and abroad.
(Saket Suman is in Jaipur at the invitation of the organisers of Zee Jaipur Literature Festival.
He can be contacted at [email protected])