Did Telangana Get the Short Shrift?
HYDERABAD: Even as the Hyderabad Lit Fest 2016 kicked off amid much fanfare, as some of the country’s most distinguished writers descending upon the city, visitors felt a little short-changed with the lack of local presence on day one of the prestigious festival.
Considering Hyderabad is playing host to the event, visitors expecting local flavour were instead treated to panel discussions on Singapore literature.
The annual event, which is taking place across three days at the Hyderabad Public School, played host to several panel discussions on various topics, including nature, literature, security, cinema, arts and culture – but did not include a single session on Telangana poetry or literature, which was prominent feature last year. Quelling theories of a lack of local presence during the litfest, festival director Prof. T Vijay Kumar, explained that Telangana literature will be covered during the three-day fest.
“There is a session titled ‘Perspectivizing Telangana’ on Sunday, which will be attended by the likes of Gautam Pingle, Rama Melkote, Sajjad Shahid and T Vivek. So we have definitely not neglected Telangana,” he clarified.
Marathi as focus
Another language which is extensively being covered at Hyderabad Litfest 2016 is Marathi -- with sessions on Marathi Dalit literature, Marathi theatre and Marathi poetry. “Every year, we select one Indian language as the language of focus for the litfest. We have had Telugu, Hindi and Urdu in the previous years. This time it is Marathi. We have chosen this language because Telangana and Hyderabad has had a long, rich connection spanning 400 years with Marathi,” Vijay Kumar informed.
Expressing delight at the response on day one of the Litfest, the festival director says he’s expecting bigger crowds over the weekend. “Despite being a work day, people came out in numbers to attend the litfest and all the sessions were full. The weekend is going to be massive,” he added.
The day began buzzing with activity, and the school transformed into a hub of creativity, a centre for learning and platform to start a dialogue and exchange stimulating ideas.
The opening session saw Nayantara Sahgal being involved in yet another round of fiery words on intolerance, freedom of speech and democratic rights.
As the inaugural session of HLF on January 7 had already turned into a war of words between Nayantara and governor ESL Narsimhan, the morning panel discussion entitled ‘Free Speech & Censorship’ saw the reflections from the last evening. Nayantara almost reiterated what she had said at the inaugural session. “A writer has to be true to his/her vocation. It’s against the constitution of India that a person is denied the freedom of speech. As a civil society the citizens have to come up and voice their opinions,” she said.
“India is not a Hindu Rashtra, but a secular democratic country. India’s history during the last year was troublesome, writers were killed and the government maintained silence,” she added. As the day progressed, several other distinguished writers and Sahitya Akademi award winners voiced their views on issues close to them.
Actress Shriya Saran skipped the panel discussion on cinema. HLF ends on Sunday.