BENGALURU: In eight years of Bangalore Literature Fest, the two-day event has proven to become a community-driven initiative. With a month to go for the fest (to be held on November 9 and 10), the core group, including festival director Shinie Anthony, is currently finalising the speakers, which will be announced next week. “We get popular names, and many people who come to the festival to catch a glimpse of them stay on to be part of the other events. So, from casual visitors they turn into engaging audience,” says V Ravichandar, who is part of the core organising committee.
During 150 sessions, close to 200 speakers will discuss and debate pertinent issues related to sports, regional languages and gender. “We have lined up a solid draw of Indian and international authors and speakers across a wide range of literary and current conversations, including cricket and sport, Bollywood, Donald Trump, Indian elections, state of the economy, environment and climate change, popular fiction, sci-fi and speculative fiction, mythology, mental health, poetry specials, Jane Austen readings, strong Kannada and regional language representation like each year. We will be celebrating Girish Karnad’s work and life,” he says.
There will also be an expanded offering for children, with three of the six stages for them. “Over the years, we have been increasing number of activities for children. While we started with one stage, this year we have three. There’s a two-fold reason to it: The lit fest being a family outing, and second, the interest children have in books. While many claim that the reading habit is dwindling among youngsters, we don’t find that to be true,” he says, adding that the evenings will conclude with programmes by musician Manasi Prasad and band and Thayir Sadam Project comprising Bindu Subramaniam, Ambi Subramaniam, Mahesh Raghavan and Akshay Anantapadmanabhan.
The challenges are aplenty, including the infrastructure of the city and lack of public spaces to conduct a community event. “We are hosting a public event at a private space because of lack of venues in the city. These are some aspects that really need to be looked into,” he says, adding that with over 90 lit fests across the country, they don’t plan to take it to other cities. The fest – funding for which is dependent on ‘friends of BLF’, who contribute between `1 lakh to `5 lakh – means independence in terms of content and format. “However, we are not able to offer a speaker fee, which means losing out on big names,” says Ravichandar. Bangalore Literature Festival will be held on November 9-10 at Lalit Ashok, Kumara Krupa Road.