While day one began on Friday with lean attendance and a schedule that went haywire, the weekend was more punctual with its events and the crowds more in number and higher in enthusiasm.
Spread across five different venues – Ashiana, Kalpa school, Saptaparni, Lamakaan and Kalakriti Art gallery – people were seen milling about all of them in large numbers, either trying to catch their favoured authors or get an autograph for a book or continuing the conversation from the various panel discussions that took place.
From issues like gender sensibility in tales, Irish literature, 100 years of Telugu Dalit writing and the conundrum of self-publishing, there was a topic to keep everyone interested at Ashiana. However, on Saturday, Kalpa school was choc-a-block, courtesy Rajmohan Gandhi. His session on ‘Our Republic: Flashes from the Rearview Mirror’ was perhaps the most popular session throughout the whole festival, drawing in at least 600 people.
As it turned out, Gandhi and Mahesh Dattani were the two most popular authors among the crowds and were even the most widely sold authors during the three-days.
The weekend also drew people in for the many workshops that were spread across Kalakriti art gallery and Kalpa school, while Taramati Baradari hosted the evening cultural shows. Around 100 students from different schools took part in the Baptist Coelho Paper Plane Project. Divided into four sessions over two days, the project was very popular with children who had come from the Nandi Foundation and Vivekananada government school, besides private schools like Silver Oaks, Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan, Nasr, Chirec and Sreenidhi International Public school.
The print making, theatre and clay workshops were also equally popular to the point where volunteers had to turn away people due to lack of space.
All in all, compared to last year, this year’s location(s) and increase in the number of activities and visiting authors definitely made HLF 2014 a better success than, even though some of their initiatives like the book swap and the Literary Street didn’t work out so well.