Delayed flights, bitter cold, poor weather, stampede-like situations — nothing seems to deter the crowds from descending on Jaipur for the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) every year. As JLF celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, we do not expect the hype to get any dimmer.
Among the 175 odd sessions that are going to unfold over the next few days at four venues at Diggi Palace in the city, we bring you 15 that you shouldn't miss. From big names to big ideas, these sessions are likely to become the talking points of this year's JLF.
David Hare in conversation with Raja Sen (19 Jan, 11:15am–12:15pm, Front Lawns)
The British playwright and screenwriter, best known for his work on The Reader and The Hours, is a legend of contemporary cinema and theatre. Well-known film critic Raja Sen will engage him in conversation that will focus, among other matters, on the challenge of adaptation from text to screen.
Vaasanthi in conversation with Sudha Sadhanand (19 Jan, 1:40-2:20 pm, Cox & Kings Charbagh)
Acclaimed journalist Vaasanthi has been in the news herself recently when her biography of J Jayalalithaa came into the limelight following the former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister's death. In her session with Sudha Sadanand, she will be discussing the enigma that was "Amma", as Jayalalithaa was fondly called by her supporters, as also the challenges of writing a biography of such a secretive personality.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb introduced by David McWilliams (19 Jan, 2:30–3:30pm, Cox & Kings Charbagh)
One of the most original thinkers of our time, Taleb is known for his eclectic views on the major problems afflicting the modern world, from economic crises to environmental degradation to risk-taking and more. A compelling speaker too, his session is not to be missed.
Paul Beatty in conversation with Meru Gokhale (19 Jan, 2:30-3:30pm, Front Lawn)
Last year's Man Booker Prize winner Paul Beatty's novel is a scathing satire set in America. Speaking on the eve of Donald Trump assuming office as the next US President, Beatty would be the one of the most timely authors to listen to this JLF.
Maidul Islam, Mridula Mukherjee, Pratap Bhanu Mehta and Timothy Garton Ash in conversation with Patrick French (19 Jan, 3:45–4:45pm, Front Lawns)
Some of the biggest contemporary political minds will debate the fate of the Left during the current march of the Right as well as examine its social and economic legacy over the long 20th century.
Ashok Desai, Pratap Bhanu Mehta and Madhav Khosla in conversation with Chintan Chandrachud (19 Jan, 5:15-6:15pm, Cox & Kings Charbagh)
In the current atmosphere of intolerance towards personal liberty, this session, which will focus on the Indian Constitution, will resonate with many. We anticipate some fiery debates and questions at the end.
Rishi Kapoor in conversation with Rachel Dwyer (20 Jan, 12:30-1:30pm, Front Lawns)
We hardly need to say much to sell you this one, do we? One of Bollywood's most adored charmer has come up with his memoirs, appropriately called Khullam Khulla, and we hope he's also going to open up about all things secret and scandalous with film scholar Rachel Dwyer.
Dattareya Hosabale and Manmohan Vaidya in conversation with Pragya Tiwari (20 Jan, 5.15:-6.15pm, Cox & Kings Charbagh)
Even before the festival began, the idea of this session has upset many. The fact that two members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the mouthpiece of India's right-wing ideology, will be talking about its vision and ambitions has horrified many. So expect fireworks in this session and try to book a seat much in advance.
A.N.D. Haksar, Alex Watson and Tim Whitmarsh in conversation with Arshia Sattar (21 Jan, 11.15am - 12.15pm, Mughal Tent)
The theme of this session is atheism and the historical challenges it has faced since the classical era. Three formidable scholars of religion, who have an innate facility with language and an ability to decode complex theories in easily comprehensible language, are discussing this knotty topic. Expect lots of wry wit.
Roberto Calasso in conversation with Devdutt Pattanaik (22 Jan, 10-11am, Front Lawn)
Who but India's best-loved mythographer should be speaking with the man who's been described as a "literary institution" by The Paris Review? Roberto Calasso will be talking about the Vedas and the Vedic people who lived in northern India more than 3,000 years ago.
Mallika Dua in conversation with Suhel Seth (22 Jan, 5.15-6.15pm, Cox & Kings Charbagh)
If he's got sass, she's even sassier. This panel with the unstoppable and uncensorable Suhel Seth and India's Instagram Queen Mallika Dua will be a riot — we can predict this one from a mile.
Luke Harding introduced by Samanth Subramanian (23 Jan, 3.45-4.45pm, Mughal Tent)
Luke Harding, acclaimed journalist and a Moscow correspondent, will be talking about Edward Snowden, the US whistleblower who's living in hiding since he blew up his own cover. In conversation with him will be Samanth Subramaniam.
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