If you build it, they will come. Never was a truer word said, as lakhs of people expanded and swelled across the venue. It certainly felt like all of Jaipur (and Delhi, and Bombay) was stuffed into the Diggi Palace. Thankfully, (for those already on the inside), those on the outside stopped issuing new passes after a while, leaving people standing in line for hours.
Ironic isn't just an Alanis song
On the inside, maybe because the festival has become so large it's diluted, or maybe because everyone's just really nice this year, controversy stayed far, far away. At the festival anyway. In Delhi's TV studios, people angrily debated what exactly Karan Johar meant when he said at his session on Day One: "The talk about freedom of expression is the biggest joke in the world. Democracy is the second biggest joke."
A person asked to speak on TV called one of her friends at the lit fest. “What's happening?” asked the friend. “Haven't you heard? Where have you been?” “In Jaipur, darling!”
Johar's BFF actor Kajol — who was Day Three's big Bollywood draw — dismissed it with a wave of her hand. “These days people seem to have become oversensitive.” (Meanwhile, the only question my auto rickshaw driver asked me was whether I'd seen Kajol at all, and was disappointed when I said I didn't.)
And Barkha Dutt who was in conversation with Shobhaa De (whom Dutt called “spunky,” maybe a first for De) mentioned she was really disappointed in Shah Rukh Khan for backtracking on his intolerance comment. “If I want to eat beef, I will,” she said, and I'm sure she will, just not at this lit fest because all the food at the delegates lunch area is vegetarian.
Pour some sugar on me
Okay, moving on. I had mentioned how some Penguin authors got verified by Twitter in my piece yesterday. All was revealed at the Penguin Random House party at Rambagh Palace. Apparently Twitter is tying up with publishers to verify accounts and make it generally easier for authors and publishers to use the platform. Little cupcakes with Twitter and Penguin decals were distributed and everyone was informed that the hashtag for the evening was “twolittlebirds.” (The rest of the canapes definitely outshone the cupcakes though—maybe they should have distributed the prawns with a hashtag instead.)
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Public service announcement: Moving through the throngs at the festival today certainly took some experience. Faint heart never won fair lady, or moved towards their destination in this case. Standing back allowed people to file by you, so the only way to do it was to push through, elbows out and put all fine feelings aside.
Public service announcement two: The between-panels announcer at the Google Mughal tent delivered a short lecture on lit fest etiquette at several times during the day. Don't reserve seats with your bag or jacket was her most frequent plea, but later, after Javed Akhtar's session when fans mobbed him as he left, she said, to the confused crowd who had turned up for Stephen Fry who was on next: “This is not done, that was not right. All you want to do was a selfie? For what? To put on your Facebook?”
Oscar and Stephen
I must end on a nice note though. Fry's lecture on Oscar Wilde hit all the right notes — from humour, to love, to tragedy. At the end of it, the audience gave him a standing ovation, which he very bashfully thanked everyone for.
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