JAIPUR -- Okay, roll up, roll up, who do you think today's Big Bollywood Draw was for day four of JLF? If you guessed Gulzar, you win! Your prize: a photo of a fan who climbed a tree just to look at his face while he read out his poetry.
In second and third place, Javed Akhtar and Amish respectively, although it being a lovely sunny day and a Sunday to boot, everyone's sessions were totally packed. I myself experienced a moment of confusion on day three, when I went to attend Margo Jefferson's session on her memoir and found people pushing and shoving to enter. “Wow,” I thought to myself, “There's a revival of interest in the memoir as a narrative form suddenly.” Alas, Jefferson never came to the lit fest for mystery reasons, and the crowd—several shoulders deep—was there only for Bollywood's Javed Akhtar once more.
Bar bar dekho
Gulzar was also honoured at the Harper Collins publishing party the night before, but many grumblings were heard in the crowd as the bar stopped serving while he was on stage. Ironic, considering a lot of his poetry is about alcohol, quipped a dry-throated Gulzar fan.
The wrong address
Speaking of mystery reasons for not showing up, one's been cleared up anyway. Historian Niall Ferguson was expected to appear this year, and instead he tweeted this:
One hears the “bureaucracy” at any rate was a result of the Indian Embassy sending the visa to his address at Harvard instead of Davos, where Ferguson is attending the World Economic Forum.
READ: Jaipur Literature Festival, Day 3: These Days People Seem To Have Become Oversensitive, Says Kajol
The most exciting thing that happened online today was press-reticent Margaret Atwood answering questions on Twitter. Up on the press terrace, the people manning it have a spreadsheet with a list of interview requests on it—the Margaret Atwood ones went into multiple numbers, if not pages.
But sadly (for us who wanted to meet her one-on-one) she said no interviews and was sticking to that stance. A few choice samples from her afternoon's conversation though.
.@WhereDidJennyGo: That's a tough one. Adjective weed? Read Emily Dickinson? Or? Maybe however it's good and you're just too critical!— Margaret E. Atwood (@MargaretAtwood) January 24, 2016
For the rest of it, go check out her Twitter page.
Atwood stayed nice and late at the Elle magazine party in her honour at Samode Haveli. She seemed surrounded by friends, and apart from a few people at the party—okay, everyone at the party going up and saying hello and what an honour it was to meet her, she chatted to her friends, drank champagne and was lovely and gracious to whoever stopped by her table. The party lasted later than most of the publishing ones, and the final guests had to be ushered out gently, with the waiters pointedly folding up table linen in the background.
Everybody needs good neighbours
At a session called “Temples In Pakistan,” ZEE anchor Sudhir Chaudhary came in for some flak from an audience member. She said (and I'm paraphrasing): ZEE's job seems to be making money off being anti-Pakistan. She then proceeded to give him a lecture on how relations with our neighbouring country should be improved, and him and his channel should be more positive about it. Considering the whole festival is sponsored by ZEE TV, slightly awkward moment there for them? An aside: two Pakistani diplomats were prevented from attending the lit fest by the Indian government who argued, “Permissions and denials are part of the process.”
Raking the coals
And here's the controversy of the day, former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor had many choice things to say about the PM in a session called “Swachh Bharat: The India Story.” He said, among other things that the PM's silence on the Dalit students suicide was “baffling” and “on all key issues facing our nation, there has been no communication from the PM.” Plus this notable quotable: “When you cast a vote, you vote for caste.”
You know you love me, xoxo Gossip Girl
I've been trying to pin down the elusive person behind the Twitter handle JLF Insider for the past four days, but no luck. Reading his or her deliciously bitchy tweets have always been fun though, whether or not you're at the festival. I leave you today, then, with a few samples.
What's really the point of Ford Samwad anyway. Apart from being seating arrangement for Chaayos.— JLF Insider (@JLFInsider) January 24, 2016
'What! Kajol ka session khatam? Main itne dur se aayi thi sirf iske liye'
Overheard a gaggle of college girls while waiting for Stephen Fry.— JLF Insider (@JLFInsider) January 23, 2016
Stephen Fry is this year's Jhumpa Lahiri. Last seen, he was warding off enthusiastic fans trying to take a selfie with him.— JLF Insider (@JLFInsider) January 22, 2016
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