Jaipur Lit Fest 2016 : 5 Days of Literature and Live Music

Posted at January 27th, 2016 | by Shivani Goel | in

The ‘Greatest Literary Show on Earth’, the Jaipur Literature Festival brings together free thinkers and literary legends from all over the world. The 2016 edition was held from 21st – 25th January in Diggi Palace and was a smashing success. From book launches to live performances, it was a celebrity studded event with literary heavyweights ranging from Ruskin Bond to Barkha Dutt, giving the audience their dose of anecdotes and debates. We bring you some of the highlights of the 5 days, to give you a feel of what went down.

Day One

Margaret Atwood

Literary legend Margaret Atwood, gave the keynote speech on Day 1. Later, in conversation with novelist and game designer Naomi Alderman about how she was cast as herself in one of Naomi’s games. She even read from her latest novel, The Heart Goes Last. It’s set in a dystopian future where people voluntarily sign up to spend 6 months out of a year in prison. Atwood takes influences from high art to trashy television, and her book reflects everything from Shakespeare to Stepford Wives.


Karan Johar speaking about his frank and riveting memoir, ‘An Unsuitable Boy’ with Poonam Saxena and Shobhaa De

Bollywood film-maker Karan Johar, in conversation with Shobhaa De and Poonam Saxena about his unreleased memoir An Unsuitable Boy. The book, co-authored by Johar and Saxena, is a detailed and riveting account about his life. Karan openly criticises India’s criminalisation of homosexuality, touching on his troubling childhood and being bullied for his effeminate mannerisms.


Ruskin Bond

Ruskin Bond, India’s most beloved storyteller, in conversation with publisher Ravi Singh, in a wide conversation about Ruskin’s journey as a writer and a man. Bond started publishing in his early teens, and friendship plays a strong part in a lot of his stories. Recently, Penguin India celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of Ruskin’s very first novel, and he still claims that “You can always be a better writer.”



The Kutle Khan Project gave a stellar performance on day 1 of the festival. They are a unique collective of folk musicians from Rajasthan, with Kutle Khan as the front man. Khan is multi-talented and has performed across various stages around the world. He plays a wide variety of percussion instruments, writes and composes his own songs, and sings soulful renditions of his tracks.

Day Two


Stephen Fry is a man of many talents and pursuits; writer, actor, comedian, TV show host, and Icon. In conversation with writer Anandita Ghose, he spoke about his lifelong love affair with words. He was asked to reveal his writing method, to which he commented that no one method can work for everyone, but a good technique to adopt Graham Greene’s trick; ending a day’s writing session with an unfinished sentence so that it would be easier to begin the next day.



Suman Yadav has trained in the Guru Shishya Parampara musical tradition and holds a Doctorate in Music from Gandharva Mandal in Mumbai and a PG degree in Music from the University of Rajasthan. She has been performing across India for more than 2 decades and was part of the morning music performances on day 2 of the festival.


Shakespeare redefined by the beauty of the language from the land of diverse culture, India! Piya Behrupiya

Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, redefined by the beauty of the language from the land of diverse culture, has been famously adapted in India, in the form of Piya Behrupiya. The Jaipur Literature Festival 2016, had a brilliant take on the famous play.


this unquiet

Renowned television journalist Barkha Dutt in conversation with Shobha De about Dutt’s latest book, This Unquiet Land. The audience was riveted by the anecdotes in the book which covered Barkha’s long and illustrious career ranging from stories about political figures like Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi to issues like inequality and the beef ban. Dutt agrees that there is inequality in many sections of society but doesn’t play the gender victim card being a woman in her line of work.

Day Three


The third day of JLF saw a sufi music concert by Mir Mukhtiyar Ali. Born in a small village called Pugal, Mukhtiyar Ali represents the 26th generation which has successfully kept alive the tradition of Sufiana Qalam. The audience was riveted by a soulful performance by the legendary musician.


The Sialkot Saga

Author of best-selling thrillers Ashwin Sanghi, in conversation with Bollywood starlet Kajol and publisher Sudha Sadhanand about Saghi’s upcoming novel, The Sialkot Saga. This book is the labour of his love and is set against the backdrop of the India – Pakistan partition of 1947. Sanghi commented that a great novel is not one where the reader turns the pages, but where the pages turn themselves.


The Need to Listen- Dialogue versus Rhetoric

Indian politician and columnist Sudheendra Kulkarni, academic Syed Salman Chishty, Dalit writer P. Sivakami, and advocate Pinky Anand, moderated by MP of the Indian National Congress Party Shashi Tharoor, debating about The Need to Listen; exploring the increasingly popular trend of dialogue between different groups which either escalates into violence or descends into the rhetoric. The panelists had widely different views and it was a thrilling discussion.


mrigya karsh kale

A combined performance by Mrigya and Karsh Kale was a musical treat for the attendees. Mrigya, formed in 1999, is one of India’s most prestigious world music bands. They have toured extensively across the globe and their unique sound mixes Blues, Funk, Folk, Latin, Indian Classical, and Jazz. Karsh Kale is described by Billboard as a “visionary composer and producer”, and is now known as a pioneer in the world of global fusion.

Day Four


The year 1947 was a violent turning point for the country because of The Great Partition which resulted in the establishment of the two distinct nations; Dominance of Pakistan and Union of India. Pakistani-American historian Ayesha Jalal, writer and historian Venkat Dhulipala, philanthropist Yasmin Khan, prolific writer Nisid Jahari, and founder of the first feminist publishing house in India, Urvashi Butalia, in conversation with historian Vazira Zamindar about the vast and lasting effects that the partition had.


swachh bharat- the india story

Shashi Tharoor, Desraj Kali and Anustup Nayak in conversation with Sanchaita Gajapati Raju about Swachh Bharat: The Story of India. In 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced this initiative to clean up the streets of India. Tharoor believes in reforms for the personnel in charge of cleaning up the streets with higher salaries and better equipment. The panelists agreed that nothing is going to change overnight, but with combined and constant efforts there can be a significant difference.



Delhi 2 Dublin started as an electronic fusion between Celtic fiddle and bhangra beats. Born in Vancouver in 2006, it was found by Tarun Nayar, Sanjay Seran, and Ravi Binning. They are described as the “United Nations of rock ‘n’ roll”, and nine years of constant touring has made Delhi 2 Dublin one of Canada’s most buzzed-about bands.


a poetic genealogy

Famous scriptwriter and prolific poet Javed Akhtar in conversation with writer, critic, and literary historian Rakhshanda Jalil about his illustrious family tree and the intimate intertwining of the history of Urdu poetry, following the recent release of a 5 – volume collection of poems by his grandfather, Muztar Khairabadi titled Kharman.

Day Five


‘Is Freedom of Speech Absolute and Unconditional?’ A debate raged on this spark-inducing topic between political activist Kapil Mishra, policy director Salil Tripathi, Tamil writer P. Sivakami, former IFS officer Pavan K Varma, author and columnist Suhel Seth, journalist and magazine editor Madhu Trehan, and actor Anupam Kher, moderated by producer of JLF Sanjoy K Roy. The consensus of the audience was eventually against this, as they believe that some amount of restrictions should be imposed on freedom of speech to retain its sanctity.


eunuch, me hijra me laxmi

Transgender rights Activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi walked on stage and stated “I am hot and sexy and beautiful”. The crowd roared in appreciation as she proceeded to speak about her biography ‘Me Hijra, Me Laxmi’, written by Vaishali Rode. She stressed about the inequalities in treatment to the LGBT community and stressed at the importance of ‘opportunity with dignity’.


khaamosh shotgun sinha speaks

Legendary actor Shatrughan Sinha, politician Shashi Tharoor, author Bharathi S. Pradhan, and socialite Suhel Seth in conversation Shotgun’s book Anything But Khamosh: The Shatrughan Sinha Biography, authored by Pradhan. Sinha speaks with candour about the trials and tribulations about his controversial career in both Bollywood and politics, and about his personal life as well.



There was a Youth Outreach performance by the Yuva Ekta Foundation. About 500 Jaipur school students were approached by the foundation and it was the culmination of a 6 day Expressive Arts Workshop with 50 youths from varying socio-economic backgrounds. The performance was titled FINDING ME: a Search for Identity, a Search for Self and left the audience in a reflective mode.


Shivani Goel

मुख्य लेखिका


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