Roshni Banerjee


One of the many panel discussions held at Ashiana
Courtesy: HLF Media Team

The sheer number and diversity of events at this year’s Hyderabad Literary Festival (HLF)
made it quite a task for visitors to choose one over the other. Providing a smorgasbord of writers, scholars, artistes and publishers from all over the world, HLF has been running strong for four years.

Addressing the crowd at the inaugural ceremony on Friday, the 24th Akademi-winning playwright Mahesh Dattani along with the Guest of Honour, Ambassador of Ireland to India, H.E. Feilim McLaughlin. While H.E. Mr. McLaughlin expressed his excitement at being part of the Festival, Mr. Dattani spoke of the common heritage of English language shared by India and Ireland, this year’s Guest Nation.

Spread across five venues in Banjara Hills, the 3-day fiesta offered a wide variety of programmes that included panel discussions, cultural events, literary sessions, workshops, screenings and exhibitions. One of the unique art exhibits that were displayed at the Kalakriti Gallery was the Albert Camus digital interactive exhibition where the diverse contents of Camus’ work could be accessed by scanning the QR codes on smart phones. Downloading the app and scanning the codes would then open the portal to this Nobel Prize-winning author, journalist and philosopher’s texts, excerpts, annotated documents and audio-video content archive – an beautiful integration of technology and culture.

A literary fest would be incomplete without a musical evening, and this time around, it was ghazal maestro Pandit Vithal Rao who had listeners enthralled with his renditions. As one of the attendees commented, “He had a very clear voice and despite the time restraint almost everyone in the crowd kept requesting Pandit Rao for few more performances, which was then followed by a steady flow of encores.” For Pandit Rao, the sole surviving court singer of the last Nizam of Hyderabad, the evening ended with a standing ovation.

Encouraging school children to give their ambitions some thought was Baptist Coelho’s paper airplane project. Coelho, an installation artist, turned the simple act of constructing a paper airplane into a tool of expression for children, helping them visualize their dreams. The HLF panel also witnessed surprisingly riveting discussions on architecture. Pune based architect, writer and academician Narendra Dengle read from his book ‘The Discovery of Architecture’, following which he shared with the audience his views on the intricacies
of masonry, construction and the value of time with respect to buildings – aspects that would never have occurred to the layman. Reading an excerpt from her book ‘The Red Fort of Shahjahanabad’, architect Anisha Sekhar Mukherji took listeners on a trip back in time pointing out the importance of spaces in the grand old ‘Lal Qila’. HLF also played host to Rajmohan Gandhi, theatre personality Cathal Quinn, haikuist Angelee Deodhar, Dalit writer Bama, director Anand Gandhi and many more.

As the curtains came down for HLF 2014 on the 65th participants could walk away with memories worth treasuring, looking forward eagerly to the events of next year’s edition. Indian Republic Day celebrations, delegates and participants could walk away with memories worth treasuring, looking forward eagerly to the events of next year’s edition.