Taj Literature Festival in AgraThe world of the written word obtained another unique global platform to bring to the surface the hidden talents of innumerable writers, literary buffs, publishers, editors and other of their ilk in the first ever held Taj Literature Festival in December 2013. It is one of the unique opportunities for tourists to meet their literary giants and newer emerging writers all under one singular canopy of those who idolize the written word.
Taj Literature Fest, held at Agra for the first time in February 2013, was a fall back to the durbars of Akbar when his nine ‘Ratnas’ or nine gems rendered their compositions in a manner and élan that was unequalled by any other conclaves of erudition across time and space. Agra was the most appropriate site selected to host and organise this literature festival seeing its powerful history of being the seat of creativity in the arts whether they are the literal, performing, plastic or dynamic art forms. Against the backdrop of Taj Mahal, the Taj Literature Festival is an apt tribute to the eras bygone of literary giants like Tansen, Ghalib, Naisr and Soordas as well as the many new vistas to unfold in and ending fiesta of savoring the written, enacted and portrayed word.
Taj Literature Festival is a celebration of the spirit of humanity that has survived over the centuries through the written word. The festival acknowledges the power of not only the written word but also the word that is enacted in a play and given a powerful rendition through stage, drama and literary and musical composition. This festival is not only a celebration of the bygone authors and the present tribe of word craft but is also a harbinger of the trends that will follow and is a riddle in predicting the future works of young and old aspirants venturing into the world of literature.
Taj Literature Festival in Agra Vision
The producer and organizer of the Taj Literature Festival, Harvijay Singh Bahia voiced his motivation for organizing the magnum opus. “The festival is an attempt to rejuvenate the embers of the aesthetic spirit” that was embodied in the works of Ghalib, Tansen, Soordas and Nazeer. He continued that the festival would serve up a rich fare of engrossing panel discussions on the up and coming authors who were prolifically putting aside pulp on the common these of sex, money, crime, gender, power games and the ever amazing mystique of spirituality. The popularity of cricket is apparent from the inclusion in the Literature Festival of the Master Blaster, Sachin Tendulkar.
The Festival also promised to look into the literary and writers’ perspective on honor killing which would border on the role of literature as action oriented literature of activism and the change bringing literature of social change. The festival holds forth the covenant of seeing several book launches and a special session of the legendary film actor, Shammi Kapoor. The Taj Literature Festival is indeed a feast for the audiences who throng to the venue in their thousands making it a packed session of activities that revel in the written words of authors bygone, those that are presently hep and happening besides those who are standing in the wings for their chance at fame and fortune in the world of literature.
The first Taj Literature Festival in Agra was about creativity and the second one was a commemorative exposition of the works of internationally renowned Indian word stars like Rabindranath Tagore and Sant Soordas, each was writing in a genre that elucidated the pathos of the common life in their particular eras. They talked of an earthy spirituality that was borne forth through simple hearts and hard working hands. The centre stage of the festivities was the three-day large servings of literary offerings from the myriad pens across the world. The highlights of the evenings are the sufi performances by musical geniuses of the ilk of the Wadali brothers and several others.
The day passes by swiftly on the wings of plenary talks, discussions and debated on the works of literary figures who are legends for the common man and yet who stride larger than life before them. The wide spectrum of topics ranges from politics to cricket and predictions of who will emerge victorious from the 2014 general elections.
Celebrities at Taj Literature Festival in Agra
The festival saw a historical production of ‘Tumhari Amrita’ directed by Feroz Abbas Khan and enacted by the film and stage stalwarts Farooq Sheikh and Shabana Azmi. Other highlights were the dynamic reading session organized by the award winning British Historian William Darymple and an acoustically delightful musical rendition by Vidya Shah.
From the inauguration of the second Taj Literature Fair to participating wholeheartedly in interactions with school children the veteran Indian cinema actor, Sharmila Tagore was a most graceful presence. With equal ease who lead the author of ‘Jorasanko’, the ancestral house of Tagore – the historical novelist, Aruna Chakravarti and also shared her naughty school time episode of palming off Rabindranath Tagore’s poem as her own so impressed she had been with it. She also regaled the audiences with the position and lifestyles of the women of Tagore’s household – their lives intertwined with ‘dharma’ and their duties towards their husbands besides their duties as good mothers and members of society.
Juxtaposed against these entertaining and engrossing revelations there was the astute prediction mode of MJ Akbar who gave his views on the fortunes of the various political parties in the forthcoming elections.
Authors celebrated all over the world participated in the second Taj Literature Festival on 12-14 December 2013. Some of the names were Ashwin Sanghi, Rauf Ahmerd, Aruna Chakravarti, Anupama Chopra, Bina Ramani, Christopher Doyle, William Darymple, Maria Goretti, Ziya-us-salaam, Rakeysh Om Parkash Mehra, Ravi Subramanium, MJ Akbar, Farooq Sheikh, Sharmila Khan Pataudi and Shabana Azmi.