KLF 2019 witnesses unprecedented footlfalls
Kerala Literature Festival, 2019, organized by DC Kizhakemuri Foundation with the support of Kozhikode Saamskarika Vedhi, bore witness to a massive crowd of 2.6 lakh people attending various sessions conducted by around 350 guest speakers and authors.
From topics related to Sabarimala and Women Empowerment to literature and Rebuilding Kerala after floods, Kerala Literature Festival 2019 touched upon a wide spectrum of subjects and drew huge crowds to their favourite authors and speakers.
The venues – Ezhuthola, Aksharam, Thulika, Vaakku and a special venue, Vellithira to screen films, located at the Calicut beach grounds held meaningful and relevant discussions. The sessions were well planned and the time was managed effectively. Attendees also had an opportunity to buy their favourite books from the DC books stalls at the venue and get them signed by the authors.
Arundhati Roy, Shashi Tharoor, Navin Chawla, Shobha De, Richard Stallman, Devdutt Patnaik, Chetan Bhagat, Rakesh Sharma, Amish Tripati, Prakash Raj, Ravinder Singh, Gaur Gopal Das, Swamy Agnivesh, Benyamin, Sara Joseph and Loknath Behra are some of the bigwigs who attended KLF as guest speakers.
Sui Generis Ideas
The central theme of KLF 2019 was diversity and the event stood out both in terms of the range and quality of its content. The Guest Nation was Wales and the Focus Language was Marathi.
Makers of Modern India
There were several sessions on the great minds that made our country what it is today. The first session was Arguments with Gandhi with an authoritative figure when it comes to the legacy of Gandhi in these modern times, Ramachandra Guha. Shajahan Madampatt conversed with the Guha, the author of Gandhi before India and India after Gandhi.
The second session was Nehru: The Discovery of India and was a much awaited session. Shashi Tharoor conducted the session and said that the government in power today has been constantly trying to repudiate what Nehru did and hence it is important to have a book written upon Nehru. When asked about hindutva and hinduism, Tharoor was quoted as saying that, “Hindutva has nothing to do with hinduism. It is a political doctrine.” In his second session, The Paradoxical Prime Minister, with Anjana Sankar, Tharoor talked about the current situation of the ruling government and also opined about the rules which have gone against the fundamental rights of artists. He also commented on the Sabarimala issue, saying that he would not agree with the new law as it goes against many believers, and as a representative he could not agree with something that would go against his people’s belief.
The third session was Radical in Ambedkar by Dr. KS Madhavan who said Ambedkar was a person who helped carve two nations; an imaginary India and a real India. He also spoke about the two books by Ambedkar, Untouchables and Who were the Shudras. He touched upon the struggles Ambedkar faced before he drafted the Constitution and how he brought local issues like Graded Inequality to National Front and addressed them.
Makers of Modern Kerala
The sessions on the most influential people who developed Modern Kerala were remembered and discussed.
The first session on this topic was about Narayanaguru and was conducted by the veteran speaker Sunil P Ilayidom. Another session was about DC Kizhakemuri where AJ Philip talked about DC Kizhakemuri’s contribution in creating a new Kerala. The third session was about Makti Thangal who used knowledge as a tool for social reform. Shajahan Madampatt, Dr. Mahmood Kooria and M C Abdul Nazar spoke about the contributions of Makthi Thangal which was new information for many who attended the session.
The session with Sunny Kapikad on Ayyankali and a session about Dhakshyani Velayudhan with R. Parvathi and Dr. KS Madhavan evoked memories in many people. A session about a very relevant issue, From Mulachiparambu to Sabarimala was moderated by Sangeetha Chenampulli and K Ajitha, K K Koch and MN Karassery participated in the session. On Day 4 of KLF 2019, there was a session on Poikayil Appachan hosted by KK Kochu, MB Manoj and moderated by Dr. KS Madhavan. The session Vaghbadanandan was led by KM Anil.
The ideas to rebuild Kerala after the major floods that destroyed the state were discussed in these sessions. The session Start Changes, Repeat by Saji Gopinath, T P Sethumadhavan, Jithin VG and moderated by Rajesh Nair was the first session on the topic. V S Vijayan, T P Kunhikannan, Anil Kumar PP, APM Mohammed Hanish and Prasanth Nair (IAS) spoke about The Rise of Sunken Kerala. Another session by PH Kurian, Dr. Venu IAS, M Sivasankar IAS and C Balagopal held discussions on how we can reimagine disaster management. The final session was Models of Sustainable Future by Venu Rajamony, V Sunilkumar, Ar. Vivek PP, Abdul Malik and Dileep Narayanan.
Other Major Sessions
Arundhati Roy, the veteran author, graced KLF, the only Literature Festival she attends. In her session Fiction is Truth, she voiced her views on the politics in fiction and the current socio-political conditions of India. She also marked her strong objection towards Gandhi’s views on cast and reservation claiming that, “Gandhi cannot be called Mahatma.” In her second session, The Literature of Politics, with Anjana Shankar, the politics in her books, The God of Small Things and the Ministry of Utmost Happiness stood as key topics of discussion. Several questions were asked about the controversial statement that she had made about Gandhi on the previous day at KLF, to which Roy replied that she firmly stands by what she has said.
The ISRO spy scandal is one that will remain in our memories for a long time to come. In an important session, one of the accused, Maldivian national Fauziya Hassan spoke at the KLF 2019 about her experiences during the trial and her three-and-a-half years of imprisonment. She was interviewed by noted Malayalam journalist MP Basheer. Fauziya did not know any of the accused except for Mariam Rasheeda. She did not know of either Nambi Narayanan or Raman Srivastava – two names that frequently came up during the investigation. Fauziya broke down as she described that she could only think of her daughter then and told the police that she will agree to whatever they say. In spite of all that happened to Fauziya Hassan in the state of Kerala, she said she does not hate it.
The session with Rakesh Sharma, the first Indian citizen to travel in space was one everyone was looking forward to. It was his 70th birthday that day. His birthday was celebrated on the stage. He talked about the necessity in finding a new space to live if Earth gets destroyed one day. He also said we have to consider development without exploiting natural resources.
DGP Loknath Behra, in his session Crime Writing, praised the Kerala Police force in their efficiency in Crime investigations. He spoke about the different cases he worked and also mentioned the books of Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie
Padmapriya and Rima Kallingal, the two brilliant actors from Malayalam Film Industry and members of Women in Cinema Collective, shared the dais with director, producer, thespian, television presenter and upcoming political figure Prakash Raj in a discussion on Refining Contours regarding Gender Equality. The session became so interactive with Mridula Garg, iconic feminist-writer defining feminism.”Every woman has the right to decide what feminism is and they can be differently different.”
The heated discussions on the recent Sabarimala issue attracted many people. In a free flowing interaction with Sara Joseph, she said that time has changed from when women were uneducated and the upper caste men decided what women should do. She urged all the women to come forward and demand their rights. In another session, PK Sajeev said that women are holy, not unholy and what a woman does is much more than a man, so she should be treated equally. The sessions on Sabarimala provided a diverse perspective on the issue.
Joseph Annamkutty Jose, Resmi Sateesh and Sayanora captured many hearts at KLF 2019. Their sessions were humorous and entertaining. Joseph Annamkutty Jose talked about how he became an RJ with his different voice and how his love made him a better person. Resmi Satheesh and Sayanora entertained the audience with their soulful music.
KLF 2019 had Wales as the Guest nation and had a representation of Welsh authors with a few sessions by poets Caryl Lewis, Llyr Gwyn Lewis, Elin Haf Gruffyd Jones, Robert Minhinnick and Harkaitz Cano. English sessions by Richard Stallman on Free Software, Shashi Taroor on Makers of Modern India and The Paradoxical Prime minister and Marathi poem recital by Anuradha Patil, Praful Shiledar, Pradnya Daya Pawar, Shridar Nandedkar and Chandrakant Patil were different experiences for the attendees.
Stage Ezhuthola held cultural programs everyday. Kijote Kathakali by the Margi Kathakali team, an Acoustic show Almut and Alif Live where German, Urdu and Kashmiri poetry were recited with contemporary music, L. Subramaniam’s Live Concert and Russian Music and Dance helped the attendees mellow out after many important and informative sessions.
Inspired by the huge crowd that gathered at the Calicut Beach grounds, small voluntary groups conducted a few programs that drew crowds. A team of students conducted a Flash Mob and a group of youngsters and kids sang songs with musical instruments and conveyed messages on social issues using charts.
The four days of Kerala Literature Festival, held from January 10 – 13, 2019 concluded with the motivation from successful people, a chance to see and interact with them and a captivating sunset at the Calicut beach.