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The popular Times Literature Fest has been taking place in two cities, Mumbai and Delhi for the last three years, though the Mumbai fest is seven years old. The Delhi fest took place in the week ending 26 November. This two-day fest followed standard procedure of literary festivals nowadays; there were discussions, debates, author signing, book stalls and a few stage performances including a standup comedy act.
After the inauguration of the festival by Vice-President of India, Venkaiah Naidu, the first session saw a special address by the Nobel Peace prize awardee Kailash Satyarthi. This turned dramatic when a lady lashed out at Satyarthi, asking him to justify the grounds on which he received the highest nobility award.

To mark the birth centenary of the first lady Prime Minister of India- Indira Gandhi, Jairam Ramesh, in a session dedicated to Indira’s love for nature, enlightened the audience of the number of initiatives that were carried by her in those times. He talked about the Save Silent Valley movement (Palakkad, Kerala), Save Our Tigers project and held them as futuristic projects for sustainable development. He also said, ‘In politics everyone is Abhimanyu. They know how to enter it but don’t know how to get out of it. Though Mrs Gandhi hailed from a political family, her interest was not in politics and she, in fact, wanted to get out of politics at various points of time but she didn’t.’

The sunny, sprawling lawns and auditoriums of India Habitat Centre were packed with people to listen to the aesthetic couple of Bollywood, Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar, on two distinctively different topics of Nationalism and Art. The same level of enthusiasm was seen in the sessions of Amish Tripathi, Anand Neelkanthan, Ashwin Sanghi and Ravi Subramanium, the faces of commercial writing in India. And Shashi Tharoor was caught off guarded when Rajdeep Sardesai raised the question of his party’s seriousness towards the future of sports in India. Finally, the two-day gala event ended with a mesmerizing musical performance by a school band.

In Mumbai, on home ground at the Mehboob Studios, December 15-17 weekends saw crowds throng to listen to ‘All The World’s A Story’, featuring those from a range of spheres, economics to ecology, films to food, and of course literature. ‘In its seven years The Times Lit fest has enchanted Mumbai with its rainbow offering: the best minds from India and abroad, incandescent discussions, OMG moments, interactive sessions, great entertainment. We are thoughtful, caring, buzzing and cool—just like our city’, said Bachi Karkaria, Festival Director.

Voice of India, Ameen Sayani, at 84, boomed and played retro songs, thrilling his large crowd of young fans. Gulzar said, ‘Age has nothing to do with becoming a novelist’. Amit Masurkar, makers of the very well-received film, Newton, said he would have been surprised if the film won an oscar, pointing out, we were competing against the world’s top 98 films. On the final day, Anupam Kher, in his inimitable style said, ‘Health issues, physical and mental, don’t define who you are’. The profound words came in a session in which Kher talked about his life coaching book.



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