Festival co-director Namita Gokhale, Punit Misra (CEO, ZEE Entertainment), Sanjoy K. Roy (MD, Teamwork Arts)
The inaugural session of the twelfth edition of the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival was the equivalent of a lovely hug: woven with warmth, gentle in its embrace and heartwarmingly reassuring. The purpose, as much as it was to establish the context and relevance of the festival, was also to invite the audience to actively participate in shaping its context.
Sanjoy K. Roy, Festival Producer and Managing Director of Teamwork Arts, began the series of opening addresses by expressing his gratitude to the Diggi family for a venue that in all its vibrancy, reiterates the festival’s spirit of multiplicity. The festival endeavours, Roy said, “to celebrate, talk, debate, discuss and most importantly perhaps, create a space for dissent in our extremely divisive world.” The effort is “to ensure that all of these people we are made to fear as ‘the other’, we are able to understand them, experience them, read them and celebrate them.”
Co-Festival Director NamitaGokhalealso spoke strongly about creating inclusive spaces, noticing how “we are witnessing a unique literary moment in India,” where voices from 22 languages are finding home and publishers are mainstreaming translations like never before. While the festival continues to remain rooted in India, it has also found its roots globally with editions being organised in Adelaide, Houston, Boulder and New York. Gokhale also acknowledged Jaipur BookMark, a book conclave running parallel to the festival from January 23rd to the 26th, noting how it“creates collaborations and give us synergies between and across South Asia.” Personal reasons kept William Dalrymple, Co-Festival Director, from attending the event this year, but Gokhale related his delight about the sheer diversity that the coming five days promised: “I’ve gathered talent from across the globe.”
Punit Misra, CEO of the Domestic Broadcast Business of ZEE Entertainment Enterprises Limited, shared that ZEE was honoured to be associated with the festival because it is a “reaffirmation of our faith in the written word.” Diggi Palace, he said, really “takes the experience to the sublime.” He commended the event’s curation, wishing there was some technology to allow one person to attend multiple sessions simultaneously. B.D. Kalla, Rajasthan Minister of Art, Literature and Culture, expressed the government’s gratitude, adding how culture is a social and historical phenomenon, and how our collective crusade against superstition and social classification gains strength through such festivals.