The Mysuru Literature Festival, launched by that dynamic bubbling young lady of our regal city, also a city of education, art and literature, had to go ‘underground’ due to COVID-19 during 2020 and 2021. However, the new technology came to its rescue and it surfaced as online Literature Festivals of 2020 and 2021.
Well, no pandemic could pull down the soaring spirit of the Mysuru Literature Festival’s Chairperson Shubha Sanjay Urs. As they say, if ‘to dream is to have wings,’ I discovered on 23rd and 24th of this month that Shubha Sanjay Urs was the wind beneath those wings. And, of course, her ever alert and attentive husband Sanjay Urs is the man of logistics and a wizard of the show. The man behind the successful woman! The Festival that was online in the past two years, surfaced in full bloom in the open this season.
I attended the Festival both days and it was undoubtedly a blitzkrieg of a literature festival far exceeding the past festivals in its range, variety and literary flourish.
This sixth edition of Mysuru Literature Festival-2022 was a bonanza for the lovers of books, music and more. No wonder both the days it was houseful what with so many big marquee names in their given field of activity, mainly who wrote books, participating. Think of this: Whoever thought Mrs. Geetanjali Shree of the Hindi literary world, who recently won the most coveted prize (probably after Nobel Prize for Literature) the International Booker Prize 2022 for her translated book ‘Tomb of Sand,’ in Hindi ‘Ret Samadhi’, would be the ‘big catch’ for this season? Sita Bhaskar moderated the dialogue with the author after a brief book reading, as is the general practice, I guess.
She read a paragraph where a number of contrary phrases were used to justify what was otherwise not good or acceptable — like when ‘black is beautiful’ or ‘liquor on doctor’s orders’ — in a continuum. I remembered a similar style of writing by Charles Dickens in his novel ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ — It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…
The festival was inaugurated by Mrs. Pramoda Devi Wadiyar in keeping with the spirit of the event, a member of the erstwhile royal family known for its patronage to culture, art, literature, music, dance et al.
Mrs. Wadiyar herself is an accomplished person in designing, a patron of art and manages an educational institution. She is the Chairperson of the famous Sri Jayachamaraja Art Gallery. Some of the big names who participated in the event run like who is who.
There was Rajdeep Sardesai, better known as a left of centre TV anchor, who is a past master in asking his panellists leading questions, like a criminal lawyer, to get the answer he desires, than as an author. Here he was talking about his book ‘Democracy’s XI: The Great Indian Cricket Story.’ To discuss the book, there was the famous Cricket Commentator Charu Sharma. No politics, but then habits die hard. ‘Cricket unites, politics splits. A State is made a Union Territory…’ Well, what was it but politics? Why Andhra Pradesh, split during UPA, could not be alluded as an example?
Anyway, Rajdeep is a wonderful, affable person, very articulate always with a smile playing on his visage. Why does he call his book ‘Democracy’s XI’?
Thinks politicians have diluted, if not completely destroyed, the spirit and the substance of Democracy and it is the game of cricket where we (or he) finds real Democracy! Of course, he gives very tenable justification for it. In a way he is right. As we see, there is a steady deterioration in the spirit and substance of our country’s Democracy (due to caste, creed, race, religion, language etc. etc.). But, in cricket there is a steady progress towards Democracy from its feudal and colonial past. Why does he say this? Because, cricket which was once a game of Royalty, British rulers; a game played exclusively by the elitist class and between the clubs belonging to a given caste, religion and celebrity cricket clubs, has now become a game open to all, secular. Players are chosen purely on merit. No dynasty here at present. So, he says, “Cricket then is Indian Democracy’s alter ego.” Well said, Rajdeep.
Some call today’s cricket as the religion of India. And players are the deities! Well, I am afraid, if so there is danger here too… But we shall not despair. He says cricket today is strengthening our sense of nationhood and hence it is relevant as a role model for an ideal, good, functioning and winning Democracy.
[To be continued]
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