Organized by a group of Bangalore based writers and bibliophiles, the Bangalore Literature Festival (BLR) took place over 3 days, December 7 to 9 at Jayamahal Palace in the city of Gardens, Bengaluru. Gulzar, as he is popularly known (Gulzar is Sampooran Singh Kalra’s pen name) was the star attraction at the event. Gulzar is a legend in the field of literature and has contributed widely with poems, lyrics and direction for more than 4 decades.
Apart from reading his mesmerizing poems, Gulzar spoke on a few very pertinent issues. From the classical lyrics to modern day ‘Beedi Jalie Le’, Gulzar has catered to various tastes but believes that scratching the surface, there are some very deep things being conveyed. “Language has to evolve otherwise it’ll stagnate,” he says. “This is not degradation, but only natural change,” Gulzar adds and on contemplation seems to be very true. It’s not good or bad, it’s just change- the nature of law.
Gulzar also spoke about the literature festival and their rise in the recent times. The Jaipur literature festival conducted annually has been a grand success and is now perhaps the most attended and recognized festival across Asia! Taking a cue, the Bangalore literature festival was also conducted and many such initiatives have started up to encourage more people to read and make it a part of the culture. Talking about their initiation, Gulzar feels, “Movies have started taking a more scalable model. People tend to follow Bollywood or Hollywood and as a result regional cinema hasn’t been able to thrive. Cinema can go down but the cultural roots and belonging can’t, and hence literature festivals will be in vogue.”
Literature festivals are also a place where authors can come interact with the people; it works as a feedback mechanism. "These festivals are more important for me than you guys," says Gulzar as this is the input to him, a way to test himself. The rise of the digital age was also discussed but most present felt that we still need more people to read and that is the first question. Once the culture builds and consumption becomes significant enough, then the question of the mean will come into the picture.