There was much more than book talk at the Kerala Literature Festival held at Kozhikode from February 2 to 5. It was a cultural feast. Its sweep was breathtaking.
From morning till late evening, all the four KLF venues on the beach were agog with activity. Three forums, named Ezhuthola (Scroll), Aksharam (Letter) and Thoolika (Pen), witnessed kaleidoscopic changes as one set of writers and activists stepped aside after discussing a subject for 90 minutes and another set stepped in to discuss another subject, possibly before another audience as there was constant shuffling of listeners.
There were panel discussions, face-to-face encounters and intimate chats.
Apart from the leading lights of Malayalam literature, new-generation writers who are currently making waves by exploring new areas employing new techniques also participated in the discussions.
KLF was not about Malayalam writing alone. The presence of Indian writers in English and writers in other Indian and European languages presented interested persons with a rare opportunity to acquaint themselves with literary developments elsewhere too.
One venue, named Vellithira (Silver Screen), was devoted exclusively to films. It witnessed continuous screening of films, long and short, curated by C. S. Venkiteshwaran.
The rich fare included tribal dances and a shehnai recital by the legendary Ustad Bismillah Khan’s grandson, Nasir Abbas Khan.
KLF ventured beyond the worlds of literature, arts and culture and covered several issues of contemporary relevance such as Gender, Caste, Religion and Democracy.
According to Ravi Deecee, Chief Facilitator of KLF and Secretary of the DC Kizhakemuri Foundation, organizers of KLF, more than 300 writers from India and abroad participated in the discussions on about 120 topics. He avers that wide participation by writers and diversity of topics of discussion make KLF India’s largest literary festival.
Bindu Amat in conversation with Norwegian writer Runo Isaksen
This year’s was KLF’s second edition. K. Satchidanandan, Director of KLF, said it was organized drawing inspiration from the success of KLF1 and learning lessons from its weaknesses.
No body in Kerala perhaps has better credentials than the DC establishment to organize an event of this magnitude. And no person perhaps has better credentials than Satchidanandan to head the effort. And certainly no place has better credentials than Kozhikode to host such an event.
The ultimate credit for the success of KLF belongs to the people of Kozhikode who made the festival their own. Its leading citizens were part of the organizing committee, and a large number of students volunteered their services to make it a grand success.
A view of the audience at one of the four venues
Enthusiastic people moved from one venue to another to become part of the events that interested them most. There was so much on offer that I doubt if anyone went away without the feeling that they could not attend every event that interested them because of time constraints and overlap of events.
There are unmistakable signs of rot spreading in Kerala society. KLF will do well to explore the social scene more deeply in the coming editions.