Bangalore is the right place to focus on Indian languages, says Gulzar
Why yet another literary festival when there are ever so many already?
Gulzar — the much-loved poet, filmmaker and the man with clearly the biggest fan following at the three-day Bangalore Literature Festival that opened on Friday — had the answer: because the festival is in Bangalore and the city has a linguistic character uniquely its own.
“It is the core place for all South Indian languages… A festival like this should have started much earlier here,” said Gulzar, speaking at the launch of the festival on the sprawling laws of Jayamahal Palace Hotel, teeming with starry-eyed literature fans. “Bangalore is the right place to focus on Indian languages.”
Indeed, there was no missing the bonhomie between Indian language and English writers at the main pandal. The inaugural stage was shared by Gulzar, Bangalore’s own English writer Shashi Deshpande, and three bigwigs of Kannada literature: U.R. Ananthamurthy, Chandrashekar Kambar and Nisar Ahmed. BLF, said Nisar, is building bridges between people and languages that have remained “islands” for too long. Bangalore can showcase two languages on an equal footing, said Shashi Deshpande. She added in jest that Kannada writers should indulge the “brashness” of “young” English writing, which will mature given the time.
Gulzar let the gathering on to a personal secret on why he thought Bangalore was the best place for a litfest. “In the Fifties and Sixties, I wrote all my film scripts in Room No. 50 at West End Hotel,” he smiled. “It has always been a place that inspired me to write!”