Of Poetry, Revolution, and Films: Day 4 at the Jaipur Lit Fest
Though belonging to completely separate sensibilities and temperaments, it is rather fascinating that these two verses have been written by the same man. And if there can be a living embodiment of versatility, it has to be him. Yes, I am referring to the inimitable Gulzar.
On day 4 of the Jaipur Literary Festival, we were gifted a morning dipped in delectable poetry, thanks to Gulzar sahab. The poet, lyricist, screenwriter, short story writer and filmmaker commanded the largest audience in the festival, at a session with Pawan K Varma.
Gulzar’s poetry inhabits many moods – it moves from the lucid, to the acerbic, from the everyday to the historical, from the personal to the political.
No one, and I insist, no one can write about the bane of organised politics with such casual brilliance. As the front lawns of Diggi Palace (the festival venue) got drenched in lucent verses, a sombre Gulzar captivated the audience.
New Books on Old Bollywood
In a session titled Jaane Kahan Gaye Who Din: New Books on old Bollywood, authors Jai Arjun Singh and Rauf Ahmed spoke about their books – Singh’s The World of Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Ahmed’s Shammi Kapoor: The Game Changer.
Ahmed shared highlights from the charismatic actor’s career, and emphasised that Kapoor was never the macho hero, yet captivated the hearts of a huge number of women.
While talking about filmmaker Rishikesh Mukherjee, Singh mentioned one of his technicians who ended of living in stark poverty at the end of his life. He went on to talk about this phenomenon in the Hindi film industry where a lot of technicians never received their due recognition, and ended up living in extreme hardship.
“This is the spring time, but not in time’s covenant.”
In 2011, a series of democratic uprisings rocked the Arab world – Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Bahrain, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. The Tunisian Revolution, or Jasmine Revolution, began on 17 December, 2010 after Mohammed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old Tunisian man, set himself on fire in front of a local municipal office.
According to Al Jazeera, earlier that day, Tunisian police confiscated his cart and beat him because he did not have a permit. He went to the municipal office to file a complaint, where workers there ignored him. Bouazizi then set himself on fire.
Following the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia, Egyptian activists organised a demonstration on 25 Janaury, Egypt’s Police Day, to protest the Emergency Law, unemployment, poverty and Hosni Mubarak’s government.
The uprising in Libya instantly became violent when the Libyan government reacted harshly towards peaceful protests. On 18 February, three days after the protests began, the country erupted into an armed conflict when protesters executed policemen and men loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi for killing protesters.
Protests Broke the Chains of Fear
The protests in Jordan differ from Tunisia and Egypt because they don’t want to oust their monarch, much of the dissent is centered on economic issues such as the deficit and inflation. The protests for democracy, influenced by other regional upheavals, erupted in Bahrain on 14 February. The movement, like many others, began online. Almost 30 people were killed since the beginning of the protests.
Along with popular protests from neighbouring countries, Palestinian youth and supporters called for a protest against Israeli. Protests began on the borders Israel shares with Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Gaza and the West Bank. Similar to Jordan, protests in Saudi Arabia are directed towards more freedoms than ousting the monarchy.
Protests in Syria, though on a small scale, faced harsh retaliations from the government. The protest began in January after another young man lit himself on fire and groups began organising on social media sites.
In a scintillating session involving Mona Eltahawy, Sulaiman Addonia, Vali Nasr, Omar Barghouti and Laleh Kahlilli, the panelists spoke of the historical importance of the Arab Spring, and observed that it is rather unproductive to question whether it was successful or not. The spring metaphor is about fertility, and the protests broke the chains of fear among the masses.