Well-known humourist-author, Rachna, gives us an insider’s view into the recently concluded two-day Bangalore Literary Festival (BLF) 2016. Her first session was a stand-up inspired by her new release, ‘Band, Bajaa, Boys!’ She had picked anecdotes from life in Allahabad and woven them into an interactive narrative. The audience was simply wonderful – the more they laughed, the more encouraged was she to bring out the unbridled ‘Illahabadi’ in me. “What followed after the session was phenomenal – a queue of people with copies of my book descended upon me, pushing me into the water dispenser. It was like I have died and gone to heaven – the kind of heaven where authors are worshipped (and editors and evil publishers are offered to them as human sacrifice).” With Sashi Tharoor, Chetan Bhagat, Anand Neelkantan and Shatrughana Sinha, the celebrity studded festival was a huge success. Here’s a report, sprinkled with humour that would make you smile, exclusively for Different Truths.
Stacks of intellectual goodies. Stir-fried noodles. Brilliant writers. Gracious audience. Drool-drool Tharoor. A roomful of gorgeous books. Aakar (sigh!) Patel. Fiery panel discussions. And an endless release of Dopamine. That was BLF 2016 for me!
It began the way all things begin in Bangalore – long drive to the venue – Hotel Royal Orchid. By the time I reached, the lawns were already splitting at their seams since Chetan ‘crowd-puller’ Bhagat was in action on the stage. The lobby was abuzz with volunteers who handed me the thoughtfully-packed Atta Galatta goodie bag and my ‘speaker’ badge that gave me access to the hallowed Authors’ Lounge and free lunch on the rooftop.
My first session was a stand-up inspired by my new release, ‘Band, Bajaa, Boys!’ I had picked anecdotes from life in Allahabad and woven them into an interactive narrative. The audience was simply wonderful – the more they laughed, the more encouraged I was to bring out the unbridled ‘Illahabadi’ in me. What followed after the session was phenomenal – a queue of people with copies of my book descended upon me, pushing me into the water dispenser. It was like I have died and gone to heaven – the kind of heaven where authors are worshipped (and editors and evil publishers are offered to them as human sacrifice). In the hour that followed, ‘Band, Baaja, Boys!’ was sold out.
After a hearty lunch that merited a post-lunch nap, I had to splash my face and head for my next session – a tete-a- tete with Anand Neelkantan. The session went just like the noon was – warm, sunny, and exciting. Anand talked about why he chose to be the ‘counter-teller’ of mythology. The bad guys are the bad guys because someone has viewed them thus, he believes. If they had written the stories, maybe they’d be the good guys. The audience was a peach – so interactive and engaged.
On Day Two, I was part of a panel discussion with some wonderful women authors. It was called ‘Badass Women Changing the World’. Full of thoughtful perspectives, funny insights and tongue-in- cheek quips, it was a party on the stage. We concurred that ‘badass’ is a state of mind, living life on your terms and conquering your own demons.
The evening was high voltage – Rajiv Malhotra talking about the ‘Great Indian Narrative’, a panel with some of the best, inventive minds of India spilling out ‘Contrarian Views’ and Shatrughan ‘Khamosh’ Sinha entertaining the audience.
Two days, 80+ hours of programming across five venues, 15,000+ footfalls, 100+ authors and speakers, a host of stimulating and exciting conversations on stage and off it, some outstanding performances – it was such an amazing festival. And I can proudly say, I was there!
Photos sourced by the author.
Rachna is one of India’s leading Organizational Development and Gamification experts and has consulted with leading organizations extensively within the country and outside. She has worked with Tata Motors, Infosys and Dell Computers. She writes in the areas of humour, love and organizational development. Rachna is currently writing a tongue-in-cheek diary on her battle with cancer and counselling those grappling with the big C. Rachna’s humorous debut novel, ‘Dating, Diapers and Denial’ remained on the bestseller stands for over a year.