Jaipur Literature Festival, in quotes

Festival director William Dalrymple: Diggi Palace is packed with people. This shows: Books still matter, authors still matter.

Novelist Jonathan Franzen: “Show, don’t tell,” I was tought in the 70s and 80s. “But it is story telling, not story showing, so I unlearned this idea.”

Franzen: “We are still post-modern, but don’t call ourselves post-modern anymore, we call it post-post-modern.”

Franzen: I don’t know how a book ends when I start it. And so I hope that if I am unsure where it’s going, maybe it feels like a mystery for the reader.

Franzen: “A novelist is a man who every morning goes to his own little world and meets the people he himself created.” Franzen adds that readers never feel alone as they connect to the people in their books.

audience at Jaipur LitFest

Question on the Bollywood Nation panel: “What happened to the angry young man?” Economist and politician Meghnad Desai: “He became Arvind Kejriwal.” He will also solve every problem in twelve hours.

Bollywood actor Irrfan Khan: Sometimes the investment in a film is there, then they get an actor, but there’s no story. The actor demands: I want five action scenes and three songs. And the movie is still a success!

Khan: Some stars basically say: Come to the cinema, get some action sequences, get some songs – and see me.

Desai on social change through films: “They reach out wider and deeper to the audience than any writer or author can.”

Khan: “These are changing times in Indian cinema and society. The audience is maturing, movies are changing.” But often the cinema doesn’t reflect society, it just wants to give you a good time. “Then cinema is like a sleeping pill: chill and relax.”

Vamsee Juluri, professor of media studies and son of Tollywood star Jamuna: This cultural pastime (films) has so much power, that as a child I was often separated from my mother by a wall of fans.

Desai: Nowadays you only need to attach “Khan” to your name to get to the top in Bollywood.

Khan: Most of the stardom is about scaling down people, making them feel lesser.

Vamsee Juluri: Bollywood keeps Gandhi’s ideas alive, more than any politician.

Author Jerry Pinto: “When the government has nothing else to do than watch twitter and facebook these days, I would like to be the government. But shall the twitterati now built roads and run schools?”

Journalist Madhu Trehan: In India, “we don’t like irony, we don’t like the funnies. Just say it as it is, and if you can’t do that, then let it be.”

Director, actor and writer Mahesh Dattani: “One thing we all grew up with is hating woman: We see the man being privilegded and therefore supress the woman in us.” And if the Indians hate anything more than females, it’s the hijras (men in South Asia who adopt feminine gender roles and wear women’s clothing)., “as they defy every aspect of the masculartity we aspire”.


Aditi Maheshwari, director at the publishing house Vani Prakashan: “India may dream in Hindi, speak in Hindi, but it aspires in English.”

Sir David Cannadine, professor of history at Princeton University: In 1910, the majority of the world was ruled by empires, lead by kings and queens, today we have more than 200 republics, most of them democracies, or claim to be. There is no assurance that this will remain to be like this. “The British ruled their empire more than a thousand years, in that light the republics are a very recent phenomenon.”

Another one by Cannadine: “If you asked the British why there are so many Indian restaurants in Britain, most people wouldn’t know the answer.” – “Whereas, if you asked Indians why cricket is the national sports, most knew the answer.”

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