Hyderabad Lit Fest to be virtual


The 2021 edition of the annual Hyderabad Literary Festival (HLF), which is scheduled to be held from January 22 to 24, will be completely virtual.

In December, the Bangalore Literature Festival opted to have authors at the venue and live stream the sessions, and the forthcoming Jaipur Literature Festival 2021 is also poised to be a virtual one.

Amitav Ghosh, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Devdutt Pattanaik, Aakash Singh, Devaki Jain, Harsh Mander, Parmesh Shahani, NK Singh and Kobad Ghandy are among the authors who will be participating.

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The four directors of HLF – professor T. Vijay Kumar, Amita Desai of Goethe Zentrum, Kinnera Murthy of Moving Images film club, and Ajay Gandhi of the public discourse forum Manthan — have all been actively engaging in virtual sessions in their respective streams of work. The HLF hosted several virtual sessions with authors during the pandemic, and hence, moving towards a completely virtual HLF 2021 was a natural progression.

Each January, the HLF welcomes visitors to engage with authors and partake in interactive workshops and exhibitions for three days; there’s something for every age group. The vibrancy of a lit fest where one forges new friendships or engages in debates might be tough to replicate online, but the HLF directors are confident that there will be enough to engage the curious mind.

The popular segments of HLF such as Stage Talks, Nanha Nukkad for young children, Kavya Dhaara or storytelling, cultural events and art exhibitions will all be held online.

The final list of workshops and stage talks is being chalked out and registrations will be open on the HLF website (hydlitfest.org) soon. Workshops will require registration while other sessions will be open to everyone.

Expect interactive virtual art exhibitions where you can zoom in and out, and get a walk-through experience. Cultural programmes are likely to be a mix of pre-recorded shows, live streams and a hybrid where someone anchors a recorded show.

The virtual edition has made it relatively easier to get delegates on board, since the logistics of travel and accommodation are done away with. Amita cites the example of dancer Aditi Mangaldas who will be participating in a Stage Talk from Germany: “She has been working on a new project and will be interspersing her talk with visual clips.”

Amita admits it is a challenge to create a virtual fest that will provide creative and intellectual engagement like a real-time fest, but is eager to see how things go. There will be fewer sessions though, unlike the real-time edition.

Anyone who has been to the HLF would be aware of parallel sessions held in different pavilions, adding up to 100 or more in three days. In a digital set-up, the number of sessions will be limited so as to have focused audience and to avoid digital fatigue.

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