Kolkata: Devoid of any major literary events despite being famed as the cultural capital of the country, Kolkata will boast of two back to back literature festivals this month.
Bringing in a deluge of national and international authors like Vikram Seth, Ruskin Bond, Chetan Bhagat and Italian best-selling author Alexandro Baricco to the city, Kolkata's famous book fair will host the Kolkata Literary Meet (KLM) for the first time from January 26.
On the other hand, the third edition of the five-day Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival (AKLF) will blend literature, art, music and films from January 11 and pay tributes to iconic Pakistani poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz on his birth centenary.
Being organised by the Publishers and Booksellers Guild and Game Plan, the six-day KLM at Milon Mela grounds will also star cricketer-turned-politican Imran Khan and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.
"Kolkata is the most natural place to hold such a literary event. Despite being known for its rich cultural and intellectual heritage, Kolkata has never hosted such a large-scale festival and so we decided to initiate it," says KLM organiser Malavika Banerjee.
Imran Khan, who leads the political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, will speak on the political destiny of the neighbouring country and also discuss his latest book "Pakistan: A personal History".
Among the other Indian writers who have confirmed participation are Shashi Tharoor, Amish Tripathi (of the "Shiva" trilogy fame), Mohammed Hanif, Amit Chaudhuri and Kunal Basu.
Besides, some prominent Bengali writers like Mahasweta Devi, Sunil Gangopadhyay, Shrishendu Mukherjee, Amit Chaudhuri and Nabanita Deb Sen will also be discussing their life and works.
Pakistani author Tehmina Durrani, French writer Nicolas Wild, graphic novelist Nicholas Wilde, Scottish travel writer and essayist Kapka Kassabova, Canadian author Craig Taylor will add to the international fare being presented for bibliophiles.
KLM will also pay a tribute 19th century philosopher and spiritual leader Swami Vivekananda on his 150th birth anniversary celebrations.
Poet, lyricist and writer Gulzar will speak on the contemporary relevance of Rabindranath Tagore's works. KLM would also provide a daily dose of music and entertainment during the evenings with musician Shantanu Moitra and local bands.
Celebrated journalists like M J Akbar, Tarun Tejpal, Rajdeep Sardesai and Manu Joseph are also expected to participate and discuss the media scenario in the country.
At the Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival (AKLF), film lovers will get a unique opportunity to watch the 1958 movie "Jago Hua Savera", which has dialogues and songs by Faiz. The Pakistani communist intellectual and poet was the first Asian to receive the Lenin Peace Prize and also awarded the Lotus Prize for Literature in 1976.
"This will be the first screening of the film in India. It is especially significant because the lead actor late Tripti Mitri was from Kolkata. Personally it will be very emotional because of the connections between Lahore and Kolkata," Faiz's daughter Salima Hashmi said from Pakistan.
Also a prominent writer and painter, Salima will remember his father through his poetry and ghazals at the festival. Veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah will recite Faiz's poetry in Urdu and English, while Ustad Shujaat Khan will render his ghazals.
The festival will also host an India-China literary collaboration where the book "Tagore and China", with articles and essays on Tagore by both Chinese and Indian scholars will be launched.
Chinese author and screenwriter Bi Feiyu, who won the Man Asian Literary Prize 2010 for his book "Three Sisters" will speak on modern Chinese literature and cinema.