Slugfests and monologues at a lit fest

On a sparring bout with Rajdeep Sardesai, session on Saadat Hasan Manto with Javed Akhtar and more at the Times LitFest: Aakar Patel in Mint

And so off to Mumbai for the Times LitFest, that annual intellectual orgy put up by friends Bachi Karkaria and Namita Devidayal in Bandra and so looked forward to by this layabout. My first scrum was with Rajeev Sethi and Sunil Sethi for a session with the delightfully vague name “The Good, The Mediocre And The Downright Ugly”. I presumed it was about why India is such a shitty place but wasn’t really sure, and had no idea what the other two combatants had made of the thing. No matter, we threw ourselves into it.

Me starting proceedings by setting off a rant on my usual—Babur’s observations on India’s lack of beauty then, why we took no notice of the ugliness around us now and so on. And on. Mint Lounge readers will need no reminding. Sethi (Rajeev) was mostly above the fray. He spoke, calmly and softly, of Sufism and of rasa. Sethi (Sunil) spoke, eloquently, about a recently published book of paintings and how Curzonian intervention had destroyed the Taj Mahal. Someone brought up Urdu poetry, politics, art in airports, rice cultivation in Japan and the population explosion. What were we on about? From fanfare to coda, the tune was impossible to tell.

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