23 January, Monday
10-11 a.m. | Front Lawn | Indian Films and the National Narrative Rachel Dwyer, Imtiaz Ali, Javed Akhtar and Sudhir Mishra in conversation with Shubhra Gupta
Indian cinema and Bollywood is a key cultural signifier reflecting the social, political and economic dynamics of a diverse country. A stimulating session that deconstructs the mass and manufactured dreams of India and the sense of nationhood they denote. Writer and journalist Imtiaz Ali; poet, lyricist, screenwriter and Padma Bhushan awardee Javed Akhtar; professor of Indian cultures and cinema Rachel Dwyer; and film director Sudhir Mishra in conversation with director and author Shubhra Gupta whose new book 50 Films That Changed Bollywood.
11.15-12.15 p.m. | Front Lawn | Neelima Dalmia Adhar and Vera Hildebrand in conversation with Salil Tripathi
The Secret Diary of Kasturba by Neelima Dalmia Adhar examines through the fictional lens the troubled life choices thrust upon Kasturba Gandhi by the Mahatma. In Women at War, Vera Hildebrand resurrects the forgotten voices of Subhas Chandra Bose’s famed Rani of Jhansi regiment. In a session that retrieves female narratives from lingering silences, Adhar and Hildebrand speak of the buried lives of their protagonists.
11.15-12.15 p.m. | Cox & Kings Charbagh | The Girl with Seven Names | Hyeonseo Lee introduced by Anita Anand
An extraordinary insight into life under one of the world’s most ruthless and secretive dictatorships and the story of one woman’s terrifying struggle to avoid capture and guide her family to freedom. As a child growing up in North Korea, Hyeonseo Lee was one of millions trapped by a brutal communist regime. Her home on the border with China gave her some exposure to the world beyond the confines of the Hermit Kingdom and, as the famine of the 1990s struck, she began to wonder, question and realize that she had been brainwashed her entire life.
Aged 17, she decided to escape North Korea. It would take 12 years before she was reunited with her family. She could not return as rumours of her escape were spreading. Lee instead remained in China and rapidly learned Chinese in an effort to adapt and survive. Twelve years and two lifetimes later, she would return to the North Korean border in a daring mission to spirit her mother and brother to South Korea on one of the most dangerous journeys imaginable. Lee tells the unique story not only of her escape from the darkness into the light but also of her coming of age, education and the resolve she found to rebuild her life. Strong, brave and eloquent, this is a story of the triumph of the human spirit.
12.30-1.30 p.m. | Cox & Kings Charbagh | Footloose: The Travel Session | Aarathi Prasad, Bee Rowlatt, Brigid Keenan, Nidhi Dugar and Simon Winchester in conversation with William Dalrymple
Travel Writing is one of the most ancient forms of literature but does it have any relevance in the age of the Internet, globalization and Google Maps? Travel writers Aarathi Prasad, Bee Rowlatt, Brigid Keenan, Nidhi Dugar and Simon Winchester discuss the genre and read from their work with William Dalrymple.
12.30-1.30 p.m. | Durbar Hall | Himal: The Rage of Nature | Kanak Mani Dixit, Kunga Tenzin Dorji and Pushpesh Pant in conversation with Hridayesh Joshi
The Kedarnath tragedy after the disastrous floods of 2013 exposed the grim realities of fragile Himalayan ecosystems. Followed by the devastating forest fires of the summer of 2016, the telling signs of environmental catastrophe are clear for all to see. A session that discusses the impact of climate change and unsustainable development on the Himalayas. Hridayesh Joshi, author of Rage of the River, in conversation with Kanak Mani Dixit, Kunga Tenzin Dorji and Pushpesh Pant.
Hridayesh Joshi is senior editor (National Affairs) with NDTV India. He has consistently covered the armed conflict between the Maoists and the Indian state. In 2012, Hridayesh was given the prestigious Ramnath Goenka Award for reporting from war zones of central India. His first book, Tum Chup Kyun Rahe Kedar, is his reportage on the Uttarakhand tragedy.
1.40-2.20 p.m. | Baithak | Poetry and Politics in Mughal India | T.C.A Raghavan in conversation with Audrey Truschke
Spanning the reigns of four emperors, T.C.A. Raghavan’s book Attendant Lords tells of Bairam Khan and his son Abdur Rahim Khan-I-Khana. Abdur Rahim became one of the most important generals of the Mogul empire but is best remembered for his literary prowess and dohas. Audrey Truschke, author of Culture of Encounters: Sanskrit at the Mughal Court and Aurangzeb in conversation with T.C.A. Raghavan on the lives of these two noblemen and the role of history, religion and literature as well as the confluence and overlap of cultures, in this most vibrant of times.