Cyclone Bulbul’s entourage includes copious amounts of rainfall wherever it passes, as well as advance delegations that drenched the entire venue of the Dhaka Literature Festival, the sprawling grounds of Bangla Academy.
However, no amount of Bulbul’s ambassadors of gloom could dampen the Dhaka book lovers’ enthusiasm for their dose of literary fix, at an event that after 9 years can truly claim to have won its place in people’s hearts.
The morning session started with spiritual Bhajan-Kirtan songs at the lawn, and a great bunch of discussion seminars covering topics such as African experience of Jeffrey Jettleman with Dhaka Tribune’s Editor Zafar Sobhan; celebrating 2019 as the year of indigenous languages by Raja Devasish Roy With Muktasree Chakma; ‘Power of Pictures’ by Fahim Anzoom and Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy with Abrar Athar and one of the most anticipated discussions titled ‘Bangabandhu in his own words’ by renowned educationist Dr Fakrul Alam, Mahrukh Mohiuddin and Shamsuzzaman Khan with Rashid Askari.
‘India Against Itself’ was another special attraction seminar of this year’s DLF, where Shashi Tharoor, the former foreign affairs minister of India, talked about how the most powerful and economically strong country of Southeast Asia contradicted its own views on several aspects and themes, from time to time. C R Abrar moderated the session.
Australian-Pakistani hip-hop artist Zohab Zee Khan, who had tantalised the audiences of this year’s DLF through his energetic aesthetics, attended Malaysian journalist Sharad Kuttan's session on 'Imagine' on the third and final day of Dhaka Lit Fest 2019. Zohab spoke about his childhood and entry into hip-hop genre, “My journey was never easy.”
He also mentioned about criticisms he faced socially and religiously for his love for poetry and art performance. However, he dismissed those and encouraged the audience to pursue their dreams and said the key to success is hard work, routine life and most-important of them all - self confidence.
In a session titled 'Art of Conversation' taken place at the AKSB Auditorium in afternoon, where the three-directors and co-founders of this year’s DLF Saadaf Saaz, Ahsan Akbar and K Anis Ahmed said that the essence of a show depends largely on the moderator.
"The host must be outspoken, have prior experience in the subject and most importantly the research skills," he said.
Sadaf Saaz said, “For good coordination a conductor should read relevant materials. The quality of collecting the information about the subject makes a host much more efficient.” She also suggested focusing on the specifics during the discussion to make it livelier.
Ahsan Akbar said a moderator must listen closely to the guests. He recommended speaking to the invited guest a few minutes earlier to ease things up.
Discussing the role of doctrine in larger life, a panel consisting of writer Michael Dwyer, Kenan Malik, sociologist Seuty Sabur and journalist Thomas Roueche spoke about generating new ideas and reimagining the older ones alongside their effect on the followers. The session was moderated by Joseph Alchin, author of the widely read book 'Men's Rivers and One Sea'.
Publisher Michael Dwyer said, “I try to book almost all humanitarian doctrines. I try to simplify the views; Sometimes in comic form, sometimes through story books. It is easily accessible to people of all ages.”
As part of 'Celebrating the Year of Indigenous Languages', a session had Chakma King Debashish Roy with researcher Muktashree Chakma where he spoke about representation of indigenous people. He said formation of a language neutral race is needed while speaking at the Bangla Academy's poet Shamsur Rahman Seminar room. The Chakma King urged all stakeholders to step forward in ending the linguistic discriminations to all indigenous communities.
One of the most loved segments of the closing day and perhaps in this year’s Lit Fest, Bangladeshi respected dramatists and real life couple Ferdousi Majumder and Ramendu Majumder shared their secrecy of being happily married in the session ‘Moncher Juti, Jiboner Juti’ at the AKSB auditorium, UNB reports.
“Our families were different, religion was different, identity was different - yet we managed to get fallen in love with each other. We have always felt extremely fortunate as our families agreed on the marriage; however the hardships presented in the society were not so easy to pass through. It was never easy, but not impossible either” – the couple expressed the situations they faced during the ages of love-letters.
They narrated their entire journey of togetherness on the event, recited few dialogues from one of their stage collaborations, discussed their timeline and situations; and their daughter Tropa Majumdar, another prominent theatre activist in Bangladesh, said that the best secret of her parents’ togetherness had always been one particular term- ‘mutual respect’, towards each other.
As the progressive developing nation, Bangladesh needs its future generation to get prepared for pursuing challenges by being properly educated. Five of the amazing, young Bangladeshis who had been dedicatedly working in this particular sector - Maimuna Ahmad, who introduced the globally acclaimed educational organisation Teach For Bangladesh in the country; Anir Chowdhury, who is the Policy Advisor of the a2i Program of the Government of Bangladesh; BRAC’s executive director Asif Saleh; Sumana Biswas, who is working as the head teacher at Nalonda High School (A Culturally Integrated Education Program of Chhayanaut); and JAAGO Foundation’s founder and executive director Korvi Rakshand - discussed the problems and possible solutions to cleanse up the problems in the country's educational sector.
As it was announced that notable Indian-Bengali writer Shankar, who was the closing guest at this year’s DLF, was unable to fulfil his commitment to be present at the concluding ceremony due to his illness- the closing saw a tremendous poetic performance of Tishani Doshi, an award-winning Indian poet, novelist and dancer.
Dhaka Tribune’s editor Zafar Sobhan, City Bank’s managing director Mashrur Arefin, Bangla Academy’s director general Habibullah Siraji, professor of Indian Cultures and Cinema at SOAS, University of London Rachel Dwyer and DLF’s co-founder and director Saadaf Saaz spoke at the closing ceremony and expressed their heartfelt thanks to the attendees at this year’s Dhaka Lit Fest- with the hope to return this literary extravaganza on an even bigger margin next year, which is going to be themed and dedicated on the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.