The Mathrubhumi International Festival Of Letters 2019

India is a vibrant country, steeped heavily in arts and culture that are so varied that it may be the only country in the world with such rich variety. Indian literature is again as speckled and profound with its multitudes of languages and each of it making its definitive marks. Be it Sanskrit, Urdu, Hindi, Tamil, Marathi, Telegu, Malayalam or even the universal English, India, has a huge repertoire of language literature, which again I feel is a sure first in the world.

Indian art and literature is very well blended with each other and the culture of the nation is very much an interwoven inherent component of both. Literary festivals are making big waves in India and fast gaining popularity for their host of world-renowned authors holding interactive sessions with large bibliophile audience, major book signing events and for the distinctive assortment of art events. The Jaipur Literature Festival, The Times Literature Festival, The Hindu Literature Festival, Mumbai International Literature Festival are some of the major literary festivals of the country. However, literature festivals happening in Kerala is fairly new when compared to other states, making it very memorable.

The Mesmerizing Poothan Thira
Dr.Shashi Tharoor interacting With The Audience


Malayalam literature is very profound and brilliant, thanks to the abundance of some beautiful prose and poetry by amazing writers and more for the increasing number of readers in the state, who continually inspire the writers to write more. And it was indeed most delightful when Mathrubhumi, one of the state’s pioneer newspapers since 1923, decided to organize a literary fest - a much-needed requirement for most bibliophiles of the state. Two years into the fare, the festival is definitely a winner. The Mathrubhumi International Festival of Letters, held at the lush green spread of the famous Kanakakunnu Palace, located in the capital city of Trivandrum this year had as many as 300 renowned authors and speakers from across the world. The four-day fest is supposedly rated to be one of the biggest in South India.

The Malayalam Letter ‘KA’- The Appeasing Logo Of MBIFL

The Malayalam letter ‘Ka’, carved a niche for itself for getting chosen to be the standalone logo of the festival. As per the organizers of the festival, every letter sparks an abundance of human imagination. The letter ‘KA’ is a wide canvas unveiling a potpourri of many such thoughts- be it the experiences-the good, sad or the bad or the medley of words framed from it. The organizers really crafted out a wonder alphabet from the regional language enticing literary lovers to explore more of the possibilities with the letter.

The Speakers of MBIFL

The speakers at MBIFL were a heterogeneous mix of the very famous; from actors to writers (fiction and non-fiction), to eminent dancers and musicians, the fest was a feast of enlightening talks and art followed by other connected literary events. Dr.Shasi Tharoor- writer and Member of Parliament, Journalists- Anil Dharker, Satish Padmanaban, Swapan Dasgupta, fiction authors- Preeti Shenoy, Anita Nair, Daman Singh, Elizabeth Heynes, Mridulika Liddle were among the reputed plethora of speakers. This year, the main theme of the festival was “Known Lands. Unheard Voices- Confluence of Ideas, Transcending Borders”. The festival turned out to be the right platform to introduce some amazing writers making their mark from across the borders of different countries- some of them raising voices against the political turbulence in their land. The keynote speakers among them were the Iraqi novelist- Shahad Al Rawi and journalist and author- Joumana Haddad, the two women who are among the ‘100 Powerful Arab Women List’. The Sri Lankan writer Shyam SelvaDurai, Sumeet Samos – writer, a rapper from the Dalit clan in Odisha and Yogesh Maitreya- poet, were some of the other speakers under the theme category.

Glimpses from the event ...

Renowned artists Dr. PadmaSubramaniam (Bharathanatyam), Methil Devika (Mohiniyattom), Ashwathy Nair (Mohiniyattom), Malayalam actors Innocent, Nedumudi Venu, were some of the other well-known artist speakers of the fest.

MBIFL was interlaced with plenty of dance and music. The traditional art forms of the Malabar region like Theyyam, Puli Kali (Tiger-Hunter Dance), Kathakali andPoothan Thirawere an intrinsic part of the four-day fest. The Morning Raga- a bouquet of scintillating rendition of musical instruments by various artists and Sopana Sangeetham were curtain raisers to each day at the fest. Rajasthan folksingers inundated the palace grounds rendering some of their most melodious folk songs on all four days at various intervals. And each evening popular musical bands harped their popular numbers for the audience. The bands Oorali Express, Agam and Thaikoodam Bridge, transported literary lovers to a different altitude altogether.

Author Anand Neelakantan with His Malayalam  Fuction
Dr Padma Subramaniam After Her Enlightening Talk


The Mathrubhumi group could not have chosen a better venue than the verdant palace grounds for the literature festival. A huge banyan tree and a small bamboo grove were beautifully converted to hold book discussions, conversations, author interactions and book readings under the beguiling titles, ‘Under The Tree’ and ‘The Bamboo Grove’ respectively. The thick spread of leaves provided the perfect shade to book lovers from the harsh rays of the sun. Another shady tree spot had the picture-perfect setting for poetry discussions and book readings and was captivatingly titled “The Poet-tree”. 

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The MBIFL was on a ‘Go Green’ protocol this year, sizably reducing usage of plastics within the festival premises. A big applause to the organizers for implementing the ‘Go-Green’ endeavor, a much-needed requirement of the day.

The 2020 MBIFL is slated for January next year…. And the bibliophile and the art aficionado in me is eagerly awaiting it…Team Salabhanjika wishes MBIFL all the best for an even more fantastic podium next year.

PS: I don’t think you need to perfect it any better but still...

Courtesy : #MBIFL and Mathrubhumi

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