Literary food for the soul | Karachi Literature Festival

Earlier this month, 8th Karachi Literature Festival took place in Beach Luxury, Karachi with full swing. 75 sessions and 200 speakers/performers were featured over a course of 3 days of KLF. Author Signings, Book Readings, Art Exhibition, Book Stalls & Panel Discussions & Food – it was a bunch of planned activities to kept the audience interested.

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I got to attend KLF on the 2nd day. One thing I noticed upon entering the main area inside the hotel was too small for such a large crowd. Last year the attendance rose to around 175,000 as compared to the 1st KLF which was merely 5,000. This shows how Karachiites crave for some entertaining & engaging events and what’s better than the love of reading?! There were 2 sessions which I attended.

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The first session was “Fiction: The World Over” in which authors read excerpts from their books. I reached a little late but I caught the session on time. The authors were Bina Shah, Andrea Berrini, Mirza Waheed, Ibrahim Waheed Ogaru & Paul Veyret. I sat there for a while trying to enjoy it while the music in the background from alfresco was trying to distract. Turns out, I am not the only one who got distracted. Bina Shah stopped reading & announced with an accent – oh I meant annoyance!

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Anyway so while the audience was confused, we (my and A’esha) decided to go attend the session “Phool aur Shabnam”. This session was taking place in the open area and the entire area was jam packed. Bushra Ansari was trying to crack jokes with the audience as Shabnam got late in the traffic. Although I like her personality but sometimes she really goes overboard. They should have opted for a more humble person to be the host. Shabnam is a star and loved by many, I think she should be given the due respect and it is counted as indecent if the host crosses the boundaries and makes the other person uncomfortable. But that’s just my personal opinion! The session involved reminiscing about the old Pakistani classics and the ever green pairing of “Shabnam & Nadeem” in numerous old hits from Pakistani Cinema.

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Second session we attended was “Zara Hut Kay” – yes, the talk show which is aired on Dawn during weeknights. The session was exactly the same as it goes online – just the more better uncut version of satire, humor & wit! Zarrar Khuhro, Mubashir Zaidi & Wusut Ullah Khan took the stage while Nadeem F. Paracha joined as a moderator for the session. Aquarius Hall, where the session was taking place, was packed like bees around a honey pot. We got right on time and forget the seats, we could hardly got space to stand. Luckily, we moved to the stage area and sat right there on floor lol. Some more people followed the lead and then the session started.

Needless to say, there was lots of laughter throughout the session while we also contemplated on how impatient the society has become and how 60s/70s was a golden era to live. Then all of a sudden, during the session, Zarrar got up to take a selfie with the audience so he could show his family the turn-out. I really enjoyed this session and I am glad I attended it. It was emphasized on how we need to speak up more and be responsible. Sometimes satire/humor is the best way to express yourself. Wusut Ullah Khan of the same view that you could deliver the harshest of truth in the form of satire. No wonder the show is loved by many!

Next we went to the food area, because lets face it. Soul isn’t the only thing which needs feeding lol. Yet again, this area was very congested but there were tables and chairs (thank God). We waited for a while after getting our food, filled our tummies while discussing the last session. Overall, I believe KLF is one of the most anticipated events of the year & it truly is remarkable to bring together so many authors, performers & bibliophiles. I really wish the organizers find a large capacity area next time because the way I see it, this crowd would only increase. I think we really crave for such festivals because “Eating Out” & “Going for Movies” aren’t the only entertaining factors in life. Every year I go to different book expos and I really feel these literary festivals/expos should take place at least twice a year. One thing I like about this Literature Festival is that they also visit Lahore & Islamabad. So let’s hope they also reach out to more cities & spread the love of reading & writing. 🙂

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