The Great Indian Film and Literature Festival's visit to Bhopal turned out to be an unparalleled success. Held at the grand city's JehanNuma Palace, GIFLIF was patronized enthusiastically by Bhopal's residents. Culture may be consumed on smartphones and tablets these days but this gathering was happy proof that there's still plenty of room for an old-fashioned festival, where aficionados can shoot the breeze with representatives of culture.
On the opening day, they were queuing up two hours before the start. And when Gulzar was holding forth, with a poetic sensibility and eloquence only he can summon, one hall wasn't big enough.
Present in Bhopal were stalwarts such as Gulzar, PrakashJha, Sudhir Mishra, Piyush Mishra, KiranNagarkar, and also Hindi litterateur Gopal Das Neeraj, among many other notables from the worlds of movies and books.
Over the three days, there were panel discussions, book readings, film screenings and workshops. 'Filmy Zubaan', for example, was an introduction to screenwriting, a practicum conducted by Anjum Rajabali (of 'Ghulam', 'The Legend of Bhagat Singh' and 'Raajneeti' fame). The evenings were given over for kavisammelans, mushairas (featuring the shairs of Bhopal) and some jazz.
Incidentally, Kashmir was scheduled to be the second edition of GIFLIF (formerly the Gurgaon International Film and Literature Festival, launched in December 2015) but a turbulent summer in the northern state put paid to those hopes. Still, it is very much on the radar of the organizers, who are looking at a 2017 date in J&K, while a visit to each of Kutch, Shillong and Kanyakumari is on the cards for, respectively, 2018, 2019 and 2020.
"We're looking to add one chapter every year, and take it to every corner of the country," said Amit Sinha, one of the co-founders, along with Karan Kukreja. GIFLIF, which returns in December for its second Gurgaon edition, is the brainchild of Gurgaon men Amit Sinha and Karan Kukreja, who describe the fest as "driven by passion" and "organized by commitment". The Core team is also joined by Divank Rastogi who heads Digital & Operations for GIFLIF.