Once upon a time there was a man named Aristotle. He was a great man and it is said that he could see the future. This man had said that “No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness”. And today more than 2000 years after his death, his statement has been proven to be true. For I am absolutely convinced that Aristotle had said these particular words for the organizing team of the Lucknow Literature Festival.
Much has been said about the Festival. Yes, it was a great event. Yes, it had some of the most culturally and literally renowned people as guests. The city of Lucknow was abuzz with news of the Festival and its success. Those who attended it were lucky, those who did not….well, let’s just leave it at that. The Festival was grand, fun filled, enlightening, lively, and entertaining and so on. But the event did not just magically appear and take place. And here I am going to tell you about how the event came into being.
The organizing team comprised of Mr Jayant Krishna (Chairman), Mrs Kanak Chauhan (Director), Mr Waseem Siddiqui (Program Director), Mr Vikram Rupani (Creative Director), Mrs Deepti Grover (Art Director), Mr Surjit Uppal (Finance Director), Mr Jaami Mirza (Production Director), Mr Asif Ansari (Graphic Designer), Ms Anupriya Agarwal (Associate Director) and me, also an Associate Director. Our meetings were held at Kanak Maam’s house which is the Society Office and was turned into Headquarters during the organizing days of the Festival.
Technically, the different team members were assigned various duties and jobs. Waseem and Asif Bhai took care of the creative work – the standees, flex, brandings, logo designs, backdrops etc. Deepti Di was in charge of guest management, car services and stage set up. Anupriya had to write all of the content which included guest and team profiles, programme description etc and I had to send emails to our guests and sponsors, schedule and re schedule the programme, make guest itineraries etc. And then there was Kanak Ma’am, who single handedly took care of everything mentioned above since all of it had to be approved by her. On an average, she attended about 150 phone calls per day and wrote almost the same number of emails. And Jayant Sir also had the same amount of work, if not more. All the creative work and emails and content and schedules had to be approved by him. All of this work is not easy and there were times when people would get hysterical and frantic. These were the times when Kanak Maam’s ever smiling house workers, Ram Milan and Roshan Bhaiya would be asked to make tea and coffee and sandwiches or pasta and the team would then relax for 10-15 minutes before jumping back to their “work stations”.
Jaami Bhai, apart from helping with sponsors and stalls etc, was also a guest manager. He was also the one person who would make us laugh even during problematic times. His poker faced jokes and one liners would have us all in splits and they were much needed during the hectic days of organising the Festival.
Yashwant, Kanak Aunty’s son, who was in the middle of his pre board exams would also sit with us and send mails or just generally give inputs. He was often scolded for not studying. But I don’t blame him. With all the action taking place at his house, how could he not want to be a part of it?
I have to add that Waseem Bhaiya was our “go – to person” for everything. He was our problem solver and all of us bombarded him with phone calls and emails asking him to do a little bit of this and that. He is also the brains behind our official website and he made sure that it was all in perfect order. I also have to mention the herculean task that Deepti Di had taken upon her shoulders of arranging cars for all our guests and making sure that they reached the airport and hotel and back to the venue on time.It might sound easy but when one gets down to doing it one realizes what a strenuous task it can be. No one could have managed it like she did.
The volunteer meeting that we organised had about 60 young volunteers gathered at Headquarters and were very ably managed by Oshika and Danish. They also managed the volunteers during the event.
And then there were the hiccups or bumps on the way. Things not getting done in time. Guests confirming or cancelling their programmes. Tickets being cancelled and booked and cancelled again. There were some people who tried to sabotage the entire event and who even wrote to Dr APJ Kalam, asking him not to attend the Festival. But in the end we were triumphant. Our hard work, team spirit, dedication and the continuous guidance and support of our mentors and Jayant Sir and Kanak Aunty, paid off. The city of Lucknow celebrated literature with us in the grandest of ways.
The three day event was successful beyond our imaginations. Approximately 10,000 people came to the Festival on all three days. The cultural evenings were an instant hit and the day sessions were equally enthralling. The public was happy, our guests and panelists were happy and so we were happy.
We will be back again next year with the second edition of the festival. And it will be bigger than before and will be organised by us with even more enthusiasm, dedication and of course madness. We are after all, people with great minds! Even Aristotle would agree to it. I am certain that he would.