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“We have a balanced and beautifully orchestrated program awaiting you, set against the loveliest Lit Fest backdrop ever” quoting festival director Malavika Banerjee when it all started on the 22nd January through the 27th of January, 2018. Kolkata book-lovers had a treat with poetry, music, film, discussions.

The session Manto – The Man, the Stories, the Film with Nandita Das and Nawazuddin Siddiqui about their biopic on Manto in conversation with Raja Sen was as interesting as the session @Republic – Laal where Subhoranjan Dasgupta led the discussion with Jogen Chowdhury, Srijato and Fuad Halim on the influence of Left Thought on art and culture in West Bengal. Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar made more than one session more that interesting. The question answer session and debates were unending with many left aside for the lack to time. On the Republic Day there was special @The Republic series which spoke about different debatable topics of which I really liked the one on ‘Is the Honesty Deficit India’s Biggest Challenge?’  Where Paroma Roy Chowdhury discussed the blight of scams with N. Ram, Sugata Bose and Pavan Varma.

The inclusion this year was Junior Kolkata Literary Meet. It was here that the international bestseller Julia Donaldson made the young readers happy. Sirshendu Mukhopadhay, Ruskin Bond and several writers were there too to speak, interact and be with young audiences. Julia Donaldson discussed ways to get children back to books and along with Ruchira Das made the time spent very fruitful.

To draw the curtain on Kalam 2018, Chanakya Chaudhary, Group Director (Corporate Communications & Regulatory Affairs) said ”Our aim has been always to engage with community in a way which will somewhere somehow touch the hearts of the people whether it is art, culture, literature, or sports”.

The closing ceremony was addressed by Shri Keshari Nath Tripathi Hon'ble Governor of West Bengal. Along with him was present Jayanta Sengupta, Secretary and curator of Victoria Memorial Hall, festival Director Malavika Banerjee also. The Governor rightly said that “a literary meet such as this one is the strongest platform to propagate the importance of literature in our lives”.

It truly was a forum which opened minds and engaged all age groups. We experienced the poetry of today with Rupi Kaur, and discussed current affairs, hashtags, sports, media all areas with famous personalilites from the different corners of the country. Quoting the Governor, “I wish Kalam every success and leave you to enjoy the fruits of this literary experience”.  Malavika Banerjee expressed her wishes to have the Governor once more next year as he was a poet too.

Though the festival was coming to a close, to engage with the public throughout the year, there was still a little something more that we all waited for. It was as if you knew there was an end but wanted to linger a little bit longer. This made Rupi Kaur’s session that followed more interesting as did the session on ‘Chronicles from the Hill’s with Ruskin Bond and Allan Sealy. The booklovers left with signed copies of the books and memories of intense interactions speaking their minds and hearts in the open space so visually stimulating as the Victoria Memorial.