x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Big names from the subcontinent

The Indian Pavilion boasts a formidable line-up of stars and speakers, including Kamal Haasan and the former Indian president APJ Abdul Kalam, plus hundreds of best-selling titles.

The actor Kamal Haasan. AFP Photo
The actor Kamal Haasan. AFP Photo

The former Indian president Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, the south Indian superstar Kamal Haasan, the Malayalam filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan and the children’s author Ruskin Bond – the star line-up at the Indian Pavilion at this year’s Sharjah International Book Fair is surely a crowd-puller, and not just for the wide range of books on offer.

The most high-profile guest is Kalam, a recipient of the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award. Popularly known as India’s “Missile Man”, Kalam has written several books, including Ignited Minds and Wings of Fire, and will address the public on Thursday. He will also be part of a seminar the same morning titled The Birth of an Author in You, where he will speak along with noted names such as Marcus Sedgwick, Rana Dasgupta, Vikram Chandra and Ravi Deecee.

The south Indian filmmaker Haasan marks 54 years in cinema this year. Hear him in conversation on the occasion of 100 years of Indian cinema on November 14. Also appearing at the fair are the Bollywood actors Deepti Naval and Farooq Sheikh, best known for their work in Hindi films in the 1980s, including Chashme Buddoor and Saath Saath. Witness their chemistry again as Sheikh quizzes Naval about turning author and poet, with works such as Lamha Lamha and The Mad Tibetan.

Children absolutely love his tiger tales and Ruskin Bond will be at the fair on Sunday. Now 79, Bond wrote his first novel The Room on the Roof when he was just 17 – it won the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize in 1957. Having written several novellas and more than 500 short stories, he is one of the most admired chroniclers of contemporary India.

Ravinder Singh is India’s current best-selling romantic author. Singh’s first book, I Too Had A Love Story, was published in 2008 and is still one of the top-selling books. A trained software engineer with four books to his name, Singh tends to get mobbed by his female fans. Hear his story on November 11.

The Internationally acclaimed filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan is the recipient of 16 National Awards, the British Film Institute Award in 1981 and India’s highest cinema honour, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award. He has played a key role in revolutionising Kerala’s ­cinema. He will be at the fair on ­Saturday.

Keeping in mind the large Keralite expatriate community in the UAE, the Indian Pavilion is hosting a seminar titled Celebrating the Proud Status of Malayalam as a Classical Language on Friday, featuring literary giants from Kerala, including O N V Kurup, the dramatist Kavalam Narayana Panicker and the poet, activist and environmentalist Sugathakumari.

DC Books, which is coordinating the Indian Pavilion, says top Indian publishers will offer their best-selling titles on sale in several languages and dozens of categories.