LAHORE - The third edition of three-day Lahore Literary Festival kicked off on Friday at the Alhamra Halls on the Lahore Arts Council premises. The much awaited event explores the interconnections between literature, art, theatre, films, music, television, journalism and political activism.

Security concerns and chilly winds could not deter the people of Lahore from attending the event. Thousands of people turned up to meet and interact with thinkers, writers, poets and artistes after the thought provoking panel discussions.

Over 100 intellectuals from across Pakistan and other countries including USA, UK, India, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Palestine, Colombia and Australia attend the event.

Majority of sessions were conducted in English but some discussions were in Urdu and Punjabi.

The session ‘Reflections of Seraiki Literature’ with writers and poets from Bahawalpur and neighbouring cities was conducted in Seraiki. The panellists of this session were Ashiq Buzdar, Riffat Abbas, Rana Mehboob with Nukhbah Langah.

The session ‘Zubaan apni apni’ Punjabi Language as People’s Narrative was in Punjabi language while the panellists included Ahmed Saleem and Saeed Bhutta with Mushtaq Soofi. The session ‘Urdu ki maqbool kahanian’ was led by legend Intizar Hussain, M Asaduddin, Kishwar Naheed with Asif Farruki.

The festival earlier began in the morning session ‘The past and present’ was headed by noted historian Romila Thapar. The introduction to the session was presented by Ayesha Jalal.

Star of the first day was Indian superstar Naseeruddin Shah whom people worked hard in the crowd to just get a glimpse of him when he arrived. The session Hero and Anti-Hero which marked Shah’s launch of his memoirs ‘And then one day’ was the most jam packed. Hundreds of people failed to make it inside Alhamra Hall-I and watched at one of the screens set up outside the hall showing live transmission of the discussion that was about the ‘And Then One Day', which is a mix of both, the man and the actor. The book chronicles the life of Naseeruddin Shah - from his childhood till his marriage to Ratna Pathak Shah.

The launch session ‘Voicing silence’ was about UK writer Aminatta Forna’s book ‘The hired man’, which was conducted by Kamila Shamsie. Another launch session was about Mohsin Hamid book ‘Discontent and its civilizations’, which is a collection pulling together essays and reviews from the past 15 years, he talks about the way in which Pakistan is portrayed as a villain.

The panel discussion of Mohsin with Razia Iqbal was interesting and thought provoking as young the writer’s young put up some bold questions after the discussion.

One of the hottest sessions of the day was ‘Politics, pluralism and Khushwant Singh’s Punjab’ in which the panel discussion was led by Aitzaz Ahsan, Basharat Qadir, Rahul Singh, Shobhaa De with FS Aijazuddin. People also took keen interest in session ‘Cityscapes: Writing and living in global cities’. The panellists were Laurent Gayer, Aakar Patel, Jean Lambert, Naresh Ferandes with Khaled Ahmed. There was an interesting session about the city of Lahore ‘Fixing the androon: Reimagining Old Lahore’. It was very informative considering the master planners and architects led the discussion. The panellists were Attiquddin Ahmed, Imrana Tiwana, Kamran Lashari, Nayyar Ali Dada and Qazi Shaukat Fareed.

There were many other sessions that continued throughout the day in five halls but the one that young people thronged to was ‘The trials of writing a first novel’. The panellists were Bilal Tanweer, Mahesh Rao, Saba Imtiaz, Soniah Kamal with Mohsin Hamid. It was encouraging for the young aspiring novelists.

All the sessions were jam packed. Some people stayed to attend all the session while most kept coming and going. The day ended with a electrifying performance by musical band Poor Rich Boy.