Friday, February 22, 2008

Poor Pablo!

I can’t but empathise with Pablo Ganguli. He has done festivals, seminars, conferences in practically every country in the world but it’s his own second country – India – that beat him to the quick (He is primarily a UK Indian.). A festival without sponsors is like a deep sea diver without oxygen. And I think he misjudged the “grab-as-grab-can” attitude of some of his former friends and fellow organisers.

Pablo’s pet project Kitab 2008 has been sabotaged, he has been called a fraud and a cheat by his own collaborators and authors, and even his friends don’t want anything to do with this twenty-three year old. Some prominent authors have said they wouldn't like to be associated with him and expressed their solidarity with fellow writers who were (allegedly) not paid. (Come on, which writer in India can claim to live just by his/her writing alone? Did they presume that this would be a junket thrown in by a British millionaire impressario just to get them on the dais? They have got their publicity, now what more do they want?) His sponsors have pulled out and he is left to run Kitab 2008 with his own money. Come on, I would like to say he is only twenty-three, the same age as my son.

Pablo, a British citizen, has been doing shows, conferences and festivals all over the world since he was fifteen. He has done festivals in Russia (two months back) and every imaginable city. In India he organised a Kitab festival in Delhi and next year he plans to do it in Calcutta. The press called him a “cultural impresario” and everywhere he goes publicity just follows this boyish-looking youth. So people assumed he has lots of money stashed somewhere.

The last time Pablo organised Kitab was in 2007. He had trusted the wrong people, the finance was with a firm that was responsible for raising and paying for all the expenses. This firm has now threatened to sue him if they were not paid a royal amount in addition. The other was his manager of sorts, who managed the events. He showed me an SMS she had written him almost blackmailing him for money, while he says he has already paid her Pounds 2000, and she is after more money, because they all think Pablo is filthy rich. Poor chap!

And that has set everyone who had come to Kitab 2007, after Pablo as if they were bloodhounds after a rabbit. He is being accused of being partial to the white delegates and putting them in the Taj, which is something he refutes. He says his manager herself was responsible for booking the accommodation for the guests, and now she is accusing him of giving better rooms to the Brits delegates and low-rung accommodation for the Indian delegates.

Pablo claims that his manager, who was paid Pounds 2000 (and is now asking for more) insisted that he invite writers from every conceivable state in India, while he had warned her that there weren’t any funds to take care of their accommodation. It is this very manager who is floating the rumour that Pablo was partial when allotting accommodation.

Will the surprises of this world ever cease for Pablo?

Pablo, poor Pablo, has no recourse but to go to court. He is taking all of them to court for defaming his character and writing email that transgress the thin line between communication and slander. If one knows the online media one would never, ever circulate slanderous emails with names and email addresses on them, which is what the accusers of Pablo have done. Hope Pablo has luck in court which has evaded him in the making Kitab 2008 the success he dreamed it to be.

Disclosure: I had promised to help Pablo with the organising of Kitab 2008 and I stand by that decision because I think a commitment is a commitment and I should honour it. Right now accusations are being traded, only later will the truth emerge, and I believe that the just will get their justice, come what may.

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