Russian pavilion in 45th International Kolkata Book Fair testifies literature, films, music are beyond boundaries of war

Book lovers' enthusiasm over Russian literature in Kolkata book fair unperturbed by Ukraine warKolkata Book Fair Two readers at the Russian pavilion in book fair | Image Credit: Avishek Mitra/IBNS

Souvik Ghosh/IBNS 

Kolkata/IBNS: It is often said literature, films, music are beyond boundaries of war, hatred or acrimony and the Russian pavilion in the 45th International Kolkata Book Fair is a witness to it.

India Blooms walked into the pavilion, which was inaugurated by the Consulate General of Russia to Kolkata on Mar 1, to enquire about the mood of people (read book lovers) in the backdrop of the ongoing RussiaUkraine war, which entered the 11th day on Sunday.

Among a decent crowd flipping through the pages of Russian literature, Priyam, a student, is evidently careless about what’s going on in some other parts of the world when it comes to books.

Outside Russian pavilionOutside Russian pavilion

“I don’t see anything. This is just Russia’s stall which celebrates Russian literature,” he shares.

One thing which was exclusive to the Russia pavilion in the entire book fair in 2022 is the deployment of a reasonable police force outside the segment.

The arrangement has been made in tune with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s stern warning against any sort of protest outside the Russian pavilion.

A reader at the Russian pavilionA reader at the Russian pavilion

“I was curious to see what sort of security was there. The security is quite evident here. Apart from that, this is just a Russian stall and it is treated like a stall from any other country,” Priyam adds as he points out a male constable on duty as the crowd outside the pavilion swells.

Inaugurating the book fair, whose theme country this year is Bangladesh, on Feb 28, the Chief Minister in strict words had said, “West Bengal has always been in favor of peace. Protest against war, but do not protest on the book fairground. The ground should be kept away from such protests.

The mood of Faria Kaiser, a young student who lowered the mask to speak as COVID-19 cases are on the decline, speaks no different than that of his male co-book lover.

“I wanted to come to the Book Fair to visit here (Russian pavilion). It is because this is the first time the book fair is taking place since the pandemic broke out,” Faria, who was accompanied by her sister Sania, says and adds in the same breath, “I didn’t have that kind of idea about the Russia-Ukraine war. I just came here for the kind of interaction with the people, for the love for the Russian language.”

Going back a couple of years, Debasmita Moulik, the press spokesperson of the Russian pavilion, boasts on the success of the 2020 International Kolkata Book Fair, whose theme country was Russia.

Police constable deployed outside Russian pavilion Police constable deployed outside Russian pavilion

Denying any kind of hesitancy among people, Moulik tells India Blooms, “The book fair is an annual connection between the book lovers of Russia and India. Even in 2020, Russia was the theme country in the book fair which was also a grand success.”

“Majority of the people come here for literature,” she adds standing in an extreme corner of the pavilion, which has a stand dedicated to popular Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky.

(Images by Avishek Mitra/IBNS)