NEARLY four lakh people visited the 10-day Vizag Fest at the sprawling Andhra University Engineering College Exhibition Grounds in Visakhapatnam. People from all walks of life, irrespective of caste, creed and religion, visited the festival held between December 1 and December 10. There were many who visited the festival on all the days. In a way, the people of Visakhapatnam felt that it was their own. The fest was a mix of many progressive activities.
A book fair with over 100 stalls from all over the country was the main attraction. The book exhibition was organised in collaboration with Andhra University, Vignan University, Sahitya Akademi, National Book Trust and Visakha Book Festival committee. A science and tech exhibition, named after APJ Abdul Kalam, displayed over 100 projects from various educational institutions. There was a daily programme – ‘Meet the Scientist’ – in the science and tech exhibition. A prominent scientist attended as a guest speaker at the exhibition every day. The exhibition served the purpose of educating and inculcating scientific thinking and temper in people. Another important attraction in the fest was the “short film screening theatre”. Visakha Short Film Association was set up at the festival.
Another major attraction was the Gurazada Apparao Sahitya Vedika, named after the doyen of progressive Telugu literature of the 19th Century. A stage was specially erected for exhibition and promotion of modern Telugu literature, especially among the youths and students. In all, around 200 prominent writers participated in the meetings held on each day of the fest. Competitions were also held separately for general public and for students in faculties of modern poetry and short story writing. Another notable part of the fest was the “Public Sector Pavilion”. Prominent Public Sector Undertakings participated in the fest with their models, initiatives and products, giving an overview of the activities of their industries to the visiting public. Exhibition and sale of home needs and appliances had been the greatest of the attractions in the fest.
The cultural dais attracted the maximum crowd. A sprawling 1,200-sqft stage was erected with illuminating lighting and a powerful sound system. On an average, on each day, not less than 300 artistes from around 30 teams presented their programmes. The performances usually started by5pm and lasted till 9 pm, and on some days, the programmes went on up to 10 pm. The enthusiasm among the youths and students was so high that they waited hours together for their turn to perform. Folk dances, classical dances, solo and group performances were all there adding colour and gaiety to the performances. All the programmes had their own message and exposed evils of the society such as atrocities on women, Dalits and minorities; dowry; and unscientific and superstitious beliefs.
Many prominent personalities participated in the events. Vice-chancellor of Andhra University G Nageswara Rao inaugurated the fest on December 1. The inaugural session was chaired by Prof. K V Ramana, former vice-chancellor and chairman of the Vizag Fest, 2017. District and Sessions judge Jyotirmayi, Registrar of Andhra University Uma Maheswara Rao graced the inaugural function. Progressive Telugu film lyricist Sri Suddala Ashok Teja enthralled the audience on the inaugural day. State minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao visited the festival on December 4. He extended full support, cooperation and help for the conduct of the Vizag Fest. Progressive directors, producers, writers and actors of the film industry attended the fest.
Vizag Fest is a registered trust with Prof. K V Ramana, former vice-chancellor of Andhra University, as its chairman. An advisory board is formed with many prominent personalities including professors and retired civil servants. The preparatory work for the Vizag Fest started in in September and went on for nearly three months. Different teams have worked for the success of the fest. Suffice to say, the Vizag Fest proved to be a celebration of tradition and science.