Oprah charms "chaotic" India at Jaipur literature fest

JAIPUR Sun Jan 22, 2012 5:21pm IST

Entertainment host Oprah Winfrey speaks at the annual Literature Festival in Jaipur, January 22, 2012. REUTERS/Altaf Hussain

Entertainment host Oprah Winfrey speaks at the annual Literature Festival in Jaipur, January 22, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Altaf Hussain

Related Topics

JAIPUR (Reuters) - Amid raucous cheers from thousands of admirers, television superstar Oprah Winfrey praised the contrast of calm and chaos in India at the annual Jaipur Literature Festival fast becoming a global cultural gala.

Considered one of the world's most influential women, Winfrey lived up to her billing as the headline draw at an event boasting literary giants such as Tom Stoppard, Michael Ondaatje and Richard Dawkins, charming the crowds on Sunday morning.

"I came here with an open mind, and it has been expanded... It's the greatest life experience I have ever had," Winfrey said.

"You feel like you're in the centre of something bigger and greater than yourself."

Hundreds of eager visitors jostled against barricades at the back of the main stage area as Winfrey began speaking. Security guards struggled to shut the main entrance gates as angry admirers tried to push their way inside.

"It's like being in a video game. I don't know which way to look," Winfrey told crowds on her arrival in Mumbai. "It's a bit chaotic, but there's an underlying calm, a flow, that you all seem to understand. India is a paradox."

The 57-year-old has caused a media storm in India, with news channels and front pages filled with stories of her touring the city of Mumbai with the Bachchans, Bollywood's first family. On Sunday she drew huge cheers as she appeared on stage in a traditional Indian churidar kameez smock.

"I will take with me a sense of calmness, and a genuine respect... people don't talk religion here, they live it," Winfrey said.

Her appearance on Sunday was seen as a welcome distraction from the Salman Rushdie furore that has overshadowed the five-day festival, after the author cancelled his planned visit due to reported assassination threats against him.

The talk-show host and interviewer's "Book Club" turned little-known authors into global stars, with 59 of the club's 70 selected books making the USA TODAY Top 10 best-sellers list.

Winfrey told the festival that in 2008, after witnessing the completion of her mission to get then-Senator Barack Obama to the White House, she stuck a picture of a woman riding a camel on her pinboard, that said "Come to India".

"It was important for me to go to slums but not show the worst of the worst, but show that people can live in poverty and still have hope and meaning in their lives," said Winfrey, who also called for Indians to work to eradicate discrimination against widows in society.

(Editing by Ron Popeski)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Cinema

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Sax and the City

Sax and the City

Kenny G hits sour note in China with Hong Kong visit .  Full Article 

Editor Dead

Editor Dead

Former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee dies at 93.  Full Article 

Legal Battle

Legal Battle

Singer Kesha denied drug, sex claims against producer 3 years ago.  Full Article 

The Savage Mountain

The Savage Mountain

Reuters Photographer Wolfgang Rattay travelled to northern Pakistan to trek the K2 base camp trail.  Slideshow 

Humane Filmmaker

Humane Filmmaker

Animal rights group honors 'Noah' director avoiding animal use in film.  Full Article 

Celebrity Auction

Celebrity Auction

Madonna memorabilia takes center stage in celebrity auction.  Full Article 

Romantic Portugal

Romantic Portugal

Sintra, Portugal was the first center of Romantic architecture in the 19th century, with its influences spreading wide across Europe.  Slideshow 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage