23 November 1983 |
Pablo Ganguli (born 23 November 1983) is a cultural entrepreneur, artist, director and impresario  who has created and directed several international festivals, movements and summits of arts, literature, media, film, fashion and culture, through his organisation Liberatum. After starting his career with spearheading cultural missions in Morocco, Russia and India, Ganguli achieved recognition for his role in founding the Liberatum multimedia creative platform.
Ganguli is the mastermind behind leading international cultural diplomacy ventures ranging from Hong Kong to Berlin, Moscow to Istanbul. His ventures forge cultural relations between nations and connect the world's finest minds with each other globally through multidisciplinary cultural programmes, summits and specially curated festivals. Ganguli's organisation Liberatum also promotes environmental, human rights, freedom of speech and other important issues.
- 1 Personal life
- 2 Career
- 3 Media
- 4 Ventures
- 5 Film
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
- 8 External links
Ganguli was born in a Bengali Hindu Brahmin family in Kolkata, West Bengal, India, reportedly the son of an art historian. Some sources state that one of his great-grandfathers was the private secretary to Rabindranath Tagore, the Bengali poet who was Asia's first Nobel laureate. As an infant, Ganguli was brought up by his grandmother. He claimed he had never met his mother, and throughout his childhood was only visited by his art-historian father once a month.
In 2000, Ganguli met Simon Scaddan, then British Deputy High Commissioner to eastern India, at a musical soiree in the French Consulate in Calcutta. When Scaddan became British High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea in 2001, Ganguli moved into his diplomatic residence as his official consort/partner. The relationship became public in 2003.
In August 2006 it was reported that the Ganguli and Scaddan had split, although remaining friends, and that Ganguli was living in Scaddan's Edinburgh apartment. In 2007, it was reported that Ganguli was living in Wales. In 2009, The Times stated that Ganguli was based in London.
The Times reported in 2009 that Ganguli's partner was the young artist Tomas Auksas who joined him at his Moscow festival.
In August 2006, a columnist in the Evening Standard of London noted that Ganguli had made 'the remarkable journey from a student studying French in Calcutta to, seemingly, one of the world's leading literary salonistas in just three years'.
The December 2007 issue of the British Esquire magazine announced that it had named Ganguli a runner up at the inaugural 'Esquire Man at the Top Awards' under the category 'Young Entrepreneur of the Year'. Esquire reported that Ganguli's work was proof that entrepreneurial skill can work as well for art as for commerce. In November 2010 and 2011, Ganguli was selected as one of the 1000 most influential figures in London by the Evening Standard.
In March 2011, Ganguli said with regard to the festivals he puts on: “It’s not a job. It’s my life. It’s what I dream about and have nightmares about.” The principal source of income for his festivals is sponsorship, which he says is “never easy to get and requires a lot of hard work”. He does not pay the speakers at his festivals: “It’s like giving a fee to someone for attending the Oscars."
Much attention has been paid to Ganguli's image, appearance and personal style by the international media, the British in particular. They continue to paint his profile as an alluring, exotic and enigmatic figure. The editor of the Spectator wrote in his magazine diary that Ganguli reminded him of a cross between Oscar Wilde and Malcolm McLaren while James Collard of The Saturday Times Magazine reported that Pablo Ganguli was a wunderkind and a mystery. He went on to add 'Or even, as Winston Churchill said in an altogether different context, a riddle wrapped in a mysery inside an enigma.' Words including rare, flamboyant, legendary and fascinating have been used to describe Ganguli.
Papua New Guinea
In 2001, Ganguli created Connect UK, a Papua New Guinea based organisation, whose stated purpose was to forge cultural ties between the South Pacific and Britain. In November 2002, the British High Commission and Connect UK jointly put on the first 'British Week' in that country, 'a celebration of British arts, culture, design, education and science and technology'. Festival participants included Janet Street-Porter and Benjamin Zephaniah.
Ganguli directed the first Women's Rights Conference in Papua New Guinea supported by the PNG, Australian, United States and British governments. Baroness Valerie Amos, the then British Secretary of State for International Development sent a message of good wishes for the conference. The British Council and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office supported the work of Ganguli in Papua New Guinea. Connect UK organised events promoting human rights, youth issues and Aids awareness projects.
The cultural programme of Connect UK consisted of piano recitals by Peter Donohoe, mime events by a British artist, science exhibitions designed by the British Council and international film festivals. Ganguli directed three annual international film festivals in different parts of the country. Ganguli directed the first Britain-South Pacific Museum management project. The two UK experts who visited the region to conduct the courses were from the Victoria and Albert Museum and City University.
Between 2003 and 2006, Ganguli spent part of his time in Morocco. Ganguli was head of public relations and events at Kasbah Agafay and Kssour Agafay, a private member's club and luxury hotel in Marrakech. Tim Willis in The London Evening Standard on 5 Jan 2010 reported of Ganguli's deportation from Morocco in 2005 thus: "when, returning from a trip to India in 2005, he learned that his ex had been expelled from Morocco and that he had 48 hours to leave the country. “I was never given a reason,” he says. Ganguli moved into a house owned by Scaddan( his ex lover) in Edinburgh".
Britain and Festivals by Ganguli
Beginning in 2005, Ganguli started creating and directing festivals in different parts of the world. Ganguli is based in Britain.
The Arts in Marrakech International Festival, a festival of English and Arabic art and literature, was held in Morocco from 29 September to 3 October 2005, and was preceded by Scottish Week Marrakesh, 21–28 September, also organised by Ganguli. The festival included two art exhibitions, one of Moroccan art and one of contemporary British art, under the aegis of Vanessa Branson, sister of tycoon Richard Branson; interviews; readings; and panel discussions on Anglo-Arabic literature.
Those participating included singer Annie Lennox, sculptor Antony Gormley, author Hari Kunzru, writer Deborah Moggach, playwright Hanif Kureishi, artistic director Ekow Eshun and novelist Esther Freud. Other guests included Saadi Youssef and Richard Branson.
Kitab New Delhi
Kitab, sponsored by the Hindustan Times, with The Times (UK) as its English media partner, was held at the India Habitat Centre in south Delhi, India, 7–9 April 2006. It was India's first international literary festival. Speakers included actress Goldie Hawn, member of the British Parliament Clare Short, historian William Dalrymple, writer Nadeem Aslam, UN Under-Secretary General Shashi Tharoor, and journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.
The festival programme consisted of discussions on subjects such as Globalisation, the writer and the nation; Women's writing: what is it and do women want it?; Media Culpa: Does the media fail literature in the UK and India? Debates, book readings, Q&A sessions and lectures were also held. The most entertaining debate was on the subject 'Humanity, fallibility and truth in contemporary politics' Vir Sanghvi chaired the debate with Clare Short, Rory Stewart and Shashi Tharoor.
The second Kitab was held in Mumbai, India, February 23–36, 2007. Ganguli said the festival was going to be 'Bollywood meets International Literature'. Participants included Shekhar Kapur, Philip Hensher, Jackie Kay, and Geoff Dyer.
Several organizers of the festival said in February 2008 that Ganguli stilled owed them money, had provided them incorrect information, and had a bias for British participants rather than Indian ones. Ganguli denied all accusations, saying that the local organizers were supposed to raise money from sponsors, but did not, and that they had invited Indian authors from outside Mumbai, against Ganguli's wishes, despite there being no funds for their expenses.
Kitab Mumbai 2008
The third Kitab was again held in Mumbai, from 22–24 February 2008. Guests were to include M.J. Hyland, Indra Sinha, Sarfraz Manzoor, Christine Jordis, Sonia Faleiro, Dilip Chitre, Robert Graham Irwin and Matthew d'Ancona. Some of the bigger names — like Salman Rushdie — were missing from the list. Ganguli said before the festival began that "I think audiences want to encounter niche names. Last year we had over 100 personalities from various cultural domains and this time there are just 30. But we are sure the festival is going to be as enlightening as ever."
Twelve high-profile authors, including Amit Chaudhuri, the president of the 2007 Kitab, signed a letter in support of the protests regarding the 2007 festival. Writers who attended and spoke included Indra Sinha, Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan and John P Matthew. Sponsors who withdrew at the last minute including media partners the Times (UK) and Vogue India. "I don't know what will happen next year," said Ganguli.
Liberatum Hong Kong
It was announced in Asia Tatler and the Wall Street Journal that Ganguli will present Liberatum in Hong Kong in 2012. Participants include Pharrell Williams, Rossy de Palma, Paul Schrader, Thomas Heatherwick, Daniel Wu and Khalil Fong.
The Majestic Petra Festival was originally scheduled to be held in December 2006 in Petra, Jordan. Ganguli postponed the festival in October, citing 'security concerns'. In mid-December 2006 it was reported that the festival's location had changed to Dubai. But the festival is now rescheduled to be held in Jordan in June 2008; Ganguli is working on organising another British-Arab International festival in Dubai called the BAI Dubai International Arts and Literary Festival.
Among the numerous confirmed speakers for the Petra festival are authors Hanan al-Shaykh, Martin Amis, VS Naipaul, Vikram Seth and Mariella Frostrup. Petra is still under production and will be held sometime in 2010.
Jewel of Russia
An international festival of arts, literature and music  called "Jewel of Russia" was held in St Petersburg from 27–31 October 2007. As of February 2007, Ganguli was hoping to stage talks, readings and discussions. Confirmed guests, according to the programme on the Liberatum website, included Edward Docx, Orlando Figes, Alex James, Jasper Conran, Mikhail Piotrovsky, Norman Rosenthal, Stephen Frears and Lyudmila Ulitskaya. Participants of the Jewel of Russia festival discussed, debated and reflected upon subjects relating to arts, media, fashion, music, literature and freedom of speech. The broadcaster Jon Snow also took part in the programme. One of the festival venues was the Hermitage Museum.
Lufthansa was the title sponsor of the festival, therefore the name of the festival was Lufthansa Jewel of Russia. The music programme of the festival was directed by Alexander Zeldin. Opera and concerts were performed at the Mariinsky Theatre. Thomas Ades, Valery Gergiev and Peter Donohoe conducted and performed.
According to the Liberatum website, Ganguli's most recent venture (1–3 May 2009) was a festival of British-Russian arts, fashion, film, media, music and literature called AngloMockBa. It is understood to have been the second edition of Jewel of Russia. AngloMockBa was supported and sponsored by TIME, Swissotel Krasnye Holmy, bmi, BBC Russian Service, Audi and The Moscow Times.
The Times reported that guests included leading British and Russian cultural and media personalities such as Michael Nyman, Martha Fiennes, Gavin Turk, Michael Craig-Martin, Irina Hakamada, Lucy Freud, Andrei Konchalovsky, Masha Tsigal, Amanda Eliasch, Danny Moynihan, William Orbit, Henry Holland (fashion designer), Stephen Jones (milliner), Dylan Jones and Stephen Frears. Venues include Dasha Zhukova's Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, ABC Art Gallery, The Most and Eisenstein Film Library.
The St PetersBall
Pablo Ganguli and Liberatum were commissioned by Corinthia Hotels to develop a festival in St Petersburg in November 2010. The St PetersBall celebrated ballet, art, film and fashion. Participants included John Hillcoat, Johnny Borrell of Razorlight, DBC Pierre, Jasper Conran, Polly Morgan, dancers from the Mikhaylovsky Theatre, singers from the St Petersburg Conservatory and Mat Collishaw. Venues included the Academy of Fine Arts, Dom Kino and Lazarev Gallery. Festival partners such as L'Officiel Magazine and BMW took part in St PetersBall.
Ganguli founded and directed a major festival of cultural diplomacy and international arts in Istanbul in July 2010 under the title 'Istancool'. Liberatum claimed the festival's aim was to showcase all that is contemporary about Istanbul as a great world city while celebrating its past and heritage. Istancool brought together leading fashion, arts and cultural figures from Milan, London, Paris and New York City including Terence Koh, Daphne Guinness, Leigh Lezark, The Misshapes, Michael Nyman, Gareth Pugh, Gore Vidal, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Lily Cole, Zaha Hadid, Philip Treacy, Sir VS Naipaul, Franca Sozzani, Lee Daniels, Waris Ahluwalia and Jefferson Hack. The festival celebrated Istanbul's status as the 2010 European Capital of Culture. It aimed to showcase the great talents of Turkey and connect them with leading global figures. Istancool sponsors and partners consisted of Turkish Airlines, Istanbul 74, Vakko, Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, AnOther Magazine, Vogue Turkiye, Harper's Bazaar, Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture Agency, Sakip Sabanci Museum, Turkish Airlines, Pera Museum and Istanbul Modern.
Liberatum and Ganguli worked in partnership with Turkish agency Istanbul'74 again on the second edition of Istancool in May 2011. Participants who travelled to Istanbul included Courtney Love, Kirsten Dunst, Tilda Swinton, Michael Stipe, Terry Gilliam, Ryan McGinley, Dan Colen, Sophie Calle, Reha Erdem, Serra Yilmaz, Venice Film Festival director Marco Mueller, Sam Taylor-Wood, Aaron Johnson among many others. Main sponsor VAKKO supported the festival while other partners included Pegasus Airlines, EDITION Hotel and the Turkish Ministry of Tourism and Culture.
Brazil / Latin America
Recent reports including new information on the Liberatum website suggest Ganguli is creating a unique and rare world class cultural celebration for Brazil in 2012.[dated info]
According to the Liberatum website, Ganguli's forthcoming festivals include Madrid, Istanbul, Buenos Aires, Venice and Kuwait. In August 2008, Ganguli said that the festival planned for Moscow in October 2008 probably would have to be postponed. It finally took place in May 2009 and went successfully, according to the Independent newspaper article.
On 23 November 2010, Pablo Ganguli and Liberatum arts patron Ella Krasner hosted a Liberatum dinner in honour of Nobel Laureate Sir VS and Lady Naipaul. The dinner was held in London at the Langham Hotel and it featured dignitaries such as Sir Richard Eyre, Victoria and Albert Museum director Sir Mark Jones (museum director), Serpentine Gallery director Julia Peyton Jones, Terry Gilliam, Christopher Hampton, Mike Figgis, Grayson Perry, Martin Amis, BFI director Amanda Nevill, Sotheby's Chairman James Stourton, Charlotte Casiraghi, Sir Evelyn Robert de Rothschild, Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, Alexander Dellal, Mariella Frostrup and many others to celebrate the career of Sir VS Naipaul. Liberatum recently collaborated with Sir VS Naipaul on a recent cultural mission to Turkey for the Istancool festival. In 2011, Liberatum honoured Sir Peter Blake in London at the Corinthia Hotel London and also celebrated its 10th anniversary.
Ganguli hosted a celebratory event and dinner in honour of Another Magazine in January 2011 in Paris. Guests who attended included Kate Moss, Riccardo Tisci, Rick Owens, Christian Louboutin, Marianne Faithfull, Carine Roitfeld and Suzy Menkes.
Pablo Ganguli, Liberatum, in partnership with Soho House and Grey Goose Vodka, hosted a summit in Berlin in July 2012. Artists who attended and took part included James Franco, Marianne Faithfull, Carmen Dell'Orefice, Jonas Akerlund, Nelly Furtado, Nobel Prize winning author Wole Soyinka, Lily Cole, Kim Cattrall and others. The summit featured performance art and music events with Azari & III, Rossy de Palma, David Fernandez and Jewels Good. Berlin Liberatum also paid tribute to Marianne Faithfull and celebrated her career achievements.
Ganguli's direction of a short film with illy earned him widespread recognition and positive media coverage in world media. The film featured several world renowned artists, musicians and actors such as James Franco, Tracey Emin and Hans Zimmer. 
- Britain goes to Moscow, T2 The Times, 6 May 2009
- "Pablo Ganguli Reveals the Secrets of Hosting the World's Artistic Elite", NOWNESS, 28 December 2011
- Ganguli's Guardian Profile, Comment is free
- "A meeting of minds on the Bosphorus", The Independent, 6 June 2011
- "Pablo Ganguli profile on Vogue Italia", Vogue Italia, 23 November 2010
- Caroline Philips, 'The boy who beguiled London's literary luvvies', Evening Standard (London), 24 August 2006
- David Robinson, "Ariel perspectives", The Scotsman, 24 February 2007
- 'The talented Mr Ganguli, one of London's best connected people', London Evening Standard, 5 January 2010
- Paul Gould, 'Diplomatic impunity', Financial Times, 1 September 2006
- Hugo Rifkind, 'Britain goes to Moscow for AngloMockba', The Times, 6 May 2009
- ES (15 November 2011). "London's 1000 most influential people 2011: Literati". Evening Standard.
- Emma Jacobs (24 March 2011). "Lucrative celebration: earning money from festivals". Financial Times.
- , The Times, 15 April 2006
- "Matthew d'Ancona's Diary", The Spectator, 5 March 2008
- James Collard, 'Culture Clubber', Saturday Times Magazine (Saturday Times Newspaper), 28 October 2006, pages 52–54
- 'UK Embassies Overseas: British Week, Papua New Guinea', British Foreign Office
- 'Connect UK, Papua New Guinea', Liberatum Papua New Guinea
- Laurie Werner, 'Travel', Forbes magazine, 12 December 2005
- Subuhi Jiwani, 'Literary festival gets a novel spin', Daily News and Analysis, India, 24 March 2006
- Tim Bullamore, 'Making a home in Marrakesh', Times Online, 30 June 2006
- Tim Bullamore, 'Bagpipers facing a battle to be heard', Times (UK)
- Sam Leith, 'The king of Morocco and his carpet magic', Telegraph (UK), 3 October 2005
- Catherine Lockerbie, 'Voyage of artistic discovery beneath the sheltering sky', The Scotsman, 11 October 2005
- Boyd Tonkin, 'A Week in Books', The Independent (UK), 14 April 2006
- Geordie Grieg, 'Giggles and some Goldie philosophy', Times (UK), 15 April 2006
- Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, 'The snobbery and intellectual passion that is India', The Independent, 17 April 2006
- Farrukh Dhondy, 'Confessions of a festival fly', Sunday Times (India). Retrieved 24 January 2007.
- Shreevatsa Nevatia, "Controversies overshadow Mumbai literary fest", Hindustan Times, 21 February 2008
- Shloka Nath, "Mumbai literary fest: Kitab opens an ugly chapter", NDTV.com, 21 February 2008
- Kavitha Rao, "Mumbai book festival ends amid multiple recriminations", Guardian (UK), 25 February 2008
- Divya Unny, "A literary homecoming", Daily News & Analysis, 10 February 2008
- 'Pablo Ganguli Brings Liberatum To Hong Kong', Asia Tatler, 6 February 2012
- 'Pharrell Williams, V.S. Naipaul, Marianne Faithfull on Liberatum’s Lineup', The Wall Street Journal, 14 March 2012
- Oliver Marre, 'Looks like no Rania on their literary parade', The Guardian (UK), 15 October 2006
- Oliver Duff, ' Festival moves to save Amis and Greer from al-Qa'ida', The Independent (UK), 14 December 2006
- "Jewel of Russia", Wallpaper magazine, 6 August 2007
- "Literary festivals around the world",Financial Times, 29 August 2007
- "In Pictures – Istancool", Another Magazine, 8 July 2010
- 'Istancool Diary', Nowness, 9 June 2011
- Jai Arjun Singh, 'I don`t mind being called an impresario', Q&A: Pablo Ganguli, Business Standard, 11 February 2007
- "My week in Media: Pablo Ganguli", The Independent, 25 August 2008
- "Great and good salute a British literary giant", Evening Standard, 24 November 2010
- "Liberatum's 10th Anniversary", Tatler, 23 November 2011
- "Manolo Blahnik and André Leon Talley talk movies and fashion", The Daily Telegraph, 16 March 2011
- "Liberatum Berlin", Interview Magazine, July 2012
- HEAR WHAT JAMES FRANCO, HANS ZIMMER, TRACEY EMIN, MOBY, AND OTHERS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT CREATIVITY, Fast Company, May 2014
- Ganguli's 'Rising Star' profile in the Observer Magazine
- Boyd Tonkin on Kitab 2
- Ganguli's profile on British Council Counterpoint website (2006)
- Connect UK in Papua New Guinea
- Post Courier article on Ganguli
- Independent's Pandora on Kitab
- Nirpal Dhaliwal on Kitab 2
- Boyd Tonkin on Ganguli's Marrakech Festival
- Dylan Jones on Kitab 2
- Sam Leith's Blog on Mumbai and Kitab 2
- Guardian blog on Kitab 2
- Sam Leith on Kitab 2
- Arts in Marrakech Festival
- Jewel of Russia mentioned in the Guardian
- The Spectator article on Jewel of Russia
- Jon Snow's Financial Times article on Jewel of Russia
- The Times article on Jewel of Russia
- The Spectator Diary on Kitab 2008
- The Times article on AngloMockBa
- Dylan Jones' on Moscow in the Independent
- Independent feature on AngloMockBa
- Telegraph piece on Moscow