New Delhi: The 3rd edition of the Taj Literature Festival scheduled to begin in Agra soon will be more tightly curated, according to organisers.

Unlike the previous two editions, this year, the 3-day long festival beginning on February 26, will not have any particular theme to accommodate varied interests.

"This year we do not have any theme because there is a very varied interest. So, we have accommodated 16 different categories ranging from music, theatre, politics, women cooking and comedy among others, so that nobody can complain that there is nothing for them," Harvijay Singh Bahia, founder of the festival said.

The festival which is an attempt to relive the city's rich past of poetry, music, prose and theatre invites experts from different walks of life to Agra and endeavors to preserve the indigenous culture of the city.   "The festival is going to be very dynamic. We have been dwelling on the lighter subjects to be honest, but the fun ones. We are trying to celebrate words in the finest way,"
Anshu Khanna, who has curated the third edition of the festival said.

Among the major crowd pullers at the festival will be "Kaifi Aur Main" a play starring popular actress Shabana Azmi and her husband and lyricist Javed Akhtar. The play which is a celebration of renowned Urdu poet and film lyricist Kaifi Azmi's life and works seen through the eyes of his wife, noted theatre and film actress, Shaukat Kaifi, will be performed in front of an audience of
4,000 people, Khanna said.

"'Kaifi aur Main' which is the story of Shabana Azmi's father and the relationship her parents had, is based in Kanpur so it is very relevant to Uttar Pradesh," she said. The festival which debuted in 2014 has evolved "beautifully" over the three years, making the organisers "spoilt for choice" regarding the selection of speakers.  "It has evolved beautifully. It is growing slowly, although not so much in size, but definitely in quality. We are very happy that the authors want to come back. We don't know whom to say yes and whom to say no to. But, we want all of them," Bahia said.

The central attraction of the festival remains the "signature session" that is conducted in front of the spectacularly lit Taj Mahal.  For the third edition, the session will have the spotlight
on budding poet Punam Sabbas-Joseph who has penned a collection of poetry titled, "The Soulful Seeker" that encourages children to appreciate and save the environment. The inaugural session will see eminent Hindi poet and author Gopaldas Neeraj in conversation with Annu Kapoor of "Antakshari" fame.   Another session to look forward to at the festival includes spiritual leader Swami Ishwarananda and American Hindu teacher and author, David Frawley discussing the best seller "Autobiography of a Yogi," that talks about the life of Paramahansa Yogananda and his encounters with spiritual figures from across the world.

"It is one of largest selling bestsellers. It has changed the lives of thousands of people all over the world and in India," Bahia said.  A dedicated session to Urdu literature will see popular literary historian and writer Rakhshanda Jalil throwing light on the life and works of legendary Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib. Critically acclaimed filmmakers Sudhir Mishra and Ketan Mehta will deliberate on the growing trend of women protagonists in films.  Besides literature, the festival will also indulge in a host of other entertaining activities to keep the audience engaged.

Celebrity chefs like Kunal Kapoor and Maria Goretti will host a cookery session besides conducting a curated walk of the city's popular 'Chaat Gali' - a lane full of chaat and
snacks stalls to offer their audience a taste of Agra's rich culinary culture.  Anoop Jalota, better known as "Bhajan Samraat" will also be performing at the event.

Other celebrities marking their presence at the festival include actors like Kabir Bedi and Vidya Balan. PTI