Poetry, as an art form, is not something that can claim to have a ‘mass appeal’. Everyone loves it in some form or the other, but very few actively seek it out like they used to. Not a lot of people stand in long lines to watch poetry recitals and we are yet to witness a massive internet crash that happened due excessive internet traffic while people were trying to order a particular poet’s work online. But to be a little less pessimistic about the situation, there have been a rekindled interest lately with Poetry Slams happening in some of the big cities, but that is exactly where they are limited to.
Some might even think that poets wouldn’t want their work to be a just a piece of mass reproduced pulp consumed mindlessly by everyone without a hint of understanding. But with our ever-decreasing attention span, possibly a product of the unprecedented exposure to many forms of media that we’re experiencing in today’s times, the popularity of poetry, especially the tradition of recitals in vernacular poetry, has been dwindling. Yet like every other art form, it also has its many followers who have taken it upon themselves to not only introduce the magic of poetry to the younger lot, but to do it using the very medium that could be held partly responsible for its decline in the first place.
A few weeks ago, I came across a Youtube link on my timeline which had Manoj Bajpai reciting a very famous verse from prominent Indian poet Ramdhari Singh Dinkar’s poem Rashmirathi. The recital was preceded by the actor explaining in detail the importance of the poem in his life and also about the times when his poetry recitals made him a known figure in his school.
Now if anyone has ever seen an admirable Manoj Bajpai performance, it’s not that difficult to figure out where he gets his clarity of speech and on-point enunciation from.
This video is part of a larger project undertaken by a production house called Active Illusions, which is dedicated towards creating an online archive of Hindi Poetry recitals and to introduce the magic of Hindi Kavita (also happens to be the name of their channel) to everyone.
The result is that we now have a growing pool of recitals by many known personalities, reciting poems by both classic and contemporary poets, like this video of Swara Bhaskar reciting a poem by Dipankar Giri, a young poet and writer.
The channel has done a commendable job of getting many familiar and talented personalities together to promote poetry and present it in a form that can be easily shared and enjoyed by everyone. After all, it is quite difficult to not appreciate the modern-day Vaudevillian Piyush Mishra reciting, singing and talking about his own poem in another one of their videos.
And it’s not just actors who have been part of this project. Here’s National Award winning lyricist Swanand Kirkire reciting Sahitya Akademi Award winning poet Bhawani Prasad Mishra’s peom Geetfarosh.
It is also true that many of us may not know all the poets that are being recited but that’s exactly what makes this channel a good medium to get to know more about Indian poetry. Because as the advertising industry would bear witness to my claim, nothing can make you more curious about something than seeing an actor you admire talking about it.
While there are only so many videos I can share in this one post, you can visit the channel yourself and curate your own list of favorites. Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with Zeeshan Ayub’s rendition of 18th century poet Nazeer Akbarabadi’s Banjaara-nama.
(Image Courtesy: Youtube)