By Harshmeet Singh
The Siri Fort Auditorium in the capital is currently playing a host to the third edition of ‘Delhi Poetry Festival’. The second day of the festival saw a majestic performance from the noted Bollywood singer, music director, lyricist and actor, Piyush Mishra. Another star attraction of the day was Muzaffar Ali, the noted filmmaker who was the man behind movies like ‘Umrao Jaan’, ‘Gaman’ and ‘Aagaman’.
As expected, the venue was completely filled with poetry lovers from all the age groups and all the sections of the society. Though the event got off to a late start (5.20pm instead of 4pm), not a single attendee felt the need to leave the auditorium. Such enthusiasm is a rare site in a poetry festival.
The program kicked off with an open interaction with Muzaffar Ali which was moderated by Nilofar Currimbhoy, the daughter of well-known entrepreneur, Shahnaz Husain.
A variety of questions were posed at Ali, including why do the female protagonists in his movies always play a poetess and how does he manage to don so many hats, including that of a director, poet and painter. He summed up all his answers with this one-liner, “Poets make a country, and the politicians destroy it”.
Though the crowd appreciated all the responses given by Ali, it was evident that they were saving their best cheers for Piyush Mishra.
Donning a beret cap, a sweatshirt with a hoodie and cargo pants, Mishra was at his wittiest from the moment he stepped onto the stage. Not allowing the anchor to introduce him, Mishra said, “Aare rehne do yaar, kaafi late ho gaya hai, mic lao” (Let it be, it is already late, give me the mic). For the next ninety minutes, the auditorium was filled with claps and cheers.
Taking requests from the audience, Mishra also sang his famous numbers ‘Husna’, ‘Sheher’ and ‘Bhau’. He also introduced his new poetry book which would hit the markets soon. To lure the audience into the book, he recited a few poems included in the Book, each of which was given a thundering applause by the audience.
Mishra also recited a few verses based on the ‘strugglers’ in Mumbai, who try and learn everything but acting! While reciting a poem dedicated to the young 5-6 year old girls who are being raped in different parts of the country, he asked the audience to refrain from clapping.
Understanding the somber mood in the audience after the hard hitting poem, he quickly resorted to one of his funny pieces based on ‘one night stands’ which got the audience back into the jolly mood.
Considering that the entire three-day event revolves around Hindi and Urdu poetry, the completely filled venues are a welcome sign and are contradictory to the notion that only movies and rock star concerts draw an audience in today’s time.
With so much debate going on regarding our eroding culture and heritage and the youth’s tilt towards western culture, events such as these highlight the fact that if well organized and marketed, such events have the potential to bring back the youth’s lost interest in our indigenous culture.
It would be hard to imagine people applauding on each and every line in a Rock concert, the way they were opening their hearts out of Piyush Mishra’s words.
The three-day Delhi poetry festival will conclude today after an open mic shayari competition to be judged by Piyush Mishra and an open interaction with Prasoon Joshi. The entry to the event is free of cost.