| Kumud Jha Diwan performs at the planetarium on Friday. Picture by Ranjeet Kumar Dey |
Poetry emerged from the realm of the private and reclaimed its place in the public during the opening ceremony of the Patna Literature Festival on Friday.
Farhat Shahzad evoked the nawabi heritage of Urdu poetry in the inaugural event, Ibteda, at the Indira Gandhi Planetarium. The couplets of the poet from Pakistan, who now lives in US, stirred personal emotions, but were recited consciously for a live audience much like his predecessors used to do in the courts of Bahadur Shah Zafar or Wajid Ali Shah.
For Smriti Singh, 26, a software engineer who works in Bangalore but has come home for Holi, this was the first encounter with Urdu poetry. “I have never experienced anything like this before. The last time I read poetry was in school,” she said.
Shahzad had come prepared to meet all kinds. “Performing poetry is different from writing it privately. Not everyone in the audience will be a lover of literature. But you have to entertain them as well,” he said, after earning rounds of applause from the audience.
His poetry was delightful enough for Smriti at least. She promised to return for more over the next two days.
If the poetry harked back to a glorious culture, the chaita, kajri and thumri performed by Kumud Jha Diwan in the second event of the evening aptly titled Utsav set the mood for the festival, where bibliophiles and connoisseurs of other arts would get to meet and interact with their literary idols or favourite cinematic personalities. Seventeen sessions, workshops for youths and cultural events have been lined up.
Lyricist and film director Gulzar will discuss poetry with fellow versifier Wasim Barelvi as well as Yudhishtir and Draupadi with writer Pawan Kumar Verma. The director of Aandhi (1975) and Maachis (1996) has adapted the English poem into a play Paasha that you would be able to catch at Premchand Rangshala on Sunday evening.
Organiser Dr Ajit Pradhan promised: “You won’t be disappointed if you come to the fest, it will be a lot of fun.”