National Poetry Writing Month, celebrated every April, is an annual writing project in which all participating poets aim to write a poem on every day of the month. It was started by poet Maureen Thomson in 2003, when she began writing a poem a day and sharing it on her blog. Soon, other bloggers took forward the creative challenge and today, this month is observed by poetry-lovers all over the world, not just in the US.
In keeping with the tradition, My Kolkata decided to revel in the spirit of #NaPoWriMo by looking at some of our favourite Bolly and Tolly stars who have a penchant for poetry.
Shah Rukh Khan
While his poem in Jab Tak Hai Jaan made us go weak in the knees, his pandemic collaboration with UnErase Poetry – titled Sab Sahi Ho Jayega – showed us a new side of SRK. Talking about the universal feelings the world went through during the first lockdown, King Khan’s reassuring smile made us believe that no matter how bored we were of the same shows or how unproductive we felt, everything would eventually fall into place. The highlight of the video however, is AbRam’s cute antics, which promise to bring a smile on your face.
His booming baritone has given life to many poems over the years, particularly those of his father, poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan. Few scenes are as iconic as his recital of Sahir Ludhianvi’s Kabhi Kabhi Mere Dil Mein Khayal Aata Hai. However, there is something particularly special about his rendition of the classic, Koshish Karne Waalon Ki Kabhi Haar Nahi Hoti on KBC, which leaves us feeling motivated every time we watch it.
Being the daughter of legendary poet Kaifi Azmi, it is no surprise that Shabana has inherited a keen love for the art. Her rendition of ilaj-e-dard-e-dil tum se masiha ho nahin sakta by Muztar Khairabadi not only encapsulates the facets of passionate love, but also recreates the experience with just words. The couplets she dedicates to husband Javed Akhtar make the clip even more heartwarming.
Khurrana brought together his love for writing with his representation of unconventional men in this piece titled Gentleman kise kehte hai? In the clip, he smashes the norms laid down by the patriarchy, sheds light on the way it affects men, whilst beckoning them to be gentle and placing value on sensitivity and vulnerability.
Tripathi’s onstage energy is truly infectious. She has the rare gift of making viewers feel like she isn’t performing a piece, but merely enacting her thoughts in front of friends. Her recently released Tum Ladki Ho! on the occasion of Women’s Day, perfectly captures the way society compartmentalises women into boxes and makes it difficult for them to soar. She encourages women to live for themselves and indulge in self love, rather than just giving in to the pressures of the world.
Besides being among the most illustrious actors the country has ever produced, Soumitra Chatterjee was also a distinguished poet, publishing more than 10 poetry books. One of his last public performances was with the musical duo Sourendro-Soumyojit, where the trio ushered in the Pujo spirit. The video, titled The Last Letter, was released as a posthumous tribute to Chatterjee and evokes a plethora of emotions as the actor’s iconic voice stirs something deep in our hearts.
Aparna Sen is a known patron of poetry, and has even conducted virtual poetry reading sessions during the lockdown. Her grace amplifies the impact of any poem and she makes it a point to highlight the works of Bengali poets. One of her most notable sessions comprised her breathing life into Joy Goswami’s Grihobodhu'r Diary (Diary of a Housewife), which she read in both Bengali and English. Her expert recitation compliments Goswami’s lyrical masterpiece, bringing alive the emotions of a wife in turmoil, and her questions over forbidden pleasure.
One of the most prolific lyricists in Tollywood, Roy’s love affair with poetry is no secret. Recently, he stepped into the world of audiobooks, reading his book of poems, Nijer Shobde Kaaj Koro, for Storytel. Roy’s melodious voice is complimented by a soothing score, which provides a new depth to his take on themes like the city, nights and love. With almost 40 poems in the book, this piece of art is equally beautiful whether you choose to binge it or savour it.
Srijato’s contribution to creating the current generation of Bengali poetry lovers is immense. Besides writing on a plethora of topics, the poet also holds frequent online addas to further a culture of poetry appreciation. His passion shines through in each of his recitations, be it Se aar aami, Uronto sob joker or Sesh Chithi. His Facebook account is a goldmine, comprising dozens of poetry recitation videos.
One of the most prominent filmmakers in Bengali cinema, Ghose has always harboured a fondness for poetry, which is evident in how he depicted poet Lalan Faqir’s life in Moner Manush. Interestingly, for Srijit Mukherji’s Baishe Srabon, the director not only played the role of a poet from the Hungry Generation, but also penned down the character’s poems, which were so compelling in both philosophy and critique.