The petals of poetry and performing arts was perhaps too ambitious
It was an avant-garde event that defied definition. A melange of Urdu and English poetry, with an interplay of dance, music and the soaring voice of Sufi singer Zila Khan. On a warm Friday evening with lightening and thunder threatening a storm, the audience sat at the edge of their seats for the event conceptualised by Mohammad Ali Baig. The storm passed by, a lone star twinkled overhead and Kabir Bedi began with his deep baritone apologising for his disconnect with Urdu.
He began with Ali Sardar Jaffri's Haaton ka Tarana, an ode to hand, the magic of hand which can turn soil into gold and silver into payal. It was an interplay of imagination of the poet who uses the reality as a metaphor for conveying the nature of creativity and the evolution of civilisation
If the words of the poet Ali Sardar Jaffri gave wings to imagination, Kabir Bedi brought it down to earth with his humble recitation that stumbled and fumbled. He bravely soldiered on, the audience loved his presence, his voice and memories of his greatness. But if you understood Urdu or understand the spirit of poetry it would have made you cringe. Imagine the emotive soaring lines of Aap Beeti and see the lines being read from a paper like a studious student reciting multiplication tables! Once Kabir Bedi was done with the reading of the poem, Zila Khan sang in her stentorian voice trying to create a waning magic; it didn't work.
Perhaps it was a sad commentary on our one-language culture where we try to grasp the magic of one of our most beautiful languages through translations and commentary. Perhaps the idea was not to err in this age of instant googlised pedantry, but the very spirit of the event was lost the moment the performer held up the paper to read from it.
Even when Juhi Babbar moved on from Urdu to English, reading the poems of Sarojini Naidu that included Vision of Love andMenace of Love, she had a paper in her palm and she emoted with her other hand.
Then, like a break in darkness, Vani Ganapathy took the stage and danced to create the mood of the poem. Then the darkness was all-enveloping.
The setting of a dark background of minarets and turrets that evoke Hyderabad and its culture created by M.S. Sathyu echoed the times we live in and the poems that were recited. Even Anupam Kher could not salvage the situation in the company of Rahul Sharma. Pity.
Keywords: poetry recitation