“English is the new normal”, says NRI Manish Gupta, currently a Mumbai based film-maker who has made it his business to let everyone know how cool Hindi and Urdu are. His YouTube channels हिंदी कविता and Urdu Studio already have millions falling in love with poetry. No, not his poetry of the best of Hindi and Urdu poets of yesteryears and contemporary both.
He has made feature films, produced TV shows, survived as a painter, ran a night-club in Miami, is a columnist with a leading Indian daily and now has single-handedly revived people’s love for Indian poetry mainly in Hindi and Urdu. His YouTube channels are so cool they call it ‘the coke-studio of poetry’. People in every part of the world are getting addicted to Hindi kavita. His idea has been very simple. He has persuaded best of the talent from the film-industry to recite poems of renowned poets and the result has not been less than magical.
When Manoj Bajpai, Piyush Mishra, Saurabh Shukla, Swara Bhaskar, Shilpa Shukla read poems by Dinkar, Nirala or when you see Tom Alter or Nawab of Lucknow discussing Urdu poetry.. you are taken to a whole new world. This might be the single most unique thing about this project that has everyone talking about it”, says chief editor of Navbharat Times Sundar Thakur, he calls it a major cultural monument. Saurabh Shukla, the renowned actor says, this has brought back the love of poetry in me. And this sentiment resonates in a huge fan following that keeps gathering momentum.
“Personal finances, relationships, social life. All gone for a toss”, Manish says, “but this has been the most fulfilling project of my life. It’s a very personal, very selfish quest. Doing this project is pilgrimage for me. Discovering Hindi, Hindi kavita and the most amazing writers has been a life altering experience. I have no problem with English, it is a great language too. But it is not ours, so we, as human beings, don’t really excel in it, we don’t find the true love, we are unable to self-actualize practicing it. It is very unfortunate for us as a country to not being able to fully love and bloom in our mother tongues. We don’t force anyone to use Hindi, we never give any emotional dose saying ‘hey, you should be using your mother tongue’. We have done everything to make our videos so cool that you are not left with any option but to be in awe of poetry.”
Manish has the support of best of the technicians from film industry to make the videos look and feel amazing. These videos are styled with amazing cinematography, editing and graphics. There an able supports from the great authors and editors who pick and choose what poetry and which authors to cover. And Manish admits that it’s not his project. This is everyone’s project, so many people have come together to make it big.. I am thankful to the authors and the film-industry to support it. This is a singular example of the greatness of the Indian talent. Everything is absolutely desi and a huge number of people are already proud of our legacy, he adds.
How does it feel to be a creator of such a successful project?, I had to ask, ‘to be accredited with revival of Hindi poetry?’
“Success? No, this is just a beginning. This project has taught me that people want to fall in love with their mother tongue. I have learnt that people, deep down, do crave practising their mother tongue. English is hugely popular and it has become the language of basic conduct. But the reality is, it’s not growing, we are a country that still loves it’s filmy/ non-filmy हिंदी songs, movies and TV serials. English is used for basic communication and conduct. We don’t enjoy it as much as Americans and British do. We don’t invent its trends and slangs – they do. So no matter what English language is secondary to us. The psychologists also say that when we use our mother tongue the relationship with the words becomes deeper and more satisfying.
What about the funding?
“I have invested all I got. With the number of celebrities being part of this project there are so many willing to fund it – and I am seriously cringing for money but can’t accept something that has intention of business only. I’m looking for supporters who want to change the ground reality. Who are not looking for short term gains? Who, like me, want to see our mother tongues become (working in Hindi and Urdu but I’m dying to do cover all Indian languages) a source of pride and personal growth. If we all come together, it is not an impossible dream, ah?