Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi, Javed Akhtar & Others Recite Poems
Poetry to heal you.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the lives of millions across the world. As people struggle to not fall into despair as they’re locked up inside their homes for over a month now, celebrities are coming together to make the fight easier. Anhad, a voluntary organisation that “works for questions of democracy, constitutional values, diversity and gender rights” has put up a Music and Poetry series, and a number of notable names came forward to be a part of it to help people cope with the quarantine and social distancing.
Amongst the performers were Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak Shah who did an excellent recital of Vikram Seth’s The Elephant & The Tragopan. Talking about why they chose this specific poem to recite, they spoke about how the Earth has been healing while human beings are in lockdown, proving how “The Earth can go on perfectly without us human beings. And ironically it is we who seem to be doing our best to destroy its inhabitants and loot its resources. That’s the main concern of the poem.” said Naseeruddin.
Meanwhile, Javed Akhtar also recited his poems, and also spoke about the dangers of misinformation, addressing how just as it is problematic for people to believe that bombs are made in madrasas, the same way it is self-destructive to attack doctors coming to help you - all of which he says come out of false information. He also condemned vigilantes out to attack people on the streets.
Shabana Azmi also recited poetry by her father Kaifi Azmi, including Makaan, which she explains he wrote while spending time with labourers. She spoke about its relevance today, and how those who build our houses don’t have anything for themselves. Just as today we see our migrant labourers are suffering during the pandemic.
As the lockdown further extends till May 3rd, it is important to cling to all that makes you feel whole. While we must not pressure ourselves to be productive in times of turmoil, it is helpful to make art, and remind ourselves of the things that make us happy.
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