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Fast Paced Hindi Poetry Ties the Audience Up in Knots!

From left: Gajendra Solakni; Sudeep Bhola and Sunil Jogi gave hilarious performances at the Hasya Kavi Sammelan

From left: Gajendra Solakni; Sudeep Bhola and Sunil Jogi gave hilarious performances at the Hasya Kavi Sammelan. Photos: Sanjay Sohoni

By Jawahar Malhotra

HOUSTON: It was rapid-fire delivery of Hindi poetry, with metaphors, rhymes, similes, idioms and jest to be provocative, cajoling, delightful – and above all, amusing – as the three poets had the audience from the get-go. If you were nurtured on a staple of Hindi movies and songs but little else in the way of the written Hindi language or literature, then you could have easily been lost in the cascade of seldom-words and complex structure of expressions that were thrown out at you.

The boards of the International Hindi Association Houston Chapter and the India Culture Center posed with the three poets and IHA president Swapan Dhairyawan (back row, center).

The boards of the International Hindi Association Houston Chapter and the India Culture Center posed with the three poets and IHA president Swapan Dhairyawan (back row, center).

But the audience tittered and laughed throughout the night as the words and the way they came at you, as much through the body language of the poets as the essence of their conveyance. And, even if you didn’t understand each verse – there were many for whom Hindi is not their first language – you realized that there was something funny that was said when the person next to you tittered.

This10th annual Hasya Kavi Sammelan (Laughing Poet’s Society) was as much an effort in re-visiting the national language of the Old Country as it was to follow the behaviors and mannerisms trending in India these days and on which the poets based their material. Their poetry, in true desi style, came out in verse and lilting song and was equal parts patriotic, absurd, mocking but always engaging, for a non-stop 150 minutes and the audience was kept convulsing with laughter.

Young kids performed a bhajan in Hindi before the show

Young kids performed a bhajan in Hindi before the show

The panel of poets consisted of Padma Shri Sunil Jogi, Gajendra Solanki and Sudeep Bhola who have been on a tour of 22 US cities in 40 days, sponsored by the IHA; and performed in front of the largest audience of over 500 in Atlanta. Bhola started out by saying that he was groomed for this type of work since he was 4 years-old and Solanki quipped that since he was in Space City, then maybe NASA should send a Hindi poet up next time?

Gajendra Solanki of New Delhi is a true performance artist with his loud and animated delivery of comic poetry and satire over the last three decades at over 2,000 kavi sammelan across the world. He is also an acclaimed writer of philosophy, nature, patriotism, politics, society, education, religion, spiritualism and over 400 geet, chanda, and muktak.

Sudeep Bhola, born in Jabalpur district in Madhya Pradesh is famous for his comic and patriotic poems and comic and quick-paced performances on stage of satire that provokes audiences to laugh breathlessly.  He has performed at 1500 kavi sammelan and on many Indian TV shows.

Sunil Jogi, born in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, is an Indian author, poet of comic verses and the chairman of the Hindustani Academy, a post holding the rank of a Minister of State in the Government of Uttar Pradesh. He has a masters and doctorate in Hindi literature, is the author of over 75 books and in 2015 received the Government of India’s Padma Shri, the fourth highest Indian civilian award.

The event was organized, once again, by the local chapter of the International Hindi Association in conjunction with the India Culture Center and held again this year at India House on Friday, May 26, Before the presentation, arriving guests were treated to a Chowpatty style dinner of pav-bhaji and uttapam (catered by Madras Pavilion restaurant) during the social hour.

The main hall filled close to capacity in rows of chairs as an estimated 320 people sat in eager anticipation. The founder of the push for Hindi awareness in Houston and current chapter director, Sangeeta Pasrija, and IHA national president Swapan Dhairaywan welcomed the crowd in the shudh (pure) Hindi that they are both versatile in and known for. Dhairyawan reminded everyone to come to the IHA’s 18th National Convention in Dallas in September which will feature the noted famous Hindi poet Surendra Sharma. The entire evening was conducted in Hindi, except for a few occasional English words.

The ceremonial lamps were lit by Pallavi Dhairyawan and Saroj Upadhaya and then a group of six young kids, ages 7 to 11, stood before the stage to recite a bhajan – “he bhagwan, tujhe parnam” – that they had learnt in 12 weeks of Hindi instruction from their teacher Sangeeta Gupte. A dedicated IHA and ICC volunteer, Rajiv Bhavsar and his wife Bella were honored for their service with gifts of shawls and a ring.

ICC President Falguni Gandhi welcomed the guests in complicated Hindi which had many searching for their dictionaries! Chapter President Dr. K.D. Upadhaya, who is not shy to voice his emotions and has been known to spontaneously breakout in song and dance, spoke about the role that the IHA was taking in spreading the Hindi language and its cultural heritage, and lamented the difficulty in raising money for its efforts. “Hindi is not poor, we should work to serve Hindi,” he declared. Pasrija introduced Upadhaya as the one who encouraged her first sammelan, saying he bought 30 tickets and said he would bring 50 people, and did!

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One Response to Fast Paced Hindi Poetry Ties the Audience Up in Knots!

  1. Darshak Thacker June 2, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    This was such a nice event by ICC & IAH and I enjoyed providing live sounds for this event with my Darshak Thacker & Krishna Sounds Team at my favorite location India House Houston
    Thank you Indo American News for nice coverage

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