Written by Sumedha Sharma
A growing number of young people in Chandigarh are using creative mediums like poetry, theatre and music to talk about the politics of our times, changing social milieus, common concerns, rights and freedom. And the platforms for this are open mic events. Engaging with people from various walks of life and age groups to make them politically and socially aware, are members of open mic platforms like Nojoto, Rhythms of Rhyme, Cross Connection Poetree, which use public spaces like the Sukhna Lake, parks of the city, Sector 17 Plaza, quaint cafes, Indira Holiday Home etc. to initiate conversation.
‘’Zara suno! Yeh desh mein kya chal raha hai. Gareeb ki thali mein do waqt ki roti aayi. Bullet train ki raftar se badhti hai mehngayi. Rahul ki bajti pungi aur Modi ki lehrein aayi. Ab desh ka kalyan bhagwaan bharose hai mere bhai.. Jhoothe kasmein waadon ka pahad ban raha hai. Shayad election ka mahaul ban raha hai,” recited Akhil Arora, a journalism student of Chandigarh University, at an open mic event organised recently in Chandigarh.
Himanshu Arora, an advocate in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, a poet and YouTuber, uses poetry to express his views on current issues and also to appeal to the youth to exercise to vote with responsibility. “Desh mein bhaagidar bankar, kuch to accha kijia. Nivedan bas itna hai, matdaan avashya dijia. Kisko vijay banana hai, kisko dena ghaav hai. Bus isika naam to chunav hai,” he said.
‘Zayada Soch Kar Kya Karna’, a satire on political debates by Somya Thakur, a law student from Chandigarh University and poet, has received a resounding response from the public during performances at open mic platforms like Nojoto. “School and college students are attempting to understand politics and dare to openly express their perceptions and ideology through poetry, songs, storytelling. These are the leaders of tomorrow. More and more young people are expressing their strong views on issues like politics, democracy, Kashmir and we welcome them to Nojoto. They not only share, but also instill a sense of responsibility in the youth,” says Satyaprem Upadhyay, CEO of Nojoto.
Rhythms of Rhyme, an open mic team formed in 2015, has organised more than 15 events in the Tricity. “The objective of poetry is to provoke independent thinking and expand the consciousness of the individual mind. It is not meant to hand out opinions to fulfil people’s needs for agendas and ideologies. It is not to create followers, but thinkers,” said Nosheen Kapoor, founder, Rhythms of Rhyme. The open mic sessions, added Kapoor, have a large following, including teenagers and young adults, with as many as 4,300 community members on Facebook.
Amy Singh, a poet and author and the co-founder of ‘Cross Connection Poetree’, said the large turnout and fresh ideas show that the young are aware, empathetic to what surrounds them, mature to make conscious decisions as voters and courageous enough to raise strong questions through their art.
“The young initiate a dialogue, question authority and register their protests through this medium. Our idea of taking poetry events to public places is to connect with people and real issues. Words are weapons that can help us to build a society we want. We want to strive for change through our art,” reflected Singh.