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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Take their word for it

A festival in the Capital brings together new-age poets and storytellers.

Written by Surbhi Gupta | November 28, 2019 6:45:47 am
Spoken Fest delhi, Spoken Fest delhi venue, Hindustani Musalman, Swanand Kirkire, Kausar Munir, delhi poetry slams, events in delhi, delhi news The authenticity of voices takes the conversations beyond the mundane.

Sadak par cigarette peetey waqt, jo azaan sunai di mujhko, toh yaad aya… toh yaad aya ki waqt hai kya aur baat zahan mein yeh aayi — main kaisa Musalman hun bhai? This is how Hussain Haidry opens his poem Hindustani Musalman, the video of which went viral two years ago. The spoken word poet and lyricist, who hails from Indore, left his corporate job to pursue career in writing and poetry. He will be in Delhi this weekend to perform at Spoken Fest, that “celebrates words, voices and stories”. Gaurav Tripathi will also take the stage, who is known for his poems Lord Ram in Court and Ghalib in Jail, along with Amandeep Singh whose videos garner millions of views online, and he is still remembered as that guy who hosted his college fest at KIIT Odisha. And there will also be Priya Malik, who will take people back in time with her piece 2019 mein 1999, and recite her hard-hitting feminist pieces. The audience will also hear well-known lyricists Swanand Kirkire and Kausar Munir recite their poems.

The Spoken Fest was first held in Mumbai last year at BKC’s JioGarden and drew large crowds. “We were very keen to bring it here. The weather in Delhi is perfect at this time and we have seen a lot of interest in spoken word at our local chapter,” says Roshan Abbas, co-founder of Kommune, the performance art collective organising the festival. Apart from poetry, the fest will also see rappers Prabh Deep, Ahmer and Sumit Roy take the stage, and music bands such as Parvaaz and Alif and singers Saby Singh, Sangeeta Bhattacharya, among others.

The origins of this festival lie in an informal meeting in a Mumbai flat, in 2014, which led to the formation of the collective. “Gaurav (Kapur), Ankit (Tiwari) and I met with the intention of creating a platform to promote performing arts, and after much brainstorming with our friends, we decided to create a storytelling channel. It is low cost and we wanted to see if India is ready for it,” says Abbas, who sent out an email to 30 friends seeking their opinion, and later found a one-hour window at a dance and yoga studio to hold open mic sessions. “The first time we did it, we felt that the authenticity of the story, the vulnerability and the honesty with which they spoke, it transcended normal conversation and entertainment. Some of it felt like therapy, like catharsis,” he says. Soon they started putting videos online and holding slam sessions. Some of their initial pieces that went viral included Khan and Khanna by Mini Mathur, Dear Mom by Shamir Reuben and Single Women are Bad Women by Sandhya Mridul.

It has now become one of the many platforms for budding poets and writers to express themselves. “At the festival, people can expect anecdotal comedy, and lots of good music,” says Abbas, who will narrate some of his favourite memories of Delhi.

The festival is on November 30 and December 1, 11 am to 10 pm, at DLF Promenade, Vasant Kunj. Tickets on

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