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A Wave Of Words

The best poetry from the subcontinent now streaming online

In the diverse literary arts sphere, poetry in particular has an unrivalled charm compared to prose. Its beauty lies in using fewer words to convey profound thoughts and emotions inherent to human nature.

As the English creative genius TS Eliot said, “Poetry may make us from time to time a little more aware of the deeper, unnamed feelings which form the substratum of our being, to which we rarely penetrate; for our lives are mostly a constant evasion of ourselves.”

However, poetry needn’t be restricted to Yeats and Frost. Indian literature contains a vast repository of poetry — one that is often left behind after stepping out of school and college classrooms.

Rekindle the joy of Indian poetry and celebrate World Poetry Day on March 21 through these five YouTube channels offering the best in classic and contemporary Hindi and Urdu poetry.

1. Hindi Kavita

One of the best online resources, Hindi Kavita is perhaps the first channel featuring renowned actors and theatre persons reciting their favourite poems with a professional flourish.

Some of the artists speak briefly about their chosen poems and poets, which makes viewing these professionally shot videos a friendly and highly enriching experience.

Witness Piyush Mishra’s powerful ode to ex-lovers, Surekha Sikri recite Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Manoj Bajpai’s take on Dinkar, and Zeeshan Ayub’s brilliant recital of Nazeer Akbarabadi, and revel in the beauty of India’s poetic legacy.

Check out the channel here.

2. Urdu Studio

From the makers of Hindi Kavita, this channel focuses mainly on recitations of classic Urdu poetry written by luminaries such as Sardar Jafri, Paash, Faiz Ahmad Faiz and Jaun Elia among a hundred others.

All their videos have a visual grace that syncs perfectly with the written word, recited again by famous and lesser-known artists bound by their love for Urdu poetry.

Watch the evergreen Kanwaljit recite Ghalib, Talat Aziz speak about Quli Qutub Shah, and Naseeruddin Shah brood over Faiz’s partition-era poem.

Check out the channel here.

3. YourQuote

Almost 2.5 lakh subscribers follow this channel for its interesting mix of contemporary English, Hindi, and Urdu poetry.

Recitals are recorded from performances at open mic nights and cultural events organised by them.

YourQuote’s democratic setup presents a glimpse into the thoughts and original works of budding writers and poets having their say, far away from the glitzy literary festivals of India.

Storytelling, comedy, and music performances are also featured, but it is poetry by commoners that has largely found a safe house here.

Check out the channel here.

4. Ranjish.com

Whether you like it or not, Pakistan has to feature when we talk about poetry from the subcontinent.

A channel for Urdu poetry and literature lovers, Ranjish aims to be the digital vault for works from the region.

Listen to this searing rendition of Rahat Indori’s love poem and gauge the beauty of Urdu — a language nurtured and loved by people on both sides of the border. Some videos feature translations of Urdu words, which is highly commendable.

Check out the channel here.

5. Mushaira TV

In Urdu literary circles, a mushaira is a public platform for poets and writers to express their opinion, which is often a scathing and truthful commentary on current affairs and events.

This channel dedicated to the lost concept of mushaira and kavi sammelans features recordings of live performances across India — from metropolitan Delhi to rural Bijnore.

An invaluable storehouse of fiery works by local poets and political activists, Mushaira TV can be checked out here.

Image Credit: (1), (2)

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Mineli Goswami is a 24-year-old Assamese-East Indian, which usually translates into pretty good weekend feasts. When she’s not at her desk struggling with poetry – more often than she’d like – she’s seen wasting time on an assortment of things such as lugging an antique SLR, breaking nails climbing boulders, and chasing turtles. She’s graduated in history and has an unofficial PhD in Bandra-style jiving.

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