Filmmaker Manish Gupta is in Bhopal to record a few videos of some poems in Hindi and Urdu being recited by Madhya Pradesh-based writers.
Gupta, currently based in Mumbai has two YouTube channels - Hindi Kavita and Urdu Studio. Both the channels have been liked by film artistes, critics and art lovers. The channels feature famous Hindi poems and Urdu shayaris recited by eminent people from the film and art fraternity.
“I have worked with IT companies, made documentaries, films, television shows, I also did painting for some time, I ran a night-club on Miami beach, but nothing felt more satisfying than doing this,” said Gupta while talking to HT.
Born in Betul district, Gupta studied in Indore. “Those were the days (90s) when we it was cool to speak English. I remember fighting with my girlfriend in English, we used to listen to English songs and English was the thing. I studied computer science and moved to the US.”
He said, “When I came back to India, I produced a few TV shows and did some films too and left everything and for nearly eight months I was doing nothing until one day a bunch of friends from the art world were at my place and I had just finished reading Kamayani by Jayshankar Prasad. After a series of casual discussions on it and other books, we all decided to move forward with something like this and then Hindi Kavita and Urdu Studio happened.”
Several artistes including Manoj Bajpai, Swara Bhaskar, Tom Alter, Sudheer Mishra, Saurabh Shukla, Imtiaz Ali, Vinay Pathak, Shilpa Shukla, Naseeruddin Shah and Rajendra Gupta have recited poems for the YouTube channels.
On being asked about the selection of poems, Gupta says, “We have a panel of eminent writers like Vishnu Khare, Ashok Vajpeyi, Naresh Saxena and others who guide us.”
Ask him about his crew, he says, “All are volunteers. I get joined by people where I go. At Mumbai, when the narrators come to my place, they do not feel surprised seeing my maid manning the camera and lights.”
Rajesh Joshi, a writer from Bhopal, on being part of the project, says, “I recorded a few poems with Gupta when I was in Mumbai and I liked the concept. It is a novel idea to popularise Hindi and Urdu literature.”
Gupta says, “I don’t hate English, I just have a problem that we are giving it more leverage than Hindi. But seeing the interest for Hindi in top B-schools and universities of India, I am sure Hindi is soon going to be the new ‘hot’ and English the new ‘normal’.”
Gupta aims to go beyond curating the YouTube channel and make this into a movement. And he wants students to take this forward.
Apart from championing Hindi poetry and Urdu literature, Gupta has another YouTube channel dedicated to Punjabi poetry.