When Pushpendra Misra was growing up in Lucknow in the 1970s and ’80s, poetry, traditional dance, thumris and qawwalis were all around him. Later, as a student at Ahmedabad’s National Institute of Design, he was again surrounded by a variety of cultural influences.
But in Mumbai, where Misra owns and runs Flying Saucer, an advertising agency, he was disappointed to find only popular culture dominating the city’s life.
He wanted to introduce Mumbai to a ‘counter culture’, so this March he launched AntiMatter, a forum that organises public discussions and explores lesser-known genres of culture. On Saturday, AntiMatter will hold its third event, featuring Delhi-based Dastangoi artistes Mahmood Farooqui and Danish Hussain.
“In Mumbai, most people are not familiar with things like Hindi absurd poetry or the plays of Habib Tanvir. I wanted to bring these off-beat cultural influences to Mumbai,” said Misra, 40. “The name of the forum alludes to the pure energy that is created when matter meets anti-matter.”
The main aim of AntiMatter, he said, is to curate conversations between non-commercial artistes in various fields and explore why they do what they do. The first two sessions featured Pakistani folk singers Zeb and Haniya, independent filmmaker Navdeep Singh, Hindustani singer Nageen Tanvir and theatre personality Moloyashree Hashmi.
Saturday’s event will include a discussion on the art of oral storytelling and a short performance of Dastangoi, a form of Urdu storytelling. “Forums like AntiMatter are very good platforms for continuing one’s education,” said Farooqui.
Added Misra, “Everyone has grown used to blockbuster culture in Mumbai. We need some taste as well, and I would like AntiMatter to grow into a larger community.”
The event will be held at Bonobo, Bandra, at 8 pm on Saturday, July 28. Entry is free.