Chandigarh Sahitya Akademi has once again brought people together to appreciate poetry that cuts across all borders of age and class. Judging from the numbers thronging the Punjab Kala Bhavan, the Hasya Kavi Sammelan organized by CSA this evening was a great success. If Surendra Sharma, the cheif artist at today’s event was a crowd-puller, the other members of his team were equally talented and their performance went down very well with the audience.
The programme began with Master Mahendra who began by poking fun at his own emaciated appearance and then proceeded to regale the audience with poem after poem recited in a strong Haryanvi accent. “Manney key laat khani hai?” (“Do I wish to be kicked in the butt?”) had the audience in splits.
Ashok Swatantra was equally amusing, particularly with his poem on a bus-conductor’s wedding which described how professional habits die hard; in this case, the bus-conductor of the poem takes his official duties to the wedding ceremony in a manner that he is less of a bridegroom and more of the bus-conductor he has always been!
Sita Sagar, who is a professor of Sanskrit, a poet of note and gifted with a melodious voice, won everybody’s hearts with a long-winded rhythmic poem on Chandigarh which summed all the features of the City Beautiful.
Many of the poems recited this evening carried a social message. They focused on changing socio-cultural patterns, the loss of values, and the break-up of a familiar way of life. Baghi Chacha had a touching poem about a man’s relationship with a son who grows up and leaves him and a tree that remains rooted in his courtyard.
Ash Karan Atal, poet from Bombay, had a different brand of humour as he compared himself with former PM, Atal Bihari Vajpayee (with whom he shares 1/3d of his name, as he put it). He had the listeners floored as he recited “Highway ke Humdum”.
The grande finale came with the star artist, Surendra Sharma who held the gathering mesmerized for the rest of the evening. Each line that he uttered was punctuated with a resounding applause from the audience as he, through gentle satire, and in the manner of Addison, enlivened morality with wit and tempered with with morality. Mr Sharma uses laughter as a tool for bringing about social reform. According to him, what we need today is not religion but philanthropy. Known for his subtle and not-so-subtle jibes targeting the institution of marriage, Shri Surendra ji poked fun at men and women, not even sparing himself. Laughter,he believes, is the best medicine and can work wonders in bringing normalcy back to a fragmented world.
Today’s session of laughter and verse was appreciated by the audience that clamoured for more. CSA will continue to hold events for the city and looks forward to bringing people together again in its forthcoming events.