Discovering दुष्यन्त कुमार

These lines below, are from a song we sing every morning before the beginning of any professional development program with government school teachers . We call it the ‘Chetna Geet’. Together as we sing this, we pray for resilience, for courage to change the things we can, we pray for hope to sustain the motivation we gather while training and working with each other and we pray for strength to  be able to do justice to the aspirations of children who walk into our classrooms.

When I heard this for the first time, I wanted to know who had penned these verses and that’s how I stumbled upon the magical verses of Dushyant Kumar.

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इस नदी की धार में ठंडी हवा आती तो है,
नाव जर्जर ही सही, लहरों से टकराती तो है।

एक चिनगारी कही से ढूँढ लाओ दोस्तों,
इस दिए में तेल से भीगी हुई बाती तो है।

एक खंडहर के हृदय-सी, एक जंगली फूल-सी,
आदमी की पीर गूंगी ही सही, गाती तो है।

एक चादर साँझ ने सारे नगर पर डाल दी,
यह अंधेरे की सड़क उस भोर तक जाती तो है।

निर्वचन मैदान में लेटी हुई है जो नदी,
पत्थरों से, ओट में जा-जाके बतियाती तो है।

दुख नहीं कोई कि अब उपलब्धियों के नाम पर,
और कुछ हो या न हो, आकाश-सी छाती तो है।

इस नदी की धार में ठंडी हवा आती तो है,
नाव जर्जर ही सही, लहरों से टकराती तो है।

Aur kuch ho ya na ho….aakash si chaati toh hai. Naav jarjar hi sahi lehron se takrati toh hai..

A couple of months ago, I heard a beautiful song from film ‘Masaan‘ and I was struck by the brilliance of two lines in the song. These lines were so magical and insightful that I was convinced, they had to be coming from a different time, a different era of love and so I dug deeper. And yet again, the search led me to Dushyant Kumar. Scriptwriter and lyricist of Masaan, Varun Grover speaks in this article of life  in UP, studying in BHU and growing up on Hindi poetry (of Kumar and many more) and how it has influenced his writing process. The lines that set me off on this search were;

तू किसी रेल सी गुज़रती है
मैं किसी पुल्ल सा.. थरथराता हूँ

Singer : Swanand Kirkire

Music : Indian Ocean

It was just these two lines that I heard and I knew there had to be someone truly exceptional behind these words. Rest of the song is beautiful too though interestingly, these are the only two lines Varun Grover has picked up from Dushyant Kumar’s ghazal. Swanand Kirkire’s rendition does justice to it. I haven’t yet watched Masaan but I’ve heard great reviews of the movie.

And day before yesterday, someone on our team shared this beautiful poem – Ho gayi hai peer parvat si. Pegged in the context of systemic change in education, the way it connected to work, brought in a fresh, new wave of inspiration. Powerful words, compelling thoughts….Dushyant Kumar working his magic again.

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I remember being crazy about Hindi poetry in grade 9 and 10. What I would give to get back those CBSE Hindi text books.This sudden surge of love for Hindi poems was unusual for me because it was a subject I had always fared poorly in. But in the 9th grade, I got a wonderful teacher in school and a great tutor back home. It transformed the way I approached the subject. I learnt almost 18-20 poems in those two years, even when I didn’t have to. I read and recited with love, the poems of Ramdhari Singh ‘Dinkar’,  Harivansh Rai Bacchan, Mahashweta devi and many more. It’s an admirable quality, I’ve always felt, to have the ability to speak a language, any one language with purity… without  feeling the need to support it or mix with other languages. Not by design, but purely by default, I’m feeling drawn back to magic of Hindi and Urdu poetry in the last few months.

Not related to Dushyant Kumar, but talking in the same vein about language, purity and mastery over it, I highly recommend journalist Ravish Kumar’s 45 minute show on NDTV — which was an incredibly brave attempt at redefining ethics in Indian journalism. In the age of Arnab Goswamis’ where everyday journalism is generously and shamelessly poisoned with opinions, biases and noise in the name of news, media persons like Ravish Kumar are like a much needed breath of fresh air. This is an extremely rare union on television in recent times, of mastery of language meeting substance of content

Enjoy!

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