Deccan Chronicle

A new movement in poetry

Deccan Chronicle| Kirubhakar Purushothaman

Published on: October 30, 2016 | Updated on: October 30, 2016

A group of Chennai-based youngsters have been making a series of video poetry, blending the art with visuals.

A still from Naanum Iraivana

A still from Naanum Iraivana

The video poetry culture in Chennai is on the rise. Poetry hitherto has been confined to open-mic events and other poetry reading sessions in the city, but now many youngsters have given another dimension to this literary art by blending it with breathtaking visuals and music. Ishvar Krishnan and team are among the forerunners of this new poetry scene.

The group, as part of their video series ‘Make Word Not War’, has come up with their first episode Naanum Iraivana (Am I A God too?). The poem, written by Ishvar, is abstract in many ways and deals with the social media addictions and subjective reality. However, Ishvar holds himself from passing judgments about such addictions — "I am not saying whether such addictions are right or wrong. Many people create their identity on social media and they might believe that’s their reality. It can be true for them. So, reality is very elusive and confusing. This poem is about that confusion."

He further explains, "On social platforms, we project ourselves as someone who we are not in real life. And end up believing that the projected self is our true identity. In this process, we ‘create’ something. So, I wonder if that makes us gods. That’s why the question ‘Naanum Iraivana?’."

However, they didn’t have much of a trouble to visualise such an abstract concept, according to the director Karthik Balakrishnan. "Spoken word has been going on for a while. Poets read out their writings and it is captured on camera. But we thought of blending it with more music, a suitable environment, and colour," he shares.

He adds, "Everyone in our crew has known each other for a very long time. Our thought processes are similar. Even if we don’t agree with one another, we understand each other pretty well. So, it wasn’t tough to come up with the scenes for Ishvar’s poem."

Steevez Rodriguez, who takes care of the cinematography, seconds Karthik — "I am very familiar with Ishvar’s way of writing since he has worked with us as an editor on many projects before. He has been organising ‘Mockingbird’, an open-mic poetry event and we were brainstorming for a while about how poetry can be adapted as visual montages. That ultimately led us to this new venture.

Lives Go Forth commercial video, which used Charles Bukowski’s poem, was one of the prime inspirations," he says. This whole venture is produced by Mathi of Stray Factory, who himself is into poetry — "Now, comedy sketches are very predominant but poetry is  not pursued by many youngsters because it is perceived as a highbrow art. So, when young lads see their contemporaries doing it, it might inspire them to take it up. That’s the reason we started off with this venture."

Talking about the reception, Mathi says, "I won’t say people are pouring in to watch this video. However, the whole point is not about creating a viral video, but about creating a culture. The people who have seen it have genuinely liked it."
The team will next come up with two episodes — one on communism and  the other will deal with the subject of feminism.

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