The Mansarovar Project: Reviving Urdu Poems + Prose via Youtube

Anyone who thinks that Urdu or Hindi poetry is dead, needs to spend some time watching the Mansarovar Project.

Launched by Pune-based Shivam Sharma and his friend Anant Nath Sharma, the project aims to showcase lesser-known Hindi and Urdu poems, by interpreting them through creative videos.

How did The Mansarovar Project begin?

It all started with a poem.

“Living in a household that contained plenty of poetry books meant that eventually I found a tattered copy of Ramdhari Singh Dinkar’s ‘Rashmirathi’ at my home when I was in 6th standard, and I fell completely in love with it,” says Shivam.

As he grew up, he started writing, trying to figure out his own voice and putting his thoughts on paper. Then, he wrote a poem titled ‘Tu Kavita Ho Jaana.’ Perusaded by his friends to record it, he decided to upload it to Instagram, little expecting the tremendous response to it. Realizing that there were plenty of people interested in Urdu or Hindi poetry, Shivam released the same poem as a video shot by his friend Anant – the first video of The Mansarovar Project.

How do they decide upon a concept for the video?

The videos that accompany the poems are a little series of vignettes, each capturing the essence of the verses.

“We read and re-read the poems multiple times. Then we bounce off the images we are seeing as we read it to each other,” explains Shivam. “Anant and I try and settle down on the major theme and the emotion we want to get out of the words we are reading and compose a tune for the same.”

Sometimes, however, an image will inspire a poem. “For example, I saw a fair happening in a nearby ground and was fascinated by it,” Shivam says. “We wanted to use images from the fair, so we thought of a poem that would do justice to it, and decided upon a Mirza Ghalib nazm as the perfect accompaniment.”

What next for the project?

“We are still finding our space, as we don’t really fit in to the ‘singing’ or ‘poetry performance’ categories, “says Shivam. “And finding people who do like what we’re doing has been a real surprise and motivation to do better. We recently did our first live gig in BITS Hyderabad and played to an audience of 100 odd people. The response was overwhelming to say the least so we certainly do want to do more of these.”

The duo also say that they will upload more videos on their channel, with more originals of their own as well as pieces by new Hindu poets. “There is a lot of good writing happening and it’s a good time to be doing what we are doing,” he concludes.

Watch The Mansarovar Project on Youtube and follow them on Facebook, Twitter  and Instagram.

Words by Pavi Sagar


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Enter Captcha *