We Indians love showbiz, especially Bollywood, and since I had been a witness to near stampedes for the past three years, whenever a celebrity from the film fraternity visited JLF, so I grabbed my seat an hour before the start of the session.
The hosts were looking towards the aisle, expecting Prasoon Joshi to enter from there. A loud round of applause reverberated in the auditorium and a visibly amused Puneeta saw Prasoon comfortably perched on the chair beside her. Dressed in black, Prasoon lit up the stage with his smile.
Prasoon waxed eloquent about how Almora’s natural beauty (Where he grew up) and the mountains were his first friends and how they had deeply influenced his poetry. No surprises then that he wrote his first poesy when he was only 15! Prasoon, now a doting father to a young girl also revealed that he had his baby girl in mind when he writing the lyrics of the song ‘Taare Zameen Par’, There, that explains the line “Angdaai le phir karvat badal ke…”, and the rest he said was history.
His simplicity struck a chord with the audience and it’s no wonder then that his songs flow like a clear stream and their simplicity radiates in the hearts of his listeners.
Puneeta questioned him about securing a prosaic MBA degree… Pat came the reply, ‘everybody loves to listen to poetry but nobody wants to pay for it. “Poetry to mujhe paal nahi sakti thi isliye mujhe hi poetry ko paalna pada.” This reminded me of a quote by a former British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan who had said “If you want to write poetry, you have to earn your living some other way.”
Prasoon candidly admitted that the advertisers use hyperbole to sell their products but they don’t lie. They attach an emotion with a product and the product becomes a brand. He said the consumer should be wise enough to choose his product- I felt that this line should be put as a statutory warning for all those who blindly follow their fashion and beauty icons. When asked if he would make a commercial on a fairness creams, he said he uses ethical filters and would not promote hazardous tobacco products or the racist fairness creams. (clap, clap!)
Prasoon Joshi was like a whiff of fresh air to discerning minds. No one was untouched by the simplicity of his words and his conviction to remain above board in an otherwise corrupted environment of Bollywood where sleaze sells. I felt that it is only appropriate that a poet of his calibre should be thanked poetically and I recited a poem by another senior poet Kuldip Salil.
Khushboo aur khushiyon ki mehfil, apne saath tumhi se hai
Baatein to hoti rehti hain, banti baat tumhi se hai
Tum jab nahi bhi hote ho,
hota hai sabkuch yon to,
Bijli hoti, badal hote par barsaat tumhi se hai