Hindi Poet Pallavi Mahajan On Self-Reflection, Vulnerability, And Less Female Voices In Spoken Word Poetry
- IWB Post
- November 19, 2019
William Wordsworth described poetry as the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings, which takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility. And in sync with the thought, I for one believe that in each one of us resides a poet. Simply by virtue of the fact that it isn’t what and how well you write that makes you a writer, but the act of writing.
We all think – some of us a little too much – and we also experience a wide range of emotions, but what a lot of us forget to do, or don’t do as often, owing to our busy lives and myriad of distractions, is sit by ourselves and reflect upon our thoughts and emotions. And, to let them feelings flow.
From the time I have a memory of, I have heard my mum talk about the importance of self-reflection. And while I may not have understood its true meaning until a decade ago, with time widened my horizon. Still learning and finding my way around it, but the very act of sitting myself down, makes it somewhat possible and easier to understand and embrace the good the bad the happy the sad. A lot of my personal writing revolves around the small doses of calm born out of those windows!
So when I first came across Pallavi Mahajan’s poem ‘Sukoon Ki Talaash Mein’, which talks about finding peace within, quite naturally, it struck a chord with me. Upon digging more, I found that her said piece on the ‘ever-elusive peace in modern day lives’ evoked the same feeling in every listener, including actor-writer Farhan Akhtar, who shared it on his Instagram with the caption: A beautiful and thought provoking rendition by Pallavi Mahajan.
Pallavi writes in Hindi, and her poems speak of life and its various facets; with enough reasons and much zest, I wrote to her to learn more about how the weaving of thoughts and observations came about for her. An endodontist by profession, she says, “I chose Dentistry, Poetry chose me. And you don’t let go of something that chooses you”.
She sees herself as a beginner, and that humility ensures a long beautiful journey in my opinion. Come let’s have Pallavi share with us more about her connect with words and experiences so far:
When did you start penning your thoughts?
I am writing from the time I was in school. When I was in class eight, a competition was to happen in which we had to recite a self-written poem; called Swarachit Kavita Sammelan. It was for that that I wrote my first poem, titled ‘Benaam Zindagi’, and it bagged me the first prize. So yes, that’s where it began.
What is poetry to you?
Poetry is happiness to me. It is my savior, the thing that completes me. When I am feeling low, it makes me happy, and when I am feeling happy, it makes me happier. That is the place writing occupies in my life. It also keeps me grounded, because when I read I realize that there’s so much more that I need to explore. Poetry makes me happy, strong, confident, and more humane.
237 Likes, 4 Comments – pallavi mahajan (@palpoetry) on Instagram: “#yourquoteapp #relatableAF”
Does sharing your poems with the world ever had you feeling vulnerable?
Hmmm. This is a tough one. To be honest, I see it as a gift, my ability to give words to my emotions. But there are a few pieces that I have never shared on stage, and perhaps never will. “Kuchh kisse bas mere hain.. mere liye hain” (some stories are only mine.. and for myself).
What I choose to read on stage are not thoughts born from my personal experiences; those remain in my diary. My spoken word pieces are mostly my observation-based thoughts. Though a lot of times, people do draw up a conclusion that I might be sad, or hurt, but I don’t give much attention to it. If I start thinking too much about all this, I won’t be able to connect.
Drawing context from your piece ‘Sukoon Ki Talaash Mein’ – what is your way of connecting with your inner self?
It has to be the time when I am writing. I normally talk to myself while I write, and as a result, end up having conversations with self, which unknowingly help me find answers to questions that are embedded deep within. Writing for me is something that calms me down, and the end result is attainment of sukoon (peace).
3,258 Likes, 139 Comments – pallavi mahajan (@palpoetry) on Instagram: “This masterpiece.. shared and loved by all.. this is a small clip.. see the full one in IGTV link.”
An Endodontist by profession, how do you strike the ‘work-passion’ balance?
Performing poetry and practicing dentistry started simultaneously for me, and I honestly consider myself a beginner in both; still learning to keep both of them going hand in hand.
Your poems are mostly in Hindi. A word of advice on how millennials can be drawn towards Hindi poetry?
I wouldn’t call it advice, but writing in a language that one is comfortable with is very important. Only then can you draw a connect. Because if you are not connected with your words, it is bound to reflect somewhere in your performance.
Indian audience is definitely more receptive to Hindi as a language, but still I’d say, write for yourself first and then think about people.
With the introduction of ‘spoken word’ format, the opportunities w.r.t poetry have increased manifold. What are your thoughts on it?
Yes, definitely. Spoken word has provided a platform to writers where they become the performer, take the lead role, and narrate their story themselves. It is a good change because as it is turning out, writers are proving themselves as good performers too.
#hindipoetry #fatherdaughter #hindi #poetrycommunity #poetryspeaks #palpoetry #writersofinstagram #writer
1,059 Likes, 20 Comments – pallavi mahajan (@palpoetry) on Instagram: “#hindipoetry #fatherdaughter #hindi #poetrycommunity #poetryspeaks #palpoetry #writersofinstagram…”
Like it holds true for many art fields, has gender inequality found its way to poetry too?
So far, I haven’t faced anything in that regard. But yes, one thing that you’ll see overall, be it in the audience or amongst the performers, female faces or voices are much less.
And lastly, how was your experience of performing in the presence of Kamla Bhasin at Your Voice 5.0. Did you get to interact and exchange some thoughts?
Kamla ma’am is an inspiration. I still remember how taken over I was with her humility. She arrived on time and stayed till the end, appreciating every artist. You don’t see famous personalities do that very often.
When I first got told that I had to perform in front of her, I actually went on YouTube to watch her interviews, and then decided to recite “khudgarz”, which she later shared on her social media. I didn’t have a personal interaction with her, but she did recite her work and shared her thoughts, that left the audience and myself moved and in awe. We need more people and role models like her!
“Please don’t leave something you are gifted with. Consider yourself blessed and pursue it with confidence.”