March 08, 2014: Movie, music, marshmallows, free verse and a bonfire to keep your heart warm were the makings of PopSplat’s first community event, Urban Bonfire #1. Hosted at Bandra’s culture hub, The Hive, a collective of young and established performers across varied arts came together to share their performance and motion arts.
The event started with the screening of filmmaker Rohan Sabharwal’s 50-minute documentary “Where The Heart Is.” The documentary chronicles the culturally rich yet modest Jewish community that has thrived for a millennium or more in Kerala, and yet today, to put it in the simplest of terms is on the brink of extinction. The feature itself presented a very informal, yet a very deep anthropological view of what the community has gone through decade after decade, being a cohesive community that not only assimilated into the traditions of this country, but never, ever forgot it’s original roots. The movie will soon be released online and DVDs will be available for free. There will be a donation option, proceeds from which will go towards the preservation of the community and, it’s arts and culture.
Around the bonfire, we were celebrating fluidity of emotion, in it’s raw, semi-rehearsed and unhinged nature. And we couldn’t have been more proud to see poets and musicians come together around the symbolic bonfire narrating their stories, provoking us to think with our hearts and heads in equal proportion and sway to hip-hop and gypsy jazz music. Poems ranged from odes to Parsis at a New Year’s Eve party ( Shagun Shah) to reminisces of fond moments with loved ones ( Narayani Syal Anand and Unaiza Merchant), to a very interesting take on the political change that the nation is constantly going through (Vineet Garg). Celebrated regulars at monthly Poetry On The Big Mic Alfred Lee, Aalap Davjekar, Tushar Mathew, Saurabh Jain and Nandram Aanand also shared their verses.
Marshmallows soon started roasting over the flames, and as the night went on, the poets amused and entertained, and a short break from the poetry led to a musical performance by the ADM Revival (Acoustic Dance Music Revival). The three-piece gypsy-jazz outfit underlined why it’s a good thing to have music around a bonfire- a minute into their set, the chilling audiences seem to be grooving, just the slightest bit to the music. Given the very European, and specifically Spanish feel that the music entailed, it was also a fitting sight to see more and more cameras coming out to click photos and videos.
Inspired by the poetry of the night, underground hip-hop stars of Enkore and Microphon3 spat free verse in rap and got into an impromptu rap cypher. Enkore spat in English and Microphon3 in Hindi. The kids from ADM Revival soon pitched in with their guitars and renowned slam artist Alfred Lee too joined the battle. Poetry in motion indeed. Lee’s sharp wit and clear delivery seemed to challenge the MCs to up his act. While Microphon3 performed rap as well as poetry, Enkore rather chose to stand up for the rap community. Quite obviously, the contest was a draw.
The night ended with ADM Revival playing a last bit of their set for about 15 more minutes, and were joined for another impromptu vocal jazz jam with painter and musician Cyriac Varghese. Since the entire event was about being a community appreciative of performing art in every sense and form of the term, without a doubt Urban Bonfire was an event that went pretty well, all the shortfalls included. PopSplat will light the fire soon.
Pictures – Sushant sawant