I remember the day it began. I was an apprehensive first year student at Patna University, just done with the end of the year examination off to answer Anchit’s call to meet up. Reminiscing about that event five years later while Anchit gave off his opening speech at the inaugural screening of our longest motion poem yet- ‘Ek Shahar ki Yaadein’ made me almost question my apprehension. Almost! For you see reader, it might come as a surprise to you that we the veritable founders of Commonplace, atleast Anchit and I, had never before, that hesitant (on my part) rendezvous at Darbhanga House, met apart from sharing a few conversations on the phone. I still wonder the secret ingredient behind the solidarity we seem to share despite having different world views; at times conflicting too.
After understandably awkward introductions we talked about the subject in which I was but a rank amateur. The other three, if they were aware of my glaring lack of any cultural capital did not express it. Especially Asiya, who as if Socrates reborn wouldn’t be dissuaded of the notion that she, before Jon Snow had even made the phrase popular, knew nothing. And thus was our group formed to bring together the wandering ‘knowers of nothing’ and in that process gain something, anything.
In the screening of our latest venture, a brand new motion poem, we had managed to bring together some experienced literary faces but that is not an achievement we are overly proud of. That the screening was done in the presence of children and young adults who would in the future apprehensively meet new faces, form new groups, talk about literature and generally work together to ensure that the literary culture of the city shall stay with the mass, for it is these children who, we knew the moment we decided to screen our film at Kilkari, shall be like us, a part of the amorphous mass.
Back when Anchit and I used to meet at unlikelier places like the ghats (all of them) or Gandhi Maidan; back when Silversands, the residue of our first meet in the form of a literary journal, was just published and the idea of a bilingual newsletter, later to be baptized as Hearth, was under construction we met Utkarsh, a student like us trembling with melancholy for the city. Our talks now burned but gave off the warmth of smoldering embers in front of which during winters people find themselves huddled together to bask. We loved our city and we hated it all the same. The city broke us and it remade us. And during nights in the tranquil moments of our individual recollection, while the sun had bled to birth the moon and the evening sky overhead turned black with morbid sorrow, we had realized all in our own unique way that we were not the only ones. The treacherous passage of time which in cities calls itself history had broken more than it had made. Something had changed and nothing had. ‘After such knowledge, what forgiveness?’
We had lost something and we needed to express it, we needed to hear the people, the ones broken express it and thus the idea of motion poems. An emotive medium of our expression in which words, music and moving pictures said things with such glaring obviousness that to shy away from it is to withdraw from our resonating self. Betarteeb was the first motion poem that delved within the poet’s inner self so as to unravel the intricacies of human anxiety. ‘Ek Shahar ki Yaadein’ on the other hand is a journey outwards. By this time the poet within had lost its sense of ‘ego’ and had learnt to project its anxiety on the outside to its muse the city. The ‘ego’ by this time was a solemn self that had made peace with its brokenness. Just like we at commonplace have now gone beyond personal prejudices to bring together all those who strive to express themselves not only via poetry but other art forms as well. Our website and blog are reserved for these new voices. ‘To love, and bear; to hope till Hope creates from its own wreck the thing it contemplates; Neither to change, nor falter, nor repent;’
And these motion poems? It is only another step forward.
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