Multi-faceted artist Neelesh Misra is back with Kaahani Express
Ever since he started writing poems in his fifth grade, he knew his true calling was in creativity. At 44, Mumbai-based Neelesh Misra, a lyricist, scriptwriter, poet, journalist and publisher of a rural newspaper Gaon Connection and a storyteller, is living his dream. He gets to share his experiences with a pool of people across the country through beautiful, heartwarming stories on ‘Kahaani Express’, a show on Saavn, an audio application. The ongoing show features 12 stories in Telugu divided into four segments of 15 minutes each.
This Ramnath Goenka awardee was the screenwriter for Salman Khan-starrer Ek Tha Tiger and also contributed lyrics for various Bollywood songs including the recent hit Jhumritalaiyya from Jagga Jasoos.
Excerpts from the interview:
Where did your creative streak begin? Can you trace the path that got you to where you are today?
In some way, it’s been there since primary school. I used to read a lot back then and also wrote a few poems. Later, during my high school, I wanted to start a magazine. I even wrote a lot of songs for women on their birthdays as a gift. During winters, when my brother and I were home in Nainital, we used to enact Ramleela, drama on the life of Ram. I wanted to do ten things at a time and I did most of it.
You’ve been a part of various projects in different fields. Can you tell us what it is like to be a storyteller, in particular?
Storytelling is not an easy art. There is a lot of thinking that goes into it. The content is created keeping the listeners in mind. Initially, we set up a band. We told the story through different digital platforms. In the beginning, people mocked at us. But now there are around 60-70 million Indians who listen to us and connect to the stories. I think we have been able to trigger something new in a small way.
What are the themes you enjoy talking about in your stories?
Well, there’s nothing much in particular. However, I enjoy satire, relationship, love, comedy and suspense. Stories about unspoken love, unresolved and broken relationships are the centre of my narration. We also give a voice to the unheard. For instance, the story ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa’ is a story about a woman on she had to compromise with her passion for singing after marriage. Sometimes, we get stories from the listeners as well.
What can we expect in your upcoming series?
Through Kahaani Express. I will share stories about emotional goodbyes, hopeful beginnings, meetings by chance and dreamers embarking on life altering journeys. These are the experiences we often encounter during train journeys. Saavn is helping me preserve this ancient tradition. You can listen to the stories anytime and any number of times through this app.
Do you think your stories have a higher purpose?
Storytelling has been a popular art form in India since time immemorial. In fact, it is proved to be one of the best ways to improve concentration. We have also got some extraordinary feedback in the last few sessions. Our stories help the listeners to muster courage and become happier. People have also repaired broken relationships and developed a strong will power.
What are the challenges you’ve faced while travelling across India?
I have had to face several adverse situations like flood, cyclones, and riots, to mention a few. But this couldn’t tame the spirit of travelling that burned within me. I have also visited several rural areas and interior parts of the country for work. Rural India has a pleasant aura attached to it — I love the ambience and therefore am considering partly moving back to my village, Kunaura near Lucknow.