Nidhi Narwal: The heart wants what it wants

India’s eminent spoken word artiste, Nidhi Narwal, is set to grace Hyderabad with her wealth of stories
Nidhi in focus
Nidhi in focus

Nidhi Narwal keeps mementoes from happy times. A slight smile, an unhurried walk, leafing through old journals — perhaps, she sees similarities between the past and the present. “You look just like him. This is the same colour as the first family car,” says the memory of her days as a Fauji kid. She closes her eyes to more clearly recall it. A performance poet and India’s most followed spoken word artiste, Nidhi is gearing up to present Just Baat Nahi, Jazbaat. An amalgamation of poetry and storytelling, she will not be framing her performance as solely her personal story. Instead, she will open up the possibility for her words to resound on a more universal deck. By choosing not to preface her performance with, “These are the things that happened to me and I will be telling you my story,” she assures that her crowd will be seated in a shared space of discovery that is as inseparable as protean.

“This approach also signifies creative freedom. It allows me to combine reality, imagination, personal experience and universal truths, without being confined by the expectations set by a traditional foreword,” she tells us. Expect the distinctive ambience of theatre — a world where every movement and silence fills the space with anticipation and emotion. Nidhi will thread anecdotes from her childhood, reflecting on her father’s 33-year dedication to the Army, the challenges of maintaining friendships amidst constant moves, and the poignant connections lost over time — those she believes could have enriched her, had they endured. It’s this sense of fleeting affinities and the pursuit of permanence that initially propelled her into poetry, storytelling and journaling.

Poetry is her unexpected hermitage, a stark contrast to the practicality instilled in her upbringing, where being jazbaati (emotional) was often viewed with scepticism. Yet, amidst the rigidity of pragmatism, her heart yearned for a release, an outlet. It was probably written that her vigour to express, to feel, to connect would lead her towards the transformative might of poetry, where eyes prickle with tears or an excitement flutters in the belly — her subdued nostalgia, her enthusiastic waves — all emotions to be unadulterated.

Nidhi holds that as one moves poetry from simple Arial-font pages to the podium, performance poetry makes literature accessible to a broader audience. People who might not engage with traditional forms of poetry can find themselves intrigued by a live performance, where the energy and immediacy of the spoken word can break down barriers of intimidation or preconceived notions about poetry. “But then, some poems are written to be performed, some are written to be read. Both approaches underscore the versatility of poetry as a form of expression, each with its strengths and avenues for relationship. Whether aloud or in silence, poetry’s fuel to move, question, and inspire remains undiminished, reflecting the myriad ways we experience and interpret the world around us,” she shares.

Tickets start at `399. March 30, 6 pm onwards. At Bhaskara Auditorium, Saifabad. @PaulChokita

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