Despite it being a Monday evening, or perhaps because of it, hundreds of people landed up to get relief after a hard day at work, by attending the Hasya Kavi Sammelan hosted by Jhilmil, a young arts organization formed in Princeton, New Jersey this April by IT professionals wanting to promote Indian performing arts in the Tristate area.
The big draw to the Oct. 2 event held in E-Hotel, Edison, N.J., was Padma Shri poet Surendra Sharma, famous for his five decades of performing on stage making keen observations tinged with humor and a deadpan delivery. This time, Sharma mixed some serious messages with his jokes, which appealed to the audience, organizers told Desi Talk. The other two performers were Sampat Saral of Jaipur who in his notable style, delivered satire in prose form, in the tradition of greats like Sharad Joshi and K.P. Saxena; and Sita Sagar, who sang her ‘muktaks’ – four-line poems, that spoke of love and patriotism, and got a standing ovation.
“About 550 people came on a Monday evening!,” Anoop Bhargava, co-founder of Jhilmil, said. “That was beyond our wildest imagination.” Apart from Sharma being a big draw, Bhargava credited the more-than-packed hall to hard work and the support of organizations and individuals, and especially the Jhilmil team, which also included Shailesh Trivedi.
Apart from Sharma the two other Padma Shri recipients attending the event included Desi Talk publisher Dr. Sudhir Parikh, and TV Asia Chairman and CEO H.R. Shah. They were presented with plaques recognizing their effort to promote art and culture in New York and New Jersey.
At the request of Sharma, the three poets/performers were presented with engraved pens, Bhargava said.
Ameeya Mehta, co-founder of Jhilmil, and Bhargava, told Desi Talk the organization was formed with the tagline “Art Matters” to institutionalize their years of involvement in the field of poetry (Bhargava) and theater (Mehta). “We want to cover all the arts of Indian performing art (through Jhilmil).” Bhargava said. Before Jhilmil was formed, they had to start from scratch for every event they organized. But now they hope to offer three to four high quality performing arts events a year to audiences with an annual subscription. This was the second successful performance Jhilmil offered, the first being that of Padma Shri Ashok Chakradhar in April. His experiment with combining poetry with Bharatnatyam also saw a packed hall, but one that was bested in terms of audience numbers on Oct. 2.
Organizers said they wish to work with all other organizations promoting art and culture in the region and the country.