Somehow, one of the first things I want to tell actor-poet-lyricist-singer Piyush Mishra as we sit down for a relaxed evening chat is that verses written by him carry enough punch, loads of meaning and plenty of weight. And all of it often in just two lines. The moment I tell him that, he looks at me and casts a friendly, carefree hand in the air suggesting it is an effortless practice. His inspiration is no thing or person beyond but his own thoughts and feelings. And he is good at penning these down.
Mishra often receives requests to recite poems he writes, verses that are a story in themselves. There are quite a few from among his vast repertoire that has created a buzz on social media as status messages, some of which include:
Aaj maine fir jazbaat bheje, aaj tumne fir alfaaz hi samjhe.
Woh kaam bhala kaam hi kya jisme saala dil ro jaaye, aur woh ishq bhala kya ishq hua jo aasani se ho jaaye.
Kaise karen hum khud ko, tere pyaar ke kaabil, jab hum aadatein badalte hain, tum sharte badal dete ho.
Insaan khud ki nazar mein sahi hona chahiye, duniya to bhagwan se bhi dukhi hain.
A graduate from National School of Drama in 1986, Mishra moved to Mumbai only in 2003. He was in Delhi for close to two decades. While plays and films have been a central force in his life, poetry carries that defining edge. After all, those few lines envelope plenty of meaning and emotions within. “You know, I haven’t been reading since a couple of years. I don’t think I am talented; I think I am gifted that God gave me the ability to express emotions and thoughts in an organized manner. I guess there is a purpose to our lives; sometimes we don’t know what happens owing to what…but everything is linked,” he offers food for thought, carrying in the same breath, “Nature makes us do so much… all we need to focus on is our work and forget the rest. Life is pretty straight but it is we who end up complicating it.” Mishra enjoys solitude and believes the “many exclamations” in his life have made him the person he is. He has a wife and two sons and they are his comfort, “but they are more attached to their mom”, he says matter-of-factly, “and then, my sons are interested in football, chess, cooking!”
While the actor values relationships and friendships and believes each has its set place in life, he firmly feels friendship is possible in every field except in films. “You can have friendship blossoming everywhere but it isn’t quite possible in our industry. It is impossible to foster friendship where someone or the other is sitting to slice you off. The jealousy is too much!,” says Mishra with unapologetic honesty. “Honesty mein hi to lutf hai, sahi mein… If you can speak up, you must, and if you feel someone will feel bad if you put forth an honest opinion, then refrain. Though ideally, I’d say speak up!”
Known to speak his mind on issues regarding political systems and parties, Mishra maintains all he is interested in is things going the right way. “Mentally I am a Leftist but I don’t intend to join parties that are Left. I am more for right governance. People may feel that I favour BJP though it’s not quite so. All I want is good governance and I will go where I get it. I am sincerely looking for good options… like, Pranab Mukherjee was good, but they made him President!” he says, point blank.
There are several reasons it can be interesting speaking with Mishra. He can sing and act, he can write and recite. Known for his compositions in Gangs of Wasseypur and Black Friday or his song Yaara Maula from Gulaal, the lyricist in him believes words carry weight and must, therefore, be reflective of the times we live in. He has also put together his poems in the recently released book, Kuch Ishq Kiya Kuch Kaam Kiya and recites a couple of them for a pleasant break. Mishra enjoys his own world. One that allows him to think, feel and be. He has opinions and he has seen life. And together, it makes him what he is. “Indeed, situations decide what we become. They lead us up to being the people we are. You know, often in my life the heart has said I mustn’t care but the mind has reminded me of responsibility. The battling comfort zone is another big thing. I made music and enjoyed it but when I did theatre, I realized it was the right thing for me. We can either follow our passion blindly or evaluate what is good for us, when and why. Life is such a teacher,” he says, taking a walk back in time.
Having battled alcoholism for a good number of years, Mishra is also adept at the art of giving up something once you have hit rock bottom. “There’s a point beyond which there is nothing. You just must stop or you will go.”
“Getting a neat and clean childhood is also very important,” he stresses, offering an example from his own life, “I have seen bad parenting in my case (he was adopted by his father’s sister) and seen my wife’s parenting (towards our sons) and I realize and understand how it is one of the most important factors of life. We become what we do based on our early life experiences.” The heart of a poet within also triggers him to think whether or not thinking deep in life is rational, relevant or necessary. “First when I hadn’t done much in life, I’d think ki kya karna hai…aur ab sab kar liya hai to lagta hai kya karna hai… When the mind is at severe unrest, it is time for a change. To be a genius you need to be disorderly…look at Marlon Brando, Leonardo da Vinci… the outlet to creation is often stemmed in desiring to do something that wasn’t tried before,” he says.
And, it is in trying new things that a person truly grows.
Cover Graphic : Romanch Soni
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