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The Echoes Of The Marathi Poet: Bal Sitaram Mardhekar

B. S. Mardhekar led an unruly life when it came to his dreams. However, with poetry and writing, he set his own path which would be remembered for years to come.

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BS Mardhekar, Marathi Poet

Bal Sitaram Mardhekar, or better known as B. S. Mardhekar was an exceptional Marathi writer whose innovations in the Marathi literary scene engraved his name as a prolific writer in literature forever. He founded a new style of poetry in Marathi which radicalized the very sensibilities of the Marathi poetry. Apart from poetry, Mardhekar also penned opera type short plays and novels which introduced the stream of consciousness in the Marathi linguistic space.

A thinker in literary aesthetics, B. S. Mardhekar introduced an avant-garde style poetry which sent waves of wonderment and interest in the Marathi literary world. On his 113th birth anniversary, here’s a closer look at his life and works.

Early Life

Bal Sitaram Mardhekar was born on December 1st, 1909 in Faizapur in Khandesh region of Maharashtra. His father was a primary school teacher but later retired as a deputy officer. His family came from a religious background, and the worshipping of Purushottam Ram was the family tradition. Mardhekar’s father, Sitarampant was very interested in philosophy and literature.

Mardhekar owes his primary education to his father’s friend, Shri Phadake. In highschool, Mardhekar grew up as an introvert and a bookworm. One would rarely see him out playing in the fields. He got his B.A. Degree from Bombay University in 1928. After failing to complete his M. A. education because of some practical difficulties, B. S. Mardhekar went to England for an I.C.S. qualification. However, yet again, this dream of his too shattered. After four years, he returned back to his home country. The four years in Europe gave Mardhekar first hand experiences of war, technology, culture, and the arts and aesthetics.

Bal Sitaram Mardhekar And His Steps Into Marathi Literature

Although Mardhekar wanted to be a professor, his lack of educational qualifications hindered at this occupational prospect. Eventually he got employed at All India Radio where he worked till his death. Mardhekar initiated a number of new programmes in All India Radio, which highlighted his own personal interests and likes. For instance, reading of poetry by the poets themselves, broadcasting of short plays and reading of famous novels.

Mardhekar’s intellect and a penchant for the creative imagination made him embrace it through writing and theorising literary criticism and literary aesthetics. He began his literary work with his anthology, Shishiragam published in 1939. Other of his major poetic works has been Kahi Kavita (1947) and Anakhi Kahi Kavita (1951). His poems had an echo of both the influences of the west and the native voice. Moreover, he also experimented with the stream of consciousness his poems.

In Shishiragam, the poet has penned an emotional journey of insignificant satisfactions and palpable agonies of a lover’s frustrations. Meanwhile, in Kahi Kavita, the personal dilemmas are questioned in a social paradigm. In it, he also introduced a corrupted urban ethos in his poems, which was a first in the Marathi Literature. On the other hand, Anakhi Kahi Kavita is more on the philosophical quest side. Here is one of the poet’s much read translated poems:

This Is The Order

This is the order
Of a dark world :
A wick of soot
In the heart of darkness.

A black ‘plane
Zooms into darkness
Through black air.

There are no signals
Not red, nor green;
One cannot get lost
In the invisible.

Wherever I go
I am my own partner :
My eyes have turned
Into such walls.

Apart from poems, Mardhekar also penned a play titled, Natashreshta (1944) and the novels Ratricha Divas (1942), Tambadi Mati (1943) and Pani (1948).

In 1956, Bal Sitaram Mardhekar was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award for his work ‘Saundarya ani Sahitya (A study of aesthetics)’, the same year he breathed his last breath. The poet died at the age of 47.

Credits: YouTube (Spruha Joshi)
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Editor's Pick

K. S. Narasimhaswamy: Mysore Jasmine of Kannada Literature

Poets help bring out the hidden beauty in the world. K. S. Narasimhaswamy’s works were just that and much more.

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K. S. Narasimhaswamy, Kannada poet, poet

The world of poetry is filled with mystery. Poems are the veil that when penned down brings to notice a world that hides in the crevices of the reality we live in. Poems bring out expressions and perspectives that help one make their voice heard. The diversity in poetry is what makes it so cathartic and bewitching. But sadly, poetry wasn’t always this diverse or cathartic. Followed by a string of rules and regulations the poetry world was very very strict. But then there are always a few such poets who usher in a new genre by just expressing themselves however they wanted to. One such poet was K. S. Narasimhaswamy.

The Journey

Born in Kikkeri in the Mandya district of Karnataka on 26 January 1915 K. S. Narasimhaswamy was a prominent Indian poet who wrote in the Kannada language. In 1934 he enrolled in Central College in Bengaluru and successfully obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree. His marriage to Venkamma in Tiptur in 1936 is what set in motion his life as a poet.

His wife was his muse. She was the art and he was the artist. And his love for her was clearly visible in the poems he wrote about love and marital bliss. At a time when many writers were still busy writing about nature and the natural world, Narasimhaswamy found his peace in love. His works were highly inspired by Robert Burns, giving his writing style and technique a unique touch.

Apart from being a poet at heart, he was also a translator. He translated a lot of work during his time. Some of the major ones are- Media (1996), Robert Burns Kaviya Kelavu Premageetegalu (1997), and Kelavu Chinee Kavanagalu (1997). It is true that the true essence of literature can only be appreciated once it becomes accessible, and by being a translator Narasimhaswamy aided in this particular sphere.

Such ones do not just come once and leave;
does the earth only momentarily turn heaven?
Her saying that he will come again is not untrue,
the rain, the grain, all life itself happens from them.

‘It Happened This Way’
K. S. Narasimhaswamy
Translated by Madhav Ajjampur

He was part of the Navodaya movement in Kannada literature. Navodaya movement, also known as the renaissance in Kannada literature was a period in which many writers took it upon themselves to not only express but also nurture modern Kannada literature by translating many pieces of literature from English to Kannada. From poems and short stories to essays and novels, it encompassed everything. This period showed the influence of Western modernity, literature and education on Kannada literature. 

Though he is an expert translator, his masterpiece is a collection of poems- Mysooru Mallige (1942). Owing to its huge popularity this collection has received more than thirty-two reprints. Apart from publishing a huge collection of poems and translating some works, he has also written many proses such as Maariya Kallu (1942), Upavana (1958), Damayanthi (1960), and Sirimallige (1990).

Afterword

Although his popular work made him stand out from the crowd he always remained rooted and was very down to earth. This quality is especially highlighted in his essay titled, Basavanagudiyalli (In Basavanagudi) when he decides to get down from a bus so that a couple can ride the bus together. He has received a lot of recognition and honour for his work. From Sahitya Akademi Award to the Asian prize for literature, he has bagged them all with his sheer talent and hopes to usher in a new era of Kannada literature.

Credits: YouTube (KARNATAKA INFORMATION)
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Editor's Pick

Throwback Thursday: Madhusudan Rao A Odia Language Pioneer

Odia literature has had its ups and downs. For the longest time it wasn’t even regarded as a language. But Rao decided to change that.

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Madhusudan Rao, TBT, Odia literature, Odia, Odia language

Many people love a language, but how many go so far as to ensure that it gets its due recognition? With the arrival of British Colonisation, many people decided to just give in and accept the English language as their fate. Many revolted by holding on to their language but how many actually helped it develop? How many actually ensured that it had such a solid foundation that it can never be shaken? When it came to the Odia language though Madhusudan Rao clearly did.

The Beginning

Born on 19th January 1853, Rao came from a family with a modest status. His father used to work for the Odisha (then Orissa) Police department, a job that came with a lot of transfers to different places. As a result of this Rao did his schooling at different schools in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Puri, etc. It was in Puri that he shined the brightest by winning award after award for his brilliant academic performance. 

After finishing his matriculation exam in 1869, he received his FA in 1871. As there wasn’t any scope in Odisha for pursuing B.A. so he wanted to pursue the same in Kolkata but his father was not ready to send him so far away. Hence, he started working as a teacher and ended up teaching at various schools during his entire lifetime.

Teaching and Literature

While working as a teacher he realised how hard it is for students to grasp new knowledge in a foreign language. He decided something needed to be done. The lack of teaching in one’s mother tongue was stunting the potential of a lot of children. 

During that time there were no textbooks available in Odia. Many didn’t even consider it a language. But that all changed when Rao with Shri Radhanath Rai wrote the first textbook in Odia for beginners. This helped bring about the change which made Odia the medium of instruction in many schools. 

He came up with “Barnabodha”, the prized possession of every young Odia. Published in 1895, this workbook for beginners is still prescribed by the education department and has sold millions of copies since its release. Because of his constant efforts to help students in their learning, he published many children’s magazines such as, “Sikhyabandhu”, “Asha”, “Utkal Sahitya”, “Utkal Darpan”, etc. 

Apart from being a teacher, he was also a great writer. He was a poet and an essayist, some of his best poems include, “Rishi Prane Devavataran”, “Basant Gatha”, “Kusumanjali”, and “Himachale Uday Utsav”. Given his deep faith in god, he is widely recognised as Bhakta Kabi (Translation: Bhakta- a religious devotee, Kabi- poet) in Odisha.

Social Work

Apart from trying to cement Odia as a language, Rao was also deeply involved in improving the status of the Odia community. He became a part of Brahmo Samaj at a time when it focused on social reforms. Rao vehemently opposed the ideas of untouchability and casteism. He broke the caste system by marrying the girls in his family to men hailing from different castes. By giving examples from the holy scriptures Rao debunked the origin of these practices.

He tried his level best to bring god closer to the common man by delivering whatever was written in the Vedas, Upanishads and Gita in simple language for the common man’s ears. He believed that God rested above, the soul is somewhere in the middle, and the material world is below the soul. True happiness blossoms only when the soul surrenders itself entirely to the divine.

Afterword

From establishing an institution called the “Alochana Sabha” in Cuttack in 1890 — which was later renamed to “Utkal Sahitya Samaj” — to ensuring that Odia literature had a strong unshakeable foundation with books like “Barnabodha”, “Sishubodha”, “Balabodha”, “Sahitya Kusum”, etc. Madhusudan Rao’s contribution to the development of the Odia language is commendable. 

Apart from providing the stepping stones for the Odia language to bloom, he also enriched its literature with his immortal masterpieces.

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Vistas of Bharat : Indian Culture

Thiruvalluvar Day: The Ancient Wisdom Of The Tamil Poet

Celebrating the ancient wisdom and knowledge of the Tamil poet and philosopher, Valluvar, on Thiruvalluvar Day.

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Thiruvalluvar Day, Thiruvalluvar, Thirukural, Sangam, Literature,

Thiruvalluvar, or just known as Valluvar, was a Tamil poet, philosopher and sage, a person who transformed a life from rags to riches. He lived during the Sangam age of the Tamil culture, or more specifically, the Sangam period. Even though born some two thousand years ago, his works, teachings and insights still hold grave value even today. Valluvar has talked extensively on subjective human topics and aspects like love, justice, life, good and evil, wisdom, etc. On Thiruvalluvar day, let’s have a look at the poet’s personal life and upbringing along with some of must read written words.

Valluvar: Personal Life And His Philosophy

The exact dates and particulars of Valluvar’s life remain unknown. According to historians, Valluvar was born in the 1st century CE in a village near modern-day Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, or also called the city of Madurai. The name ‘Thiruvalluvar’ translates to ‘the devotee of the Valluva caste’. He married at a young age to a woman named Vasuki, who was described as a “chaste and devoted lady, an ideal wife, who never disobeyed the orders of her husband, but always carried them out implicitly.” The couple had a daughter together.

As stated above, not much is known of Valluvar’s personal life, yet it is speculated that during his earlier years, he worked as a weaver, while other scholars speculate that he was most probably a government official in a district near Madurai. Later, he lived in recluse near Kanchipuram, where he penned his most prominent works ever, ‘Thirukkural‘.

Thiruvalluvar’s philosophy circled around living a divine life of sanctity. While major sages and philosophers suggested leaving the family behind and becoming a Sannyasin, Valluvar on the other hand, offered an alternative. He suggested and fostered the idea of attaining a balance between living a life of a householder and that of a sanctified divine and pure human being. He recorded these musings in his book, ‘Thirukkural‘.

Excerpts From Thirukkural And Other Writings Of Thiruvalluvar

In ‘Thirukkural‘, the poet preaches the goodness of honesty, humility and compassion. To lead a meaningful life, one must know the importance of self-discipline, education and economic independence. His central virtue, and according to him, the foundation of all lives, was love and compassion for others. He truly believed that our attitude and behaviour for others must always rest on kindness and goodwill. Such a tenets and virtues would promise a fulfilling life.

Some of the couples from ‘Thirukkural‘ are:

“The wound that’s made by fire will heal, But the wound that’s made by tongue will never heal.”

“Just as the alphabet ‘A’ is the beginning of all letters, so also, God is the beginning for this universe.”

“Learn the Shastras completely and then act according to their injunctions.”

“The Anicha flower will fade by smelling, but guests are more sensitive if the hosts turn their faces a bit.”

“There is no greater wealth than Virtue, and no greater loss than to forget it.”

“The lotus’ stem is as long as the depth of water, So men’s height is just as great as their inner strength.”

“Death is like sleeping in the burial ground; birth is like waking in the morning.”

Thirukkural‘ is still a prominent book in Tamil literature, read and taught in the state. It is considered as the universal Bible. For his wise words and universalistic and timeless knowledge, Thiruvalluvar is honoured everyday in Tamil Nadu on the 15th or 16th of January.

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Vistas of Bharat : Indian Culture

Preserving the Culture of India Through Folklores and Storytelling

Folklores and storytelling has formed the foundations of shared history, culture, and awareness amidst communities since ancient India.

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Folklore, Storytelling. UNESCO, Intangible Cultural Heritage

So many of us have had the privilege of good night stories narrated by our grandparents. These night time stories were often filled with interesting myths and morals, and were a treat to the ears, weren’t they? Folktales and storytelling have been with us since forever. They were a major part of our childhood while growing up. Have you ever thought about the origins of folklores and storytelling in the Indian culture and their significance? The most basic understanding of the ‘folk’ that we’ve is that they’re related to ‘traditional’ and ‘native’, and sometimes ‘rural’. However, folklores and storytelling have a more nuanced and diverse background to them, especially in the Indian context, considering that the country is rife with so many different traditions, lifestyles, and art.

Folklores And Storytelling: The Oral Traditions

Folklores and storytelling were oral traditions but thanks to literature, most of these folktales and stories are now recorded in written formats. Years and years of ancient myths, dramas, and rituals in the form of prose narratives have been preserved and carried forward from generations to generations. The posterity of India’s rich oral tradition could only be preserved because of all the scholars, saints and writers who wrote down these stories.

One of the widely read, known and loved tales we all must have read sometime in our childhood are the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, Jataka tales of Buddhism, Panchatantras and Hitopadesha. These moralistic tales are built around expressions of strong self-reflections, righteousness, socio-political realities and deep insights. While these are the most famous and well known collection of tales, India, in fact, has diverse origins of stories and folktales, from distinct communities and tribes.

Credits: YouTube (TED-Ed)

The Many Indian States And Their Many Legends

India is one of the most diverse countries in the world. Its regions have produced numerous stories revolving around a vast and broad array of themes, myths, rituals, and cultures. Most pertinent is the link between folktales and culture, which is very strong since stories from these culture form the very essence of their heritage and identities. Of course the tales from the north India have a different origin and cultural angles. Let’s take a look at some of folklores from different regions of India.

The folklores from Uttar Pradesh, for instance, were around the wisdom and wise words of maulvi sahbs. Meanwhile, Kerala folklores are a celebration of its origin, religion, festivities and temples. The legends of ‘Mahabali’ and ‘Parasurama’ are two of the most read stories from Kerala’s lands. The folktales of Andhra Pradesh are even more profound and interesting since they’re centred around family, and how the family create certain roles for the two genders: male and female. Most of these stories depict a heavy emphasis on women as the primary decision makers of the household. West Bengal, a state which has produced several artists, writers and painters, is of course a land filled with tales of faraway lands, of the kings and queens, demons, the evil and good, with most of these aimed at imparting a moral lesson.

When it comes to North East India, one must remember the geographical location of the seven states. These states are the home to pristine nature, tribal communities, biodiversity, and its socio-political girth. Naturally, North Eastern states have had a close relation with its surrounding nature, and a large number of these folktales are in fact a reflection of this interdependence of humans on its environment. These communities, through their legends and tales, communicate their wisdom on the conservation of nature, on livelihood, and culture.

Credits: YouTube (Folktales of India)

Preserving Cultures And Traditions Through Folklores

As mentioned earlier, folktales have been preserved over time through oral traditions. They were passed down from generations to generations through vocal narrating from the mouth. Understandably, ‘listening’ became one of the core activities of the folktales tradition. This imparting of stories, myths, legends, rituals, was an attempt at entertainment, of course, but more importantly strengthening the core values of their culture, history and heritage. The stories shared amidst a community resolved to create a shared sense of common history and traditions.

It’s not even the stories or the legends they narrate but the way they narrate these stories. For instance, ‘Kathakalakshepam’, which are stories with anecdotes, mostly in Sanskrit, Hindi and Tamil, are narrated along with music and dance. In Andhra Pradesh, folktales are narrated along with beating a drum. This drum is called a ‘Burra’, and, hence, the folk narratives in the state are referred to as ‘Burra Katha’. Meanwhile in Tamil Nadu, storytelling has always been accompanied with a bow-like stringed instrument. This holistic expression of art forms through music and dance is also what constitutes a major chunk of a community’s culture.

Folktales are the connecting thread between the palatial past and the boundless present. A lot of campaigns and efforts have been rolled out to preserve folklores through other mediums other than written records. UNESCO categorized ‘Folklores’ as Intangible Heritage Culture under category of oral history in 2003. Folklores have been adapted into numerous performing arts like folkdances, folk paintings and murals, to maintain this ancient oral tradition in a more nuanced way. Kalbelia folk songs and dances of Rajasthan, Mudiyettu, ritual theatre and dance drama of Kerala, or the Chhau dance, based on tales of Mahabharata and Ramayana, performed by tribal population of Jharkhand and West Bengal, are some of the IHC categories through which the myths and legends of the past have still been kept alive.

Credits: YouTube (sadhya dance)
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Exploring the Life, Teachings and Legacy of Swami Vivekananda

Today, on the National Youth Day we delve into the life and philosophy of Swami Vivekananda that continues to inspire us till today

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Swami Vivekananda, National Youth Day

Swami Vivekananda, born as Narendra Nath Datta, was a spiritual leader and philosopher who played a key role in the introduction of Indian spirituality to the Western world. He was born on January 12, 1863, and his birth anniversary is celebrated every year in India as National Youth Day. He was a devout follower of Sri Ramakrishna, who had a profound influence on his spiritual and intellectual development. He was a brilliant student and had a deep interest in religion, philosophy and literature. He was also an accomplished athlete and had a deep love for music.

The Historic Moment!

Swami Vivekananda’s greatest contribution was his role in spreading the teachings of Vedanta, the ancient Indian philosophy of oneness, to the Western world. He represented India at the 1893 World Parliament of Religions in Chicago, where he delivered a historic speech that won him widespread acclaim. His speech, which began with the words “Sisters and brothers of America,” was a powerful call for religious tolerance and understanding.

“The greatest sin is to think yourself weak.”

Swami Vivekananda

His Teachings!

His teachings were centered around the idea of self-realization and the unity of all religions. He believed that all religions were different paths to the same goal and that the ultimate goal of human life was to realize one’s true nature, which is divine. He emphasized the importance of self-discipline, self-control, and self-reliance as the key to spiritual development.

As a strong advocate of education and social reform, he believed that education was the key to social and economic development and that it was essential for the upliftment of the poor and the downtrodden. He also believed that social reform was essential for the spiritual development of individuals and society.

“Stand up, be bold, be strong. Take the whole responsibility on your own shoulders, and know that you are the creator of your own destiny.”

Swami Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda’s teachings have had a profound impact on many people, both in India and around the world. His message of tolerance, understanding, and self-realization continues to inspire people of all ages and backgrounds. Many institutions, including the Ramakrishna Mission, the Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Vivekananda University, have been established to propagate his teachings.

His teachings, based on the idea of self-realization and the unity of all religions, continue to inspire people of all ages and backgrounds. His birthday is celebrated every year as National Youth Day in India, to commemorate his contributions and to inspire the youth of the country to follow in his footsteps. He is a role model for many people, and it is a reminder of how one person can make a significant impact on the world.

“Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.”

Swami Vivekananda

“The greatest religion is to be true to your own nature. Have faith in yourselves.”

Swami Vivekananda

“You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul.”

Swami Vivekananda
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Bamboo Boys, Short Film
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Carnatic Music
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Music, Semi Classical Music, Hindustani Music, Indian Classical Music, Classical Music
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Music
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Set Of Bollywood Classic Musical Covers, Definitely Worth Lend An Ear

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Rabindra Sangeet
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Some Music Originals Bringing You A Taste Of Life

Ankit Kawatra
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The Untold
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Raat Baaki Baat Baaki, Jackie Shroff, Divyansh Pandit, Wild Buffaloes Entertainment, Filmfare
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Ami Mishra, Mohammed Rafi, Ehsaan Tera, Unplugged Cover, Anchal Singh
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Plus Minus, Baba Harbajan Singh, Bhuvan Bam, Divya Dutta, Sikhya Entertainment
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Mashaal, The Forgotten Soldiers,The Jokers' Project, Manisha Swarnkar, Independence Day
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Bhuvan Bam, Safar, Single, Original, Bhuvan Bam Safar, Artist, BB Ki Vines
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Navaldeep Singh, The Red Typewriter, Short Film, Love Story, Touching Story
Short Films5 years ago

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Dilbaro, Saloni Rai, Cover, Raazi, Alia Bhatt
Music5 years ago

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Meri Maa, Musical, Short Film, Tarannum Mallik, Abhinay, Mother's Day
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Meri Maa ki Beti, Niharika Mishra, Poetry, Maa
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Call Center Ke Call Boy Ki Kahani, Rakesh Tiwari, Tafreeh Peshkash, Poetry
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Kajender Srivastava, Jawaab, Poetry, Poem
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Tribute to Avicii, Indian Dancers, Avicii, Amit K Samania, Prakrati Kushwaha
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Varun Agarwal, Million Dollar Company, Anu Aunty
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Manpreet Toor's Laung Laachi
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Semal
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Mashup of ‘Treat You Better’ & ‘Mann Bharrya’ in Melodious Voice of Semal and Bharti

Aksh Baghla
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Dil Diyan Gallan in Euphonious Voice of Akash Baghla

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Sang Hoon Tere
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Aranya Johar
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Tere Mere by Saloni Rai
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Every Skin Glows : Sejal Kumar
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Knox Artiste
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