Nisar Shaikh is a kitchen operation head at a multi-cuisine restaurant in Mumbai. He though has another identity. An identity that makes him feel free, gives him a medium to express himself effectively and also gives him the power to change many perceptions in society. That identity is of being a 'spoken word artist'. He is also the founder of Awaken Words, a platform that supports budding artists.
Nisar's stage journey started when he became part of theatre performances at school. He has been performing on stage since 2018. In his journey as an open mic artist, he has been on some of the prominent open mic platforms such as The Habitat and Your Voice.
“tumhari yadon ki goonj kuch is tarah unchi hai, jiske aage meri awaz dum tod deti hai. tabhi toh meri zuban see zyada meri qalam bolti hai." The writer of these lines has always believed in working hard and never giving up. When in 7th grade Nisar joined tuition for the first time, he came across something interesting. “In between lectures, we always used to have some small Shayari sessions with my tutor. During those days, listening to Shayari and poetry was to lighten the environment. Gradually my interest grew in the poetic world and one fine day I came across some of the prominent names like Dr. Allama Iqbal and Ghalib through my teacher'' he says.
“Since then, the magical world of expression has caught my heart. I tried reading Kulliyat-e-Iqbal by Dr Allama Iqbal, which was also my first book. To be honest I didn't understand it the first time. Even now when I read it I always find something unique and new from it.”
It was back when Nisar was in his 9th standard that he got his first mobile phone. The trend of scrolling Facebook was high then. Suddenly one day he came across a post with two liners saying “Roz taro ki numaish mein khalal padta hai, chand Pagal hai andhero mai nikal padta hai” by Rahat Indori. I was in love with these lines and started sharing them on social media. After some time I came to know, these lines were written by the legend Indori.”
Nisar kept reading, exploring and listening to Jaun Elia, Ahmed Faraz, Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Khumar Barabankvi till his junior college. Nisar started his writing journey with khyaal, two liners and quotes. In the initial days he wrote “Kisi parinde si hai ab zindagi meri, ki aashiyane ki talash me kayi thokare mili. Mein kaid me hu mohabbat ke pinjre me wahi, jaha se tu gayi aur manzil adhuri reh gayi. Bhatak raha hu anjaan badalon me mein, bata ab raasta badlu ya udna chhod du mein.”
When it comes to being an open word artist he was inspired by the perfect performers like Rakesh Tiwari and Amandeep Khyal. He learned from observation and found his way to open mic platforms. In 2018, he performed on The Habitat for the first time and received a lot of appreciation. Even though he gave some good performances he was struggling with financial difficulties.
Nisar says, “I went through financial issues and some days I did not have money to register to perform on stage. A few times even though I reached the venue on time but having no money stopped me from being on stage. That is when I realised, lack of money can kill many talented artists and art within them.” Bad days build better days is the theory in which Nisar always has firm beliefs inherited by his father. “After such instances, I decided to come up with an idea of a platform for all the people serving equality.”
"I started Awaken Words, open mic in 2019 to support new budding artists and encourage them to flourish their art and let people know what the real rooted literature is." We have organised more than 40 events till now in different cities such as Delhi, Pune, Mumbai and Odisha. Every time we provide 5 different slots to all the artists who can not afford it but hide their identity.”
While sharing about his inspiration Nisar Shared “All my inspiration comes from my father. I still remember when I was in 6th class my dad sent us some money on Eid from Saudi. To celebrate and buy new clothes, but we found out he never brought anything new for himself because we were never there to celebrate with him and there was a lack of money. Since then I have decided to work hard and provide my family with everything they wish for.”
While sharing about his wish he said “I wish one day, I would have enough money, so that my parent’s closet would be full of clothes and they would get confused about what to wear.”
Life is a rollercoaster. You can either scream, every time you hit a bump or you can throw your hands up in the air and enjoy. And Nisar always enjoyed and learned his life whenever he faced difficulties.