Under the current unusual circumstances, we came across this unusual artist who made his presence felt not only by his impeccable voice but also by his meaningful poetry that has touched the hearts of people in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Azerbaijan.

The unusual part is that these poems are not published in the form of a book, but narrated by the poet himself on a social media platform. Today we find out more about this Instagram (@tusharsarojsen) poet/writer Tushar Sen who rechristened his media collection as – Radioactive Tushar.

A few pointers about him:

The process of writing he follows, how did he come up with the idea to write? Urdu is not his first language then how did he manage such proficiency in the language?

Tushar: The process of writing begins with a simple idea, the pursuit of that idea however isn’t simple, it takes a while just to figure out what to write. And the next step is even more convoluted; I have to be able to relate to the idea I choose to write about, sometimes it so happens that I choose an idea and I just can’t feel about it at that moment, so I have to drop that idea and try and pick up some other idea.

Art in any form is deeply connected to one’s state of mind, if you are melancholy it reflects in your work, if you are joyful it manifests accordingly and so on. I’m no different from the rest of the artists I suppose, trust me I try really hard not to be a slave of my state of mind but it just doesn’t happen, the mind palace won’t open its doors for any or every idea on my list at any given time.

The next step is to then research, read, make notes, form images, and writing those images. I call this the storyboard stage where I make a flowchart of how a poem would shape up from its opening, right up to the crescendo.

I might be sounding very methodical, but that’s how I approach my work, piece by piece I try to erect a Zynga, concurrently chipping away anything that makes it boring or preachy or begging for attention (if you know what I mean). Keeping it simple is the art of the master, I’m still trying to hone that skill.

As for my proficiency, I would say that I’m far from it because obviously I’m still learning. My work may seem error-free, but that’s simply because of the effort and detail that goes into each of my poems. Time and again I have emphasized on the importance of reading and assimilating, that’s the only way one can improve upon his skills as a writer.

The use of similes in my poems are skillfully well placed, some of my personal favourites “jiski jahan tak ticket hai wo wahin tak jayega”, “dariya hai tu, patthar khaa kar uncha tera ufaan rahe”, “khuda maangne walo ki sune ya unki sune jo haqdaar hain”, “tasveeron ka ik shaaistaa sa jaal bunkar intezaar shikaar ka hota hai” and “nazmo ne calendar wale kono mein dum todd dia tha”.

Poetry comes naturally they say, but then did he seek help from a teacher/mentor or there’s some secret he discovered.

Tushar: There’s no secret, just imagery, I’m more of a visual person, I imagine my poem as images that are projected on the empty space I keep staring at while I write my poems. What is essential in poetry is that it is to be served as a dessert and not a meal; a meal probably would be a novel or a story.

But poems are desserts, readers and listeners expect it to have some distinct flavour they can savour and come back for more. Like we keep going to our favourite paan walas or ice cream parlours for that particular flavour, the same way listeners/readers come back to poets for that flavour she/he serves through her/his similes. Now, how do I create these similes if that’s what you are asking me then the answer to that would be – I honestly don’t know.

There are others who have been writing and posting poems before him, but the trajectory that his work has witnessed in terms of acceptance and appreciation by the audience is by any standards inspirational. What makes him stand out, why do his listeners connect so well with him?

Tushar: Well, it’s natural three-layer consumer behaviour, in my case the consumers are my listeners. My biggest secret is already out in the open; my narration is limited to one minute only, and it serves well for my Instagram users who are short on patience.

The three layers I’m talking about are Poetry, Elocution and Voice. Let me explain, the first layer is a decent poem which is free of errors, the second layer is elocution which comes through practice. Yes, I practice a lot before I sit down to record. The third layer is the voice. In my case, Lord Shiva has been kind to me but with hard work and practice, one can still acquire the skills of voice modulation. How can one go on to acquire these three layers? The secret is HARD WORK. Period!

Are his poems being heard only on Instagram or he posts them on other platforms as well? What has been the response from other platforms?

Tushar: Initially my poems were heard only on Instagram, but then I activated my accounts on Pinterest, Tumblr, Reddit and Facebook. My follower base on these accounts is growing and many have converted to my regular listeners on Instagram. I have manually built an email base of over 40,000 poetry lovers and I mail them about my posts whenever I upload a new track on Instagram. The response from each of these platforms has been quite heartwarming and I thank my followers/listeners from the bottom of my heart.

Who is this person from the inside? What does this poet do when he is not working? What is it like to be Tushar? He must have received such questions in his inbox, now is the time to provide answers to all these questions.

Tushar: Yes, I do get a lot of questions about who I really am. It was difficult initially for me to understand why would anybody be interested in knowing me, doesn’t my work speak for me? But then gradually I understood the human need to know the person we admire, some look for motivation, some for that magic (in my case there’s no magic) and some just are curious. So I have started to open up with my listeners lately.

When Tushar is not working he is sleeping, I’m not exaggerating. I’m always working, I’m extremely restless as a person. I’m of the opinion that I start out my day with pocket money of 24 hours and I’m very particular about how I spend it.

I like reading, my favourite authors are Neel Mukherjee, Anuradha Roy and Rohinton Mistry. I spend time with my mother, she wants me to listen to all her stories and demands attention while she is narrating. I like spending ‘me time’ on the beach every day.

I love travelling, mostly solo. Whatever time my day job (investment portfolio management) allows me I like spending it honing my skills. I have very few friends who have managed to tolerate me over the years. And I love to write.

The journey has just begun, his listener base has just started to increase, but then to continue to do this for a long time he would need to amalgamate his spine with steel. Is he prepared for that?

Tushar: I know what you mean, I do go through these phases when I feel the “so what” syndrome. So what if listeners are loving my work, so what if I got 1 lakh views, so what if I got so many comments, so what if my follower base is moving up. Where is all this taking me? Is it worth all this hard work and sacrifice?

The more I think about all that the more it pulls me down because honestly, I don’t know where it will take me. This feeling comes and goes and in the process, I realize that all this doesn’t have to result in any path-breaking deal for me, I started out as a small-time poet and narrator.

So then why to even think about extracting anything out of it, why not enjoy what I’m doing, give to the world for once without expectations. So maybe this is my contribution to the society in my small way and in this process if I’m able to touch upon a few souls, heal a few hearts and motivate a few minds I would consider it as “mission accomplished.”