Arunoday Singh busy at his soul scribbles. Pic/SameerâÂÂÂÂMarkande
When you think Arunoday Singh, the first thing that conjures in this writer’s mind is tall, handsome and excessively charming. You could blame cinema for this inadequate comprehension of the actor, or, may be, our permanent hangover of his role as the classy and suave Dhruv Singh from Aisha (2010). Either way, we can’t deny that there’s only this much that celluloid shows us. So, when we stumbled upon the actor’s poetry on his Instagram feed, where he goes by the handle @sufisoul, there is a brief moment of disbelief.
“Sometimes you take my breath away,” he writes in one post in bold, decorative script, “…Sometimes you even forget I need it back.” Hooked, we slide further, where amid the pile of verse and poetry, we find the actor’s motivation. “I so often say the wrong things. I became a poet, to say the right ones, in the right way, at least some of the time,” he writes.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that a major chunk of Singh’s followers on Instagram, which stands at nearly 43,000, are here not to voyeuristically follow his pursuit to stardom or his selfie-moments, but to read his poetry. With posts flooded with hashtags #poetsofinstagram and #sufisoulpoetry, Singh also, appears to be rather partial to the art, only intermittently posting photographs of his Canadian wife Lee Elton, his travels and two dogs. “I have been writing since puberty,” Singh says, during a telephonic interview. “It actually stemmed from my fascination for rock ‘n’ roll music as a teen. I had just begun noticing girls and was also listening to songs about girls, so, it just seemed like the cool thing to do,” the actor recalls. “But, the people I admired the most, were always the people who wrote well. So, though it started of as a whim, for reasons, I just kept at it. Eventually, writing became a necessity.”
The more he saw of the world, the better his writing got, he says. “Experience just kept feeding fire.”
“It, however, came with a lot of practise. I started out writing the most dreadful poetry, ever written down on paper. Those books have been burnt, the ashes buried and a large golem erected to protect the site,” he jokes.
A page from Singh’s notebook of his verses. Pic/Sameer Markande
A few years ago, the actor decided to reach out to other poetry enthusiasts with his work. “I began on Instagram with 10 followers posting my hand-written verses. I soon figured that it was a great space to share poetry. When somebody reads and likes what you write, it means for that second this person felt what I felt, and in that moment, we were both together,” he says.
Today, writing has become a habit — one that’s almost addictive. “I write all day. But, because of work, home chores, and now, marriage, the deep quiet of the night has become my favourite time to write. It’s become a meditation. It’s a way for me to order my thoughts, simplify complex feelings and understand myself better. It’s my prayer and religion. It makes me feel I am not alone,” he says.
Singh, who is deeply inspired by the works of Leonard Cohen, Jalaluddin Rumi and Kabir, likes to call himself a sufi — this also explains the name of his Instagram handle. “I find the essence of Sufism, which is the love for humanity, very alluring and correct. No other religion speaks to me like Sufism does. Every other religion reminds you that you are imperfect and that you have to strive to do better. But, Sufism makes you feel that imperfect was what you were supposed to be and that you are doing just fine.”
While acting keeps him busy, Singh also harbours a small dream. “I would love to publish my poetry… only for the feeling that I did it, and, that there is a book in the vast library of the world and it was written by me.”