Virtual Bharat


An immersive, 1,000-film journey to celebrate a 5,000-year-old civilisation. A digital museum of unseen, untold stories — of art, culture, architecture, incredible places, inspiring people and soul-stirring social change — all told in under 10 minutes.

Dr. Haldhar Nag is a Sambalpuri poet and writer from Bargarh, Odisha. Popularly known as “Lok Kabi Ratna”, he was awarded a Padma Shri, the fourth-highest civilian award in the country, by the Government of India, in 2016. He was born in a poor family in the village of Ghens.

Jayaraman’s day starts at 1am. He spins his own yarn on the charkha — like Gandhi, his idol — till 3am, before heading out for his daily run between 3.30am and 7.30am. He runs barefoot and bare bodied for 32 kilometers on the streets of Chennai, four hours a day, five days a week. And he has been doing so for 15 years!

Dr. Haldhar Nag was awarded a Padma Shri, the fourth-highest civilian award in the country, by the Government of India, in 2016.

Gulzar wrote a letter to Haldhar Nag as a gesture of appreciation and admiration for the Odia poet’s work and achievements. In a Virtual Bharat film featuring Haldhar Nag as the protagonist, Gulzar expressed his deep respect for the poet’s unique style of writing and his ability to connect with people from all walks of life through his words.

Haldhar Nag, an Adivasi poet from Sambalpur, writes in the Kosali language, and according to Gulzar, his work reflects the spirit and essence of the earth itself. Gulzar also notes that when Haldhar Nag speaks, it feels as though he is addressing every individual on the globe, such is the power of his words. Through his letter, Gulzar acknowledges the struggles that Haldhar Nag had to endure in his journey to fame and success, rising from poverty to become a renowned poet through his mastery of the pen. By reaching out to Haldhar Nag, Gulzar also highlights the importance of recognizing and celebrating the diversity of languages and cultures in India, and the richness that comes from the preservation and promotion of these unique identities.

Overall, Gulzar’s letter to Haldhar Nag is a tribute to the power of words, the importance of language, and the enduring legacy of poets like Haldhar Nag, who use their craft to connect with people and preserve the cultural heritage of their communities.

Seventeen years ago, long-distance runner Vishwanathan Jayaraman swapped one love for another. He quit smoking and began running. “A transfer of addiction from nicotine to endorphins,” says the 55-year-old, a senior official of the Indian Railways. He was 22 when he picked up his first cigarette. “It was late by normal standards. A classmate at IIT Kanpur dared me to smoke,” he says. So he did, and was soon hooked. “Smoking became my first love; by the end of 16 years, I was virtually a chain smoker,” he says.

Jayaraman tried quitting half-a-dozen times but never succeeded. This time, however, was different… “I stumbled upon running. Someone told me I needed to do something physical to get over the withdrawal symptoms and sleep better at night.”

His new love Jayaraman was then posted in Delhi, and was a little conscious about running in public, so he invested in a treadmill. “It helped me get over the shyness, as I could do it in the privacy of my home,” he says. He could barely run when he started — “not even 100 meters” — but he persevered, slowly increasing distance and participating in races, beginning with the Hutch Half Marathon in 2005 or 2006 (he doesn’t remember the exact year). And though he no longer joins the races — it ruins his running schedule, he says — he makes it a point to run for leisure almost every day.