By Ananya Mukherjee
Poetry is about finding life in the silence of sleepy summer afternoons in Delhi of the past, in murky flashes of lights in dingy pubs reeking of garlic, spices and tobacco, in the simple weaving of a humble weaver, in the gurgles of the bi-cycle tyres as they meander their ways through flooded Mumbai by-lanes....and if it is Gulzar, chances are you will find life in the imagery and visualise yourself as the protagonist sharing a parallel existence, living each moment of the metaphorical literary utopia while his deep throated voice resonates in your ears!
Rich in literary speech yet simplistic to the point of innocence, Gulzar’s musings are a treat to those craving for an intellectual stimulation as well as the ordinary man who yearns to express himself and capture the memories of human realisations in phrases and couplets.
In a 90-minutes poetry session at Singapore’s esteemed Esplanade Concert Hall, the poet and lyricist teams up with Pavan Varma, another literary genius and the Indian Ambassador to Bhutan, and encapsulates the essence of romance...towards life. “Shayeri is about life,” the poet begins his session with the magical statement.
Needless to rationalise, his inspiration from the simple everyday business of life is well reflected in his writings. His metaphors leave the audience enthralled. From that night in the mountains where two waterfalls converse like two long lost rustic friends having suddenly met to finding the elixir of life in the birth of his grandchild, to the thoughts that burnt and continued to live amidst the ashes, his literary acumen emotes perfectly in harmony with the sensitive articulation of a poet, a lover, a father and a friend.
Pavan Varma does a fair job in translating some of Gulzar’s works in English for a wider audience, yet, somewhere between the lines, the beauty of the language is lost. His own sonnets from a collection called Yudhishthir and Draupadi are, however par excellence and take his insightful interpretation of an episode in Mahabharata to a new level. Gulzar’s transliteration of the collection recreates the charm in a new flavour retaining the essence of the original yet adding a personal tint to the analysis.
At the end of the evening, as I have traversed miles in a parallel space with the duo, exploring various facets of human nature, relationships, articulating the innate unsaid feelings, contemporary and in reflection, am left with a mixed sense of contentment and a craving for more....and yes, his last poem “Meghna” does leave me with very moist eyes.