Sampooran Singh Kalra, known by his pen name Gulzar is an Oscar-winning director, poet, and lyricist. Also, being awarded Padma Bhushan, Sahitya Akademi Award, and the Dadasaheb Phalke Award – the highest award in Indian cinema, and many many more. Lately, I was looking for some inspiration to write. And what better than reading some of the poems written by our all-time favorite poet Gulzar. After some searching, I decided to pick up “Selected Poems” by Gulzar translation done by Pavan K. Varma. And oh! What a treat it was.
Selected Poems by Gulzar (Review)
“Selected Poems” is a collection of 40+ poems written by the author. After each poem gracefully follows the English translation done by Pavan K. Varma.
The book consists of some of the author’s best works. Themes like – Birth, death, grief, unrequited love, separation, heartache, relationship, etc. are captured exquisitely. Gulzar, through his poem, is very vocal about the torment faced by mother earth and the callous nature of humans.
“आओ सारे पहन लें आइने
सारे देखेंगे आपना ही चेहरा
सबको सारे हसीं लगेंगे यहां।”
He tells us how we humans are nothing but greedy animals. Through poems like “Bosky,” “Girhe,” “Budiya re,” “Friend,” etc. we grasp that Gulzar also loves to dwell and write on fragile bonds and relationships. We all are aware of his obsession with love and its various forms, more precisely the unrequited kind. “Love” is a popular topic when it comes to poetry, but not every poet can stir up the sentiments deposited in the reader’s heart."Gulzar's work needs audience way beyond the Hindi-speaking mass." Do you agree?
When Gulzar writes about Love – there is a subtlety to it, seems to effortlessly evoke emotions of empathy and divinely connect with the reader’s experience. “Triveni” is another beautiful fragment of his thoughts. It is a set of poems – each is a three liner.
In one of the introductory chapters Gulzar Ji says that “When I read Pavan’s translations, I was afraid of a reversal of roles—it seemed entirely possible that the reader would mistake them to be the original, and the Hindi as the translation!” had I not known Gulzar and his style of writing, I would have thought the same. There is actually a very fine line between these two works. Remove the cover, remove the attributions, and you’ll not know where Gulzar’s work ends, and Pavan’s translation begins, it takes me back to the time when I first saw Triveni Sangam.
It requires a great set of skills to write so simply about complex things. Gulzar’s poems are easy to read and understand as the language used is remarkably modest. His ability to connect with his audience through mundane activities/activity is phenomenal. And I am incredibly grateful to Pavan for the translation; as rightly said by him, “Gulzar’s work needs audience way beyond the Hindi-speaking mass.” I think I enjoyed his rendition more than the actual poems (I am not even sorry), it was so aptly and beautifully done.
I am definitely going to try and read more of Pavan K. Varma’s work. I have some high expectations, looking forward not to be disappointed.