The online bilingual literary magazine Pratilipi, has quietly built an exceptional reputation for its quality, the regularity of its bimonthly appearance, and the fact that it is genuinely bilingual, carrying excellent translations of all articles, in English and Hindi.
Readers of this blog may enjoy reading a series of essays on the Indian documentary, commissioned by Guest Editor Sridala Swami, with reflective pieces by filmmakers Paromita Vohra, Surabhi Sharma, and Kavita Joshi. In the December 2008 issue I have written an account of the making of Jashn-e-Azadi. Enjoy!
Published September 21, 2007
poetry , reflections , review
Haven’t posted for a while. Sometimes the off line world has more to ask than the online. This blog is 30,000 views old. For a seven month old blog, I don’t think that is a bad number (to confess to blogmistri’s initial under confidence when he registered the blog, he was willing to bet on 10-15 thousand views by now, and he lost the bet to Sanjay on it). But more than the numbers, the range and quality of conversations is what i feel proud about. In lieu of the long silence, I am posting a poem by Manglesh Dabral, who is probably amongst the best known contemporary poets writing in the Hindi language, and he won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2000 for his collection Hum Jo Dekhte Hain.
Place to Weep
(Dedicated to Rahul Dholakia’s film Parzania & Sanjay Kak’s documentary Jashn-e-Azadi)
Some time ago, places to weep were limited
Showing your tears just anywhere meant demeaning them
Some cried alone at home or in their backyard
Under a tree or on a lonely footpath
A surprise meeting with somebody, would wet our eyes for a moment
Sometimes an ancestor would appear in our dreams wiping his eyes
At the time of mourning, genteel people would hide their eyes behind dark glasses
When something like a lament would churn our insides
It was unnecessary to interpret the meaning of its romance
These days weeping surfaces from just about anywhere
You notice tears in just about every place
Glittering markets banish their darkness to their backyards
While crossing them, it seems that a river flows
Living together as a family
Beggars, lunatics, orphans, helpless animals, homeless dogs multiply
Mother and father keep searching
For their children slaughtered by the rioters
Weeping for them is like a long road
At the end of the day month year few scenes from a film
Best Bakery Gulbarga Naroda Patiya
In Yavatmal a farmer is seen for the last time
Cupping some earth from his field
In Kupwara dilapidated men and women
Are taken to identify their sons
On a narrow track made by army guns
One innocent dead appears in place of another innocent dead
Who is known by the name of a third innocent dead
Injustice continues to feed on the body of this nation, Raghuvir Sahai used to say
Lorca’s guitar like heart – still pierced with five stars
Impossible to silence it
In this happy well fed world
Kabir’s waking and weeping continues
Ghalib’s saaz is full of pain, tears flow out just as it is strummed
There is a place to weep inside poetry
She invites in people wet with tears
Through ever open doors of
Her house, backyard, under a tree, some footpath
Published June 28, 2007
form , poetry , politics , reflections , review
We’ve just got together a translation of a very significant review of the film in the Hindi laghu patrika (little magazine) Samyantar (May 2007). Swarg mein Aag aur Aansoo, translated as In Paradise: Fire and Tears is written by Manglesh Dabral, who is probably amongst the best known contemporary poets writing in the Hindi language, and he won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2000 for his collection Hum Jo Dekhte Hain. Samyantar, edited by the doughty Pankaj Bisht, has a small circulation (around 5,000 we believe), but it’s influence in the Hindi reading public (especially in north India) is way beyond that.
After you’ve read the review, you may want to read some of the poetry of the ‘everyday’ that Manglesh Dabral is so admired for, or explore the very important world of the laghu patrika in a very good piece called Her Editor’s Voice – Hindi Periodicals by Mahmood Farooqui.
“D for Documentary” is a relatively recent effort to regularly screen documentaries in Nashik city, initiated by our old and indefatigable friends, Abhivyakti Media for Development. Taking advantage of the Pune screening the previous day, a break-neck bus ride (accompanied by the relentless idiocy of the soundtrack of the Hindi film Bhagam-Bhag on the mandatory video screen) led Jashn-e-Azadi to a preview hosted by Abhivyakti on June 13th, 2007, at the very compact and well-made Municipal Hall named after the great musician Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar in central Nashik. Advance notice of the screening had been carried in some of the local Marathi papers, and a film about the idea of Azadi in Kashmir, should surely have attracted some critical attention in a city with a strong Shiv Sena presence…
One gratifying general observation: most people who are not regular documentary viewers, and who turn up for a screening of Jashn-e-Azadi, are taken aback by the idea of a documentary that runs to 2 hours and 19 minutes. But like has been the case elsewhere in our previews, the Nashik audience too stayed, and to the end, and many stayed for the Q&A as well. At least two people in the audience who identified themselves as RSS people, asked the usual questions about the “genocide of Kashmiri Pandits” and the “Islamic terrorism” in the valley. To their credit, the answers they received seemed to genuinely surprise them. (The fact that there are at least 4000 Kashmiri pandits still living and working with reasonable dignity in Kashmir; the fact that whatever the labels they may carry, the armed militants do draw emotional and sentimental – if not material – support in the Kashmir valley, even today.) Even if viewing the film may not have transformed their views on Kashmir completely, or even substantially, our friends from the RSS did seem a little puzzled…
Most gratifying was the tremendous response to the poetry in the film, and one gentleman who was very keen to know how quickly we could come up with a Hindi version of the film, admitted that translating the Kashmiri poems of Zarif Ahmed ‘Zarif’ and Pyare ‘Hatash’ would be an intimidating task.
Published May 31, 2007
poetry , reflections , words
The kite of the smoky chinars is not a symbol
The rose has migrated from the garden of paradise
Freedom will never come
Poured into goblets waiting to be raised
Martyrdom is a handout from god the hagiographer.
Only poetry of ruins is real.
The dumb rose still blooms
From some beloved breast torn open.
Robin S Ngangom
26 May 2007
Robin S Ngangom is one of the major Indian poets writing in English today. He is based in Shillong and also writes in Meitei.