ACTRESS Deepti Naval released her first book of English Poems titled Black Wind at the Corner Bookstore in Mumbai on December 20. The event was attended by most of her friends and acquaintances from the film industry, and you could tell she was pleased.
Speaking about her book she says, “It is divided into two parts; the first part Black Wind, talks of life in general and relationships. The second, Silent Scream, is specifically to do with a lot of women in mental institutions.
As for why she wrote about women and not men in such institutions it is because men are housed in a separate ward – and she lived with women.
Yes, lived with them during the
course of writing a script about them. That says
a lot for her commitment to the project but it
also raises a question. Does she believe writers
or actors ought to live the lives of people they
portray? “Well, everyone has his own views
on this, For me it was essential to go through
it. I remember losing so much weight before shooting
the film Kamla where I had to look like a starved
creature, ” Ms. Naval answers, “Similarly
, I felt I had to stay in the mental institution
to find out what life was really like behind those
closed doors rather than write a fictionalized
account, an imagined version of what it might
She reports that the inmates
of that mental institution were like children,
frightening you because they were scared of you.
“I was greatly moved by what I saw. Those
women are not to be shunned and put away.”
believes Ms. Naval. “In fact, there were
some of them who were in perfect health but whose
families were not willing to take them back.”
“I have no favourites in
the collection,” she says, then pauses to
think, “Actually, I have many favourites.
I was not even sure I should publish these works
for a long time after I wrote them. Poetry is
always understood with
with my work"
reference to a poet’s own life and his thought process, and I was not sure many people would relate to, or identify with my work. But I was surprised that they did! Black Wind, in particular, is something a lot of people have admired and liked.”
She was persuaded to publish her poems during a reading session in Ahmedabad which was organized by Mallika Sarabhai and publisher Bipin Shah of Mapin Publishers. “They had a reading at the Darpana Academy and it went off very well. That is when Mr. Shah offered to publish them for me, and I agreed,” Ms. Naval recalls.
This may be her first compilation
in English but Deepti Naval had in 1982 released
a book in Hindi named Lamha Lamha. “That
was about things like nature and romance, but
that was 20 years ago, when one had not been touched
by the harsh realities!” she laughs. “Those
were times one had a lot to look forward to, when
one’s philosophy of looking at life was
different. Of course there was some reality in
that book too.
Some readers might find Black Wind too stark and morbid for their liking, but Ms. Naval had a purpose behind writing that way. “One cannot escape looking at the dark, for it is all around us. Yet I would say I am an eternal optimist ! I think sorrow is as precious as joy, pain is as precious as bliss ! ”
Life has given her a share of
both. Ms. Naval has lately started a charity organization
in memory of her companion Vinod Pandit who is
no more. The trust helps orphan girls in their
education. “It is at a nascent stage actually,
we just have a few girls whose education we are
sponsoring right now. But we hope to get bigger
with corporate support, and we do take an active
interest in monitoring their progress too,”
Ms. Naval says.
On the work front, she is currently
debating a script which has come to her for consideration,
and is also thinking of holding an exhibition
of her paintings in New Delhi. Leisurely moments
are spent at a little church in Erengal in suburban
Mumbai, which she has also talked of in her book.