She charmed the camera and then moved on to pen poems. Her first exhibition of photographs shows that Deepti Naval is just as good behind the camera reports BALPREET

'Will you do something for me?

When I die.

Will you bury the cloud with me?'

Deepti Naval

WHETHER it is with a pen, a paint-brush or the lens, the passion with which Deepti Naval creates clouds is for real. Clouds in grey, white, blue, wafting across the Ladakh sky. Crystal streams cutting the grey hardness of the mountain, rivulets lining Vincent Van Gogh’s yellow. Meet Deepti Naval the woman behind the lens. In Chandigrah recently for her first exhibition – “In Search Of Another Sky - it appeared as if another horizon had opened up for her. Of photography, to begin with. So when was it that she fell in love with the camera?

I had majored in painting in New York and photography was one of the subjects I studied alongside.

Was this romance with the camera a fallout of her experience before it?

"Well may be there’s some intrinsic influence. But I guess it has more to do with the sketching classes I attended as a child."

A Director in The Making?

ASK her that and her prompt reply is “Hopefully I have penned a script about women in a mental asylum – a possibility I explored after playing a mentally challenged woman in Amol Palackar’s Ankahee for which I visited an asylum in Ranchi. The experience jolted me, enough to pen poetry, I wish to make a film on it some day. But it’s not easy to raise money for such a dark subject.” She believes in dreams, right? "Oh dreams," she beams, "they’re life, you cling to them. A kid is born with dreams in his eyes and spends the rest of his life chasing them." The faith shows as she recalls how Balraj Sahni’s visit to Amritsar (where she was born and did her schooling) for a theatre festival made her marvel. It must be great being an actor. She was six then with a mind set on acting.

Act one:

So how was it when it happened? "A heart warming experience. Being an actor gets you to meet different people, be varied characters, live many hued emotions. It all keeps adding on to your personality. For if you have played it, you’ve lived it, you've made it part of your own experience." That explains the easy depth with which she consummated her characters in EK BAAR PHIR, AASHIANA , KAMLA, SAATH SAATH and the role of a painter in PANCHVATI, the one closest to her.

Back to painting, Naval’s brush strokes drift over mountains, flowing along brooks, meandering in the wasteland. Her lens drifts too, exploring. These are very personal experiences. Taking off, just anywhere in the wilderness, capturing moments. It’s so exciting. And then, one day like this, sharing it with people. She says.

Her Poetry

RISING from diary jottings, shoved into chests and drawers, her poems keep appearing suddenly, days, months, years after being inked. A look at an extension of Deepti, on her relationship with Smita Patil –

‘I’d said,
There must be another way of living this life

For a long time, you remained silent
Then without blinking
Without turning
Said ‘there isn’t’

Today you are gone
And I am still running
Still trying
To prove you wrong.’

A self confessed vagabond. Deepti Naval doesn’t believe in planning. “I get some free time and I take off…to the fishermen village along the Mumbai coast. And where is she now? “As if in my 20’s... ready to take on life from this point onwards.... I wonder if years mean anything...”