Write ups



She has her brains in her heart or the heart in her head. She lives the experience twice. First when she actually lands in a situation and takes the full experience of life. The second, when she filters it, takes the essence of a poem and relives it.

That’s Gulzar on Deepti Naval. The actress-poet-photographer-painter was in town for the Calcutta launch of her book, Black Wind and Other
Poems, at Oxford bookstore on Tuesday. A collection of personal reflections, the book is a montage of thoughts that Deepti experienced over the years. The voice resonates at the end of it all is a strong feminine force that bends the inner anguish with the outer ecstasy.

“The poems do refer to my life. And that’s what poetry should be. It needs a reference of the poet’s life and times. Without that, as a reader, you cannot fully fathom the poems. Yes, the thoughts may be personal but I had to express them publicly. I myself have read other poets’ personal poems and related to them completely. So why shouldn’t let others identify with mine? In that way, none of us can express ourselves at all,” said an animated Deepti.

It wasn’t surprising that some of the best expressionists from Bengal were present for Deepti’s book launch. Director Buddhadeb Dasgupta, who usually avoids such formal dos, was at the bookstore to do the honours. Also present to offer his best wishes was film-maker Goutam Ghose. “I am so happy to see these old friends of mine joining me on this special occasion,” exclaimed Deepti.

The title Black Wind might send out signals of the book being dark and morbid but Deepti has other reasons to call the collection so. “It is one of the poems in the book and one of the most significant poems at that. There was a certain amount of craft that was involved in writing that particular poem. It was not easy at all to write it and so I decided to call the book by that name.”

The book itself is divided into two parts. While one half, comprising 50 poems, is Deepti’s personal reflections and her interactions with certain important people in her life, the other half is about the women’s lives in a mental asylum as seen through poet Deepti’s eyes.

“I had gone to this mental asylum to write a script. There I got to observe a lot of women. Those images stayed with me for a long time and they finally came out after all these years in the form of poetry. I have called that set of poems “Silent Scream.”

Of the personal poems, there are verses on Deepti’s relationship with some known faces like Smita Patil and Shabana Azmi. “At places, I have mentioned the people I have referred to and at places I haven’t to safeguard the privacy of all those involved. After all, it is just my thought process at work and many may not like it. There is a poem about me and Smita (Patil), who has been such a special friend. Of course she is no more and there is no question of feedback. But the general feedback that I have received from the people in Mumbai has been very heart-warming.”

This sudden emergence of Deepti Naval the poet doesn’t mean curtains for Deepti Naval the actress. “No, I can certainly do films again. But I have to get the right roles. I just can’t do anything that is dished out to me. ”

Of her different creative identities of a painter, poet, actress and photographer, Deepti knows where each avatar stands in her life. “Painting is something I enjoy doing. Photography comes as a package with my love for trekking. As for acting, it is the easiest of the lot. Not so for writing. Writing is difficult. One needs a lot of guts to put you out there. Poetry tells the world who you are. I find the process of writing quite fascinating - you are constantly analyzing yourself as you put your thoughts on paper. When you are acting, you are somebody else. When you are writing, you are yourself and it is tough being yourself.

Pratim D. Gupta