Write ups




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 be.”

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

"I was surprised when people identified 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.