‘Bhaasha' writing needs to be recognised, Gulzar tells Vishnupriya Bhandaram
A man of sublime penmanship, Gulzar needs no introduction. Dressed in his trademark white kurta and a husk-coloured shawl wrapped around his gentle arms, he set foot in Taramati Baradari for the inauguration of the Hyderabad Literary Festival 2012. Poet, writer and lyricist, Gulzar's written word often transcends the subconscious in an effervescent fashion.
Gulzar's writings often showcase his accurate observation of the circumstances he's in. His works encapsulate clear, beautiful yet simple reflections of day-to-day life. Speaking of language, Gulzar believes that by its very nature, language is ever-evolving. He says there is no reason for us to speak in the Urdu of Ghalib's time; as that would make us outlandish. “We must realise that the language Ghalib used was ‘different' for that time. A sign that a language is alive can be measured by how much it is changing. We don't speak the English spoken in the 17th or 18th century, do we?” he adds.
He strongly feels that literary festivals shouldn't be dominated by Indian writers in English or by the authors of foreign origins. Penetration of writers of regional languages or bhaasha writers as he calls them, he feels, is the need of the hour and that can be achieved by more interaction.
Gulzar mourns that classics in Indian languages are not taught in schools and colleges. “When you can read and recite Yeats and Shakespeare, why not Kalidas? It is important to know how literature is being taught,” he says. Involving school and college students in such festivals is important he feels, “They will be more than happy to get out of the boring routine of school, and might even develop a temper for language and literature,” he suggests, adding that it is first important to gather one's roots to be able to communicate at a larger level. “It is difficult for authors in Indian languages to get the same recognition as the English language writers. Bhaasha writers get buried in such literary festivals,” he adds.
“English has now become the bridge language. It is very important that translations are made. We need good translations and institutes that specialise in translations. Literary translations are being made but they lack quality; that's where Sahitya Akademi has failed.”
On a parting note, he spares a thought for critically acclaimed authors in Tamil and Telugu but wonders if their translated works are available in leading bookstores across the country. Language will sustain by borrowing, but content must first be available, he signs off.