The 72-year-old poet still writes in Urdu, shuns the computer and pens his compositions on paper. Gulzar’s latest collection of translated poems was released in New Delhi earlier this week, compiling 45 of his most lyrical poems, translated by author-translator, Pavan K Varma in English.
The book carries the original Urdu version on its left hand pages, with the English translation on the corresponding right page. Both the author and translator hope that the differences remain confined to just this singular fact. Varma says,”Translation of this kind of poetry is not easy. Its akin to transferring perfume from one bottle to another. How ever hard you try, some of its original fragrance is bound to get lost. ”
Publishers say the market for poetry in India continues to be small and niche but poets like Gulzar and Kaifi Azmi have a loyal readership and they also pull in new poetry lovers. With Indian publishing industry growing, the business of translation is poised to refine further. It will also provide opportunity for some brilliant works in vernacular to be translated in English. Clearly, translation is the way to go,” says Udayan Mitra, senior managing editor at Penguin India.
Priced at Rs295, the book has some fascinating poems on actor Naseeruddin Shah and music composer R D Burman. In many ways, it provides a window to Gulzar’s personal life.