August 5, 2010

Mirza Ghalib – A biographical Scenario by Gulzar

I happened to chance upon this beautiful book last evening while i was spending time at a bookshop. Absolutely captivating so much so I was just unable to drop the book for a moment. almost spent a couple of hours at the store reading it and another hour at the hair dresser....still reading it!!! A collectors item in my opinion.

Here is a small write-up by Anuradha Goyal where she describes the synopsis of the read. This was written in 2007.

This is not a typical biography that traces the life and time of Ghalib, but a more poetic anthology, a few defining scenes of his life that give a jest of what Ghalib was. It has 17 chapters or 17 scenes. Book describes a bit of his childhood and his marriage to Umrao Jaan, who remained his only wife all his life, His relationship with her and the faith that she had put in him. They never agreed on their views on many things, most prominent being religion and its rituals, but they still had all the love and faith for each other.

It traces the situations in his that lead him to say most of his famous couplets. Without describing him, it etches out the character of Ghalib very well, who was a drunkard and a gambler all his life and never felt apologetic about it. He lived most of his life in debt. He knew he is a poet and he would not do anything else. He knew he deserved to be the poet laureate of Delhi, and he would not take any other position but that in the court of Bahadur Shah Zafar. He is eccentric, knows this fact, he not only accepts this fact but also enjoys it.

It talks about the courtesan who falls in love with him. She is the only one who predicts that one day he would be Dilli’s poet laureate. When people say he is in debt, she says’ what about the debt that the whole Dilli owes him?’ Ghalib also promises to gift her a shawl if that happened and a series of events take him to her grave, where he presents her the promised shawl.

The whole book is interspersed with poetry in Urdu and translated in English. There is context setting, followed by the couplets and if you understand Urdu a bit, you can simply get lost in the romanticism of the poetry and in his way with the words (andaz-e-bayan), in his ability to question everyone and everything. For example, he would not say that ‘my heart is crying’, but he would say ‘why should my heart not cry?’

Gulzar calls himself the third servant of Ghalib, two others are mentioned across the book and formed an important part of the portrayal of the poet. An easy to read small book, a good reading for anyone who admires or appreciates Urdu poetry.

Read the review @mouthshut

This is where you can buy the book:
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Jamuna said...

Ghalib is a rabbit hole...I have been Miss Alice for about a year now. Always interested to read about him. I picked up Ghalib's compilation in January, such a thick and fat volume of heart wrenching beauty, I cannot rest it on my legs. The circulation stops under its weight.. :)

SuhaelAmrita said...

You know J, having watched Ghalib as a child has left me with memories which are irreplaceable and now that I am nearing mid life the quest to know more is getting deeper.
I can so feel the numbness of the weight but thanks to the intrigue there is no stopping.
Baby steps towards renewed understanding of Ghalib and I am so wanting to move to giant leaps now...

Thanks for leaving behind your thoughts. Truly appreciated!

Jamuna said...

Bekhudi besabab nahi ghalib...

Thanks for the post too.

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