Indian English is actually an Indian language: Gulzar

Updated: Nov 17, 2016, 15:58 IST | Joanna Lobo |

Ahead of being conferred with the Poet Laureate award at the fest, Gulzar talks poetry and Shakespeare

Next week, legendary poet, lyricist, writer and filmmaker Gulzar will be bestowed with the Tata Literature Live Poet Laureate for 2016. “It is a big honour and I am very grateful. I wasn’t even aware that (Anil) Dharker saab had even read my poems. Most people tend to know me only because of my work. It is always a pleasure to find they read my poetry too,” says Gulzar.

“This route has been laid down by Bob Dylan,” he says, laughing. “Because of him people are looking at lyricists in a new light.”

A regular panelist at literature festivals across the country, what does he think of the boom in these festivals?

“If it can bring more people to literature and get them interested in reading, then they are serving their purpose. It is heartening to see so many festivals moving beyond English and focusing on regional, Indian languages,” he says. He commends the upcoming annual festival for picking writers from different languages and focusing on writers and works in Indian English.

“Indian English is actually an Indian language today. This distinction is clear at the festival,” he adds.

At the festival, Gulzar will recite a poem he wrote to commemorate the 400th death anniversary of Shakespeare. The Urdu poem talks about how even today, Shakespeare’s words resonate in a world filled with the same conflicts.

“This poem was my homework. I was apprehensive when told to do this because my English isn’t good. I’ve read his work when I was young; back then I ˆcould quote lines from all his books very easily; now, not so much,” he says. “I hope I get passing marks for my effort.”

If these lines are anything to go by, he deserves an A grade.
Raise the curtain, Shakespeare,
Your characters wait in the wings,
Adorned in their costumes
Their make-up done
Their lines memorised –
Lines that resonate
Four-hundred years later
With the same conflicts:
To be or not be –

On: November 18, 3.30 pm to 4.30 pm
At: Experimental Theatre, NCPA.
Entry: First-come, first-served basis only

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