Tagore – Through the eyes of Gulzar Part II

In an earlier post, I have shared how Robi babu rules over my heart in the most unprecedented way possible. And no, I do not claim to know everything about him, so every new bit about him that I get to know now gives a new taste to my longing for him! And as usual, he had already written the lines for me, way back in time…

জানি শুধু তুমি আছ তাই আছি, তুমি প্রাণময় তাই আমি বাঁচি,
যত পাই তোমায় আরো তত যাচি, যত জানি তত জানি নে।

No! No! No! I can’t get into the loop again! In this post, as decided, I will concentrate on the other man I had mentioned… the man who writes only in Urdu text; wears only white kurta pajama in every public appearance; has a poetic hangover of the partition that split his family between Deen in Pakistan and Mumbai in India in the process; and pens the most beautiful pictures with his words – Sampooran Singh Kalra, better known as Gulzar.

And to think his father rebuked him for writing! There had always been something more than mundane about this man who had started working at a garage mixing colours to patch up dents and marks in accident-hit cars. Not a very poetic start from a general perspective, but looking at it from a continuity point of view… he still seems to be doing the same! Patching up dents in our minds, hearts, and souls with a colourful mix of words that flow effortlessly like a bubbly stream running down from the mountains…

Yes, his simplistic words, no matter how repetitive they might sound at times, magically bring the “waadis”, “pagdandis”, “chulhaas”, “bargads”, ”kohras”, “dhoops” and “muhallas” and so many more mundane, oft overlooked things to life. That is the magic of Gulzar Saab! What an artist, and to think that he and I have at least one thing in common – love for Robi babu! Thrilling! Such is his love for the bard that he learnt Bangla just to be able to translate not just the words, but the feelings that led to each magical verse. Now that is what I call love!


These lines written to describe what Robi Babu’s works mean to him are sheer poetry!

“एक देहाती सिर पे गूढ़ की भेली बांधे लम्बे चौड़े एक मैदान से गुज़र रहा था
गूढ़ की खुशबू सूंघ के भीन भीन करती एक छतरी सर पे मंडलाती थी
धुप चड़ी और सूरज की गर्मी पहुंची तो गूढ़ की भेली बहने लगी
मासूम देहाती हैरान था… माथे से मीठे मीठे क़तरे गिरते थे, और वो जीभ से चाट रहा था
मैं देहाती, मेरे सिर पे ये Tagore की कविता की भेली किसने रख दी?”

“A poor villager passes through a huge field balancing solid cakes of jaggery on his head. Oblivious to him, a huge cloud of bees keep moving with him, attracted by the sweet rustic smell of fresh jaggery. As the sun reaches its peak, drops of molten jaggery start dripping from the load on his head as the poor bewildered villager keep licking it dry, still wondering what to do…

Like that poor bewildered villager, I too keep wondering who placed this sweet-smelling load of Tagore’s poetry on my head…”

The manifestation of this love has taken various forms over time, but the most recent and melodious one is the highly recommended album I introduced in an earlier post – Gulzar in conversation with Tagore – A beautifully ornate veil strung melodiously together by Santanu Moitra, Shaan, Shreya Ghoshal and Gulzar Saab.

Today’s pick – O Sakhi Sun, sung by the beautifully melodious Shreya Ghoshal.

O Sakhi Sun

Put to tune by two very illustrious members of the Tagore family – Jyotirindranath Tagore – Robi babu’s elder brother and Dinendranath Tagore – his grandnephew, this beauty is a lesser heard Robindrosongeet written way back in 1893.

প্রেম – ১৫০

সখী, আমারি দুয়ারে কেন আসিল
নিশিভোরে যোগী ভিখারি।
কেন করুণস্বরে বীণা বাজিল॥

আমি আসি যাই যতবার চোখে পড়ে মুখ তার,
তারে ডাকিব কি ফিরাইব তাই ভাবি লো ॥

শ্রাবণে আঁধার দিশি শরতে বিমল নিশি,
বসন্তে দখিন বায়ু, বিকশিত উপবন–

কত ভাবে কত গীতি গাহিতেছে নিতি নিতি
মন নাহি লাগে কাজে, আঁখিজলে ভাসি লো ॥

And while I can never, even in my wildest of dreams, think of doing justice to the translation the way Gulzar Saab does, I can still try and make this my ode to both the poets.

“Tell me, my friend,
Why, oh why does the blessed mendicant come begging
at my doorsteps at the break of dawn?
Why does his lute play the most melancholy tunes…
as he passes by my doorstep every dawn?

Why does he sit such that my gaze wanders over his face every time I walk past?
Why do I keep wondering whether to summon or to send him back? Tell me, my friend…

And I can see him sitting…through dark monsoon nights or clear autumn ones…
Even as the southern breeze caresses the blooming buds nearby in early spring…

And I can hear him sing a new song every day with a tune and new words,
every time… that mesmerize and enchant me such!
Why, oh why do my tears wash away my reserve and keep flowing endlessly,
As the blessed mendicant sits singing close to my doorstep, from one dawn to the next?
Tell me, my friend…”

8 thoughts on “Tagore – Through the eyes of Gulzar Part II

  1. Nice writeup. The translation is beautiful. I would suggest replacing “entrance” with “enchant” since the former has a very strong association with another meaning.


  2. You and your writing reflects your true love for the two enigmatic poets you love.
    Eto sundor aar seamlessly lekho tumi, porte porte jeno hothat sesh hoye jaae, aar pathok hisebe mone hoye, ‘ei jaah’.
    Aaro lekhar opekhkhae roilam. Onekgulo pora hoyni, ei matro sob kota porbo. 💖
    Ami Gulzar er biography pore jaante perechilam je taar bon-er soshurbari Daltonganj-e, sei jene ja khushi aapluto hoyechilam ki bolbo! 😂


  3. Really admirable. Enchanting. You are bringing the world of Tagore to the enthusiasts beyond the language bar. Kudos.


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