An evening with Deepti Naval—the poetess

By Poornima Koonath
Deepti Naval

She entered Bollywood like a breath of fresh air and enamoured the audience with her ‘girl-next door’ look. The year was 1979 and the film Ek Baar Phir. While Chashme Buddoor and Angoor explored the comic brilliance in her, films like Kamla and Ankahee brought out the more serious actor. She can boast of an extensive repertoire of movies under her belt. Deepti Naval, the actress is known to all lovers of good cinema.

On Friday, 12 July, the Sydney audience were introduced to Deepti Naval, the person, the poet. This meeting and this interaction was like none other. The audience were swept off their feet by her simplicity and her charm, besotted by her poetry and her delivery of the words she had penned. The excitement she experienced while she was reading the various pieces and recalling the associated incidents was truly infectious.

Deepti Naval has three bodies of writing to her credit, her collection of poems in Hindi, Lamha Lamha that was published in 1981, her collection of poems in English, Black Wind that was published in 2004 and her first anthology of eleven short stories, The Mad Tibetian: Stories from Then and Now that was published in 2011. Nature and its wildness have always attracted Deepti Naval. She spoke to us about how she would get away at the slightest pretext with just a backpack, a notebook and a camera to explore and pen her innermost feelings. Her poems are deep and very succinctly capture the mood she was in while composing them. She delightfully captures the visions in front of her and cleverly transforms them into lines and verses. Of the poems that she read, there was one on Smita Patil, a fellow actress and close friend. ‘Smita and I’, a touching tribute to their experiences and the times they spend together. It is a tear-jerker and tugs at your heart strings in a very strange fashion as she concludes with the lines…

You are gone, and
I’m still running……
Still trying to
To prove you wrong”

Her memoir of her first meeting with the legendary actor Balraj Sahni, perched on her father’s shoulders, all but nine years old was indeed a delectable one. As she read it to us, we experienced her excitement and her jubilation. That is how clever a story teller she is!

When asked if she has ever thought of humour in poetry, she said, “I can’t be funny. The characters I have played are not me, this is the real me.” For Deepti Naval, poetry is catharsis, something she goes back to time and time again. She also expresses herself through her paintings and her photographs. An artist par excellence this audience with Deepti Naval was a memorable and cherished one. And as I sat there, listening to her, the phrase that came to mind was “Still waters run deep”. The evening was orgnaised by Manju Mittal and SCREAN for making this exclusive rendezvous possible. Looking forward to more such quality programs in the future.


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