Noted lyricist Gulzar today rued lack of Rabindranath Tagore’s works in school textbooks and says children should be introduced to the Nobel Laureate’s vast collection of poems and stories.
Gulzar discovered Tagore through an Urdu translation of “The Gardener” at the age of 10 and fell in love with his poetry.
He has now translated the Bard’s poems in books “Baghbaan” and “Nindiya Chor”, which is based mostly on “Shishu”, Tagore’s book of poems on the world of the child.
This two-book set, published by HarperCollins, is Gulzar’s tribute to the poet Laureate of India.
“I wish that Tagore’s works are taught in schools here. There are a few stories and poems like ‘Kabuliwala’ that are taught. But I fail to understand why his works are not extensively part of the curriculum in schools.
“I agree there are not many good translations of his works. Even those which Tagore translated himself are not that good. These books are my effort to get Tagore reach more people,” Gulzar said.
He said taking on the job of translating Tagore was daunting for him and it took him five years to complete.
“It was a massive challenge. Translating is not just about putting out the meaning of the piece. It is about understanding what the poet is trying to say, getting into the mood of the poem. You also have to understand the cultural nuances in the poem and give out the perfect meaning.”
Also present at the event was veteran actress Sharmila Tagore, whose maternal grandmother Latika Tagore was the granddaughter of Rabindranath’s brother Dwijendranath.
The actress said she grew up reading the great poet’s works and that feels privileged to come from the same family.
“Tagore has written about everything be it romance, rains, spirituality, families, relationships. He has touched upon very emotion through his works. Even now when it rains, I get a book of his and start reading. Such has been his influence on me,” said Sharmila, who along with Gulzar read few poems from the collection.
Gulzar said he does not feel ‘Geetanjali’ for which Tagore was honoured with the Nobel Prize, was not his best work.
“Geetanjali was his collection of poems to present to the west. It was not his high. It was a soothing collection for the west which was recovering from the World War 1 and that’s why it gained the status it has.”