Autumn Moon by गुलज़ार [Gulzar]Well, this is yet another English translation of the poems of great Gulzar. That alone – almost - justifies the 5-star rating. There are few poets in the Indian poetry scene today that can weave a poem out of even the seemingly mundane and banal things. Be it a single leaf perched precariously on a branch, or a deserted road, a sliver of moon or a still lake, there is nothing in the world that Gulzar cannot write beautifully about. That alone can justify my prejudiced decision to rate the book with a 5-star rating, even before my opening the cover.
However, this book deserves a five-star rating just for being the work of Gulzar, and not for the efforts of J.P.Das, the translator. The first time I read the poetry of Gulzar was through the translations of Pavan K.Varma, a master translator. I have gone through the translations by Nirupama Dutt and Rina Singh too, but the translations of Pavan K.Varma clearly stand out. Not just for the reason of his being the first works I read, but also for the quality of the translations.
The role of a translator is in no way to second to that of the author. Translating a literary work from one language to another is not just about swapping words, but also ensuring that the spirit of the letters is not lost in the process. Few people can do it with flair. Not just in making you love the poem, but also in stoking your interest to the extent of your wanting to read the originals by yourself and relish the same without an intermediary. Pavan Varma stands streets ahead of the others. This translation feels so insipid and routine when compared to his translations.
Again, they are all poems that are present in all the other previous translations too, and hence, there is nothing much new in terms of content as well. But, as I already said, this is a collection of poems by Gulzar and that alone is a reason good enough for 5-star rating. If you want to seriously indulge in Gulzar’s poetry, pick either ‘Selected Poems’ or ‘Neglected Poems’, both being the translations by Pavan Varma.
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