Tuesday, November 19, 2013

It's hard to imagine a well known actress moonlighting as an author and poet. But Indian veteran Deepti Naval, along with frequent co-star and personal friend Farooque Shaikh,  came to the 32nd edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair to talk about her collections of short stories and poems. She also read a few of her poems, as well as her well-known short story The Mad Tibetan.

Ms. Naval first spoke about how she started writing, back when she was settled in the United States of America with her parents. 'My father was a professor and writer, and I suppose that's where it all started,' said Ms. Naval. 'When I was attending university, I was surrounded by people who wrote only in English, and this made me want to write in Hindi and Urdu even more. I prefer writing in Hindi and Urdu, with some Punjabi words here and there, because I feel they convey the true meaning of what I want to say.'

L-R: Farooque Shaikh and actress/author Deepti Naval.
Photo Credit: Lavanya Narayan
Ms. Naval proceeded to read a few of her poems from different collections she has authored. The poems include Smita and I (a poem about her relationship with the late actress Smita Patil, her close friend and co-star), Registhan Ki Raat (translated: Night of the Desert), and Goddess, a poem about a mentally unstable woman. Ms. Naval spoke about her inspiration behind the latter, which was the result of her stay at a mental asylum for 23 days as research for a screenplay. 'I couldn't do it superficially, I had to get into their existence,' she said. 'Within four hours of being there, I felt dazed and zombie-like. Certain images from that stay came out as poems, and they are inspired by the women I lived with.' Ms. Naval also spoke about her poem There's A Bird In My Ceiling, which was adapted for a performance piece by Mallika Sarabhai, who is a prominent Indian classical dancer, and later written as a short story as well.

The session was concluded with Ms. Naval reading her famous short story The Mad Tibetan, as well as a question and answer session with the audience.