28 January 2014
Analysing Gulzar's Story "Khauf" from the book "Ravi Paar"
Sampooran Singh Kalra (born 18 August 1934), known popularly by his pen name Gulzar, is an Indian poet, lyricist and director. He primarily writes in Hindustani (Hindi-Urdu) and Punjabi; besides several dialects of Hindi such as Braj Bhasha, Khariboli, Haryanvi and Marwari.
Gulzar was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2004 for his contribution to the arts and the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2002. He has won a number of National Film Awards and 20 Filmfare Awards. At the 81st Academy Awards, he won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for "Jai Ho" (shared with A.R.Rahman), for the film Slumdog Millionaire. On 31 January 2010, the same song won him a Grammy Award in the category of Grammy Award for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media.
Gulzar's poetry is partly published in three compilations: Chand Pukhraaj Ka, Raat Pashminey Ki and Pandrah Paanch Pachattar (15-05-75). His short stories are published in Raavi-paar (also known as Dustkhat in Pakistan) and Dhuan (smoke).
As a lyricist, Gulzar is best known for his association with the music directors Rahul Dev Burman, A. R. Rahman and Vishal Bhardwaj. He has also worked with other leading Bollywood music directors including Sachin Dev Burman, Salil Chowdhury, Shankar Jaikishan, Hemant Kumar, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Madan Mohan, Rajesh Roshan, Anu Malik, and Shankar–Ehsaan–Loy. Along with lyrics, he has also contributed in many films as script, story and dialogue writer. Films directed by him have also won numerous awards and have been critically acclaimed. He also had worked on small screen by creating series Mirza Ghalib and Tahreer Munshi Premchand ki among others. He wrote lyrics for several Doordarshan serials including Hello Zindagi, Potli Baba ki and Jungle Book.
About the Book
Raavi Paar-Across River Ravi
Raavi Paar is a collection of short stories that touch your soul like a breeze and leave an impression on your heart like footprints on sand.
'Gulzar' was the only reason I picked up this book.
Simple style and easy-to-comprehend language are the highlights of Gulzar's stories. There is a strong local flavour in his writing and the themes are strongly rooted in Punjabi culture and history. However, the spirit and emotions that are conveyed are universal.
Fear, love, friendship, loneliness, etc that are inseparable parts of human consciousness are portrayed through his characters, who are easily identifiable and real. There is no sense of the fantastic or un-real but the situations are so life-like and the human reactions so humane that
the un-real element creeps in uninhibitedly.
Gulzar, the poet, makes his presence felt all the time. There is an easy flow and rhythm to the stories and they are inter-linked not by a character or theme but with the very fact that the crux of all the stories is the human mind. Instead of directly unveiling the political or social truths behind the dramas of life, Gulzar takes the readers en route human sub-conscious mind and the truth then revealed is not limited to one single person. It becomes universal and all encompassing.
For those who enjoy the earthy touch, the lyrical mysticism and the elusive surreal element of Gulzar's movies will definitely like the short stories in Raavi Paar, especially the title story, which narrates an interesting episode from the author's life. Except for this story none of the others are autobiographical. Enriching and enticing, this book would make a good two-hour reading.
SUMMARY OF EACH STORY
A man gets thrown off a moving train by a man who is afraid that he will be killed by the other.
A yesteryear starlet dies of a heart attack after she realizes she mistakenly unburdened her heart to a property broker.
The last wish of a Muslim man to be cremated after death leaves an entire qasbah in flames.
A poor woman is at edge thinking Maharaj is after her izzat. Maharaj's old father does not figure in her worries till the end.
A poor farmer thinks of saving land from the zamidars. He tries, but in the end gauges his courage, or lack of it, to be of a level somewhere in between that of communists and dacoits.
A subject asks his writer what did all his well-written stories change when the subject still finds himself the same.
A dead baby gets breastfed while a living one mistakenly gets thrown off a train and into a river.
A man spends years observing the night skies seeking the star of Galib's fate.
Her son too is cruel to her, just like her husband and all the other men in her life.
In a biographical story, a family mistakenly claims Gulzar as its own, a child they lost in Partition.
A woman remembering her youth, its unhappy love story, treats her young daughter just the way her mother treated her, cruelly.
Michelangelo finds the face of Jesus in old Judas.
Bimal Roy plans a movie on man's quest for amrit - immortality - and dies of cancer after smoking his last cigarette.
A man who braved people crying over his fate all the time commits suicide on the day of his marriage because he couldn't handle people laughing at him.
A man meets a ghost who admires Krishnamurti.
A woman's marriage turns out to be a process for acquiring cheap labour.
A little girl's heart is broken by Dilip Kumar.
A midget adopts the baby of a dead woman of 'dubious reputation'.
A boy boards a train running away from his wrinkly old daadi only to realize how much he loved her.
A woman leaves her husband and then learns to love him.
A village idiot is missed only after he is made to disappear.
A pre-historic boy discovers fire and creates mythologies.
A patriarchal tree and life around it get destroyed during partition, and so it happens to a country and its way of life.
A man is cruel to his childhood sweetheart.
Animals finally wage a war against man, just when man wages a war to protect wildlife.
According to many theorists and critiques, the main theme of the entire book, roams around the partition of India and Pakistan. Gulzar says:
. ज़मीं भी उसकी,ज़मी की नेमतें उसकी,
ये सब उसी का है,घर भी,ये घर के बंदे भी,
खुदा से कहिये,कभी वो भी अपने घर आयें!"
This entire earth belongs to the lord almighty. We are his children and everything , which belong to us , are his gifts. There is no such thing as limitation or boundaries in earth. These are just created by human beings and have no place in almighty's creation. Someday, the divine judgement will take place and that day, every boundary will be removed.
Roland Barthes says in "Death of the Author":
The power of the author in reading and analyzing writing, and the power of the reader or listener and the option to more or less ignore the work's background and focus more on the work itself. When critically viewing writing, "the author, his person, his life, his tastes, his passions" (Barthes 383) takes the spotlight; the author is forced to take sole responsibility of the failure or success of the work.
With this viewpoint the creator's work is a direct passage to the creator himself (or herself), which seems to take away from the text itself. The information not said within the work dictates the work. Research must be done on the era of the writer, the socio-political stance of the writer, the context in which the work was written, etc. All of those elements culminate into the limitation and constriction of interpreting the text as nothing but itself.
This point ultimately leads to Barthes main point: the reader holds more responsibility to the text than the author. The complexity of different connotations and experiences that come from the author into the text are flattened when it arrives to the reader. The reader comes empty handed and is completely impersonalized with the text. It is as if a sculpture, a three dimensional work, is photographed, reduced to two dimensions. So much information is condensed and made inaccessible to the viewer. Barthes makes the point that the origin of a work may lie with the author, but its destination is with the reader.
On the other hand, Foucault's viewpoint on Author in "What is an author?" can be sighted in the following stories too. Foucault begins by introducing the idea of an author as an individualisation within a field such as literature or philosophy. As the notion of an author quite obviously arose within literature originally, work on authorship focuses heavily on
literature, and this is something that also features in work on genre. Because of this, it often means that it is harder to apply the theories to film.
However, Foucault believes that when studying theories of genre and other similar concepts, it becomes clear that they are of inferior quality, and not as useful as studying work through the lense of authorship. It could be argued that authorship lets us define meaning more clearly, because if we accept the author as the solitary producer of meaning within a work, perhaps we can define and understand the piece more completely.
Foucault presents an interesting idea that could oppose this, suggesting that the writing of or creation of a piece of work is almost a sacrifice, a voluntary disappearance into your creation, the 'death of the author'. He criticises a theory that attempts to support this idea, arguing that while it intends to displace the author, it in fact does the opposite, upholding it and suppressing the real reasons for an author's literary 'death'. This theory proposes we study a piece not through, or to understand, the work's relationship with the author, but through analysing the work's form and content. The issue with this theory is that, as Foucault reminds us, that to consider a piece of writing a 'work', we have to first have an author, otherwise would not every piece of writing be a work, and worthy of analysis? He then interestingly points out that even if we do consider someone an author, we can surely not believe that everything they wrote in their lives constitutes a 'work'. This evidently means that when studying a work in the way the theory proposes, you must be aware of the context of the author, and Foucault states that it is inadequate to claim we should study the work and disregard the author. In these theories, however, surrounding the 'death of an author', he draws our attention to the importance of studying the space left behind, and the possibilities
this presents, for example, the 'birth' of the audience, and the recognition of them as fundamental to finding significance within a work.
"KHAUFF" OF INDIA PAKISTAN PARTITION
The partition of the country shook the not only states and regions but, also the heart, faith and trust of lakh's of Hindus, Muslim and Sikh's. Khauff is about one such riot which takes place on the small town of the Punjab's border. How people suffered and how the innocent's were slaughtered without an ounce of mercy. It takes you to the time when blood drained in sewer lines like normal garbage, when trains and buses from the border were laided with dead corpses and when every heart feared the outcome of such devilry. Gulzar has efficiently 'killed' himself in the following story and has created the new minds of the reader. Truly, "Death of an author" can be seen in it. On the other hand, Foucault cannot be ignored again.
Foucault also raises the issues surrounding an author's name, but although he explores these and the difficulties that arise, he does not fully resolve the issues, as he himself admits. The issues lie in what the name signifies, and Foucault explains that an author's name is, like all other names, a description of the person, without just one signification but of endless meanings, resulting in it being unable to be turned into a singular reference. However, the issues raised by an author's name are more complex that that of an 'ordinary name', they function as a representation of the author's body of work. An author's name, as Foucault puts it, has a role, performing a 'classificatory function'. This name, in a manner similar to genre, creates the ability to group together a number of works and 'define them, differentiate them from, and contrast them to others.' Foucault's well-expressed summary of the function a
name has, can help us understand the idea of an author having a persona or being a symbol, rather than an ordinary individual.
Serious, poignant in some; funny and ironic in others - Gulzar s stories bring out his sincerity and sensitivity he is identified with. Refreshingly simple in presentation, each one of them paints a clear picture in the minds of the reader - as vivid as a scene from one of his films.
Sikh Community website
Jaipur Literary Fest Magazine
Rupa publicationsFlipkart (for the picture)