Shantiveer Kaul is always original; be it prose, poetry, write-ups or social media interactions. Fluent in written and spoken Urdu, Hindi, Kashmiri and English, he demonstrates a gifted skill in translation as well. Whenever he uses his pen in the fields of literature, art, music, theatre or current affairs, nothing escapes his discerning eye and analytical mind. Being the son of Dina Nath Nadim, a doyen of modern Kashmiri poetry, sharpness of observation and skill of presentation have come to him genetically. Having worked with Doordarshan as producer, he possesses a rich experience of the electronic media. Add to that, he has ample experience of print media apart from knowing the intricacies of editing and directing television plays, serials and films. All said and done, Shantiveer essentially remains a poet.
A poet of modern genre in Urdu who once rubbed shoulders with doyens like Agha Amir Qazalbash, Kumar Pashi, Dushyant Kumar and many more heavyweights.
In free verse, Shantiveer carries forward the tradition set by Akhtar ul Iman and Noon Meem Rashid. In respect of other genre (non-free verse) of poems included in the compilation under review, the reader is impressed by the brilliance of form, cadence and meter.
The themes of Shantiveer’s poetry run from the issues of existence to the relationship between words and meanings, between language and awareness and the creative process that produces poetry and other arts. Shantiveer has no doctrine or philosophy to preach. I strongly believe that his poetry is to be enjoyed as an aesthetic experience. This collection is going to fetch Shantiveer the much deserved space amongst modern Urdu poets of the Indian subcontinent.
The book under review is spread over 180 pages containing free verse, Gazals, Quatrains and Shers. It has introductory commentaries by two independent writers namely, Saifi Sironji and Muneebur Rehman. Saifi Sironji and Muneebur Rehman have commented on the style and subject of Shantiveer’s poetry. Saifi is a well known Urdu poet and Muneeb (son of Kashmiri poet Amin Kamil ) lives in the US where he works as director at The Boston Language Institute. About Shantiveer’s poems, Saifi Sironji writes this:
“When I read Shantiveer’s poems, I kept reading them again and again. Something that is impossible to say in the Gazal format, Shantiveer has said all that freely through his Nazms. Some of his poems are so beautiful that one feels duty bound to appreciate Shantiveer’s creativity and thought process. I wonder why we have remained deprived of this beautiful poetry till now. Thank God this collection stands published.”
And Muneebur Rehman writes this:
“The poems included in this collection are in simple language yet full of creative energy and liveliness. Like a wrapped up carpet, these poems open line after line to reveal the beauty of composition and poetic imagery. I am of the opinion that Shantiveer’s poetry fits aptly into Robert Frost’s definition of good poetry. I am optimistic that in the Nazm genre of what is emerging in Urdu poetry in the entire Indo–Pak subcontinent, this collection shall find many well wishers apart from enhancing creative inertia.”
This poetic collection derives its title from Allama Iqbal’s famous couplet:
“Bagh e bahisht se mujhe hukam e safar diya tha kyon
Kaar e jahaan daraaz hai ab mera intezaar kar “
(Why did you command me to leave paradise
My work here is unfinished so you will have to wait)
This collection has some small yet crisp and beautiful poems like Hikaayat, Kinaare, Bekhudi, Dhoop, Ehsaas,Yeh Din, Tajveez, Yeh To Ek Raat Hai, Holi, Ram Nam Sat Hai, Daak Ticket, Still Life, Pahli Baarish, Neev Ka Pather, Kaali Raat, Aamadh and Aagahi. I quote poem Hikaayat :-
“ Maana Hum hain saath
Magar iss waqt ke zaalim khanjar ki
Zarb agar donon par aayi
Dard to apna apna hai”
(Agreed, we happen
to be together this moment,
But should the cruel sword
We shall suffer the pain individually.)
There is a dedication in this collection as well. Although the collection in its entirety has been dedicated to some unnamed entity, the book bears individual poems dedicated to the memory of poet Kumar Paashi and short story writer Hriday Kaul Bharati. The poem dedicated to the memory of Kumar Paashi begins like this:
“Tu hai ameer e karwaan
Ye baat to durusat hai
Ye baat bhi durusat hai
Ye mera Karwaan nahin.”
The collection has many Gazals that are refreshingly beautiful bringing forth fresh imagery while at the same time retaining traditional issues like love, longing, separation, loneliness and metaphysical questions. A sample of Shantiveer’s Gazal style is as under:
Tujh tak jaate jaate rahein kitani kam ho jaati hain
Lafz kinaara kartein hain baatein mubham ho jaati hain
Din darpan ratein ardaas
Saansein vahi milan ki aas
Baaton mein begaana-pan
Aankhon mein bharpoor mithaas
Jo bhi tum ne maana hai
Yeh to sirf bahaana hai
Darya paar hawa ka gaaon
Naav chala kar jaana hai.
Most of the poems included in the collection under review appeared on the facebook timeline of the poet. The freshness of the subjects dealt, the richness of the imagery and the simplicity of the language was widely appreciated by scores of followers and friends of Shantiveer. These Gazals and Nazms appeared as scattered pearls. Now that these pearls have been gathered and given the shape of a garland, it shall be a good experience to possess the garland. Accordingly, I recommend the book to every lover of good poetry. For a broader reach , I look forward for a Devnagari edition of this compilation.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.