A Poet at Play

The life of revolutionary Hindi poet Gorakh Pandey will be dramatised for the first time in GorakhSamajvaad babua dheere dheere aaye; Haathi par aaye, ghoda par aaye; Angreji baaja bajayee (Socialism will come slowly, slowly; through notes; through votes; through dollars)

Defined by powerful lines, an uncompromising spirit, revolutionary themes and an eccentric approach, the poems of late Hindi poet Gorakh Pandey have inspired many. Amitabh Bachchan had quoted a translated version of Pandey's The song of the Sensible in his blog, and the band, Indian Ocean, has composed a song from the lyrics of his poem Hille le jhakjhor duniya. It was this forceful nature of his poetry that made Pandey a popular name in modern Hindi literature since the 1970s. His collections such as Utho Mere Desh, Bhojpuri Ke Nau Geet, Swarg Se Bidaai, Jaagte Raho Sonewalon and Samay Ka Pahiya are considered literary classics.

"He wanted to bring a mass movement through his poems. He aimed to change the crumbling society and people. He pushed very hard but he was fragile. When he couldn't succeed in his efforts, he committed suicide," says Manav Kaul, a Mumbai-based playwright about Pandey, who died at the age of 44 in 1989. The poet is the inspiration behind Kaul's new play Gorakh, which will be staged by FTII students on August 29 and 30. "It is the first play to be based on Gorakh Pandey's life," says Kaul, adding that the Gorakh is loosely based on the short story Ram Sajivan Ki Prem Katha written by Uday Prakash on Pandey's life.

The play will add a touch of fiction to the narrative. "The character of Gorakh has three friends in the play, who witness everything that goes on in the poet's life, from his anger at the System to his falling in love to his suicide," says Dinker Sharma, who essays the character of Gorakh's confidante. The protagonist of the play is Gorakh's poetry and the whole performance can be seen as one complete poem that is free of the conventions of poetry writing. Kaul points out that though the play is based on Ram Sajivan Ki Prem Katha, he has used his own perception about the poet, derived by his works. While the book talks about Gorakh ending his life because of a woman, the play, says Kaul, presents the reason as his frustration with the System .

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