Deepti Naval: Amrita Pritam said to me “Tu Likhya Kar’

By Neena Badhwar

Actress Deepti Naval was lately seen in a small role in the movie ”˜Lion’, and is well known for her 80s films ”˜Ankahi’, ”˜Katha’, ”˜Chashme Buddoor’, ”˜Kamla’ and many such, the poetic evening in Sydney was a revelation of a new side to this art movies actress of the 80s.  Organised by Manju Mittal of SCREAN Australia, Deepti was the talk of Facebook soon as she landed.

Sydney fans who went to see her show wanted her to talk about her films but it was an evening devoted to her poetry. Deepti is also a painter and Sydney Artist Anjanappa Murthy did a sand painting as he asked Deepti to sprinkle sand on the canvass when her beautiful face suddenly appeared.

And this is how the evening was that unfolded a different side of the actress, audience felt totally charmed by her and  her ”˜Chamko’ smile, she gave every now and then, little anecdotes she related and answered questions that came from the eager crowd. Program started with Nitin Madan introducing Deepti on stage and she was interviewed by Kumud Merani.

Donning an off white silk sari and jhumkas to match Deepti looked stunning as she related a story when she was 11 of her meeting with the great Balraj Sahni. When a gentleman from the crowd calculated her age that her year of birth would have been 1954, corrected Deepti proudly, “No, sorry I am born in the year 1952. At least give me the credit I deserve for my real age.” She smiled and went on.

She read poems from her book ”˜Lamha Lamha’ in Hindi by describing the time and place where the idea for the poem originated and why. She says her Urduised Hindi was due to the impact of listening to ”˜Radio Lahore’ she being born in Amritsar which is close to the Pakistan border. She talked of people who inspired her ”“ Faiz, Ghalib and Sahir Ludhianawi. Once she met Amrita Pritam in Delhi who when she listened to Deepti’s poems said, “Tu Likhya Kar.” And that’s how her first poetry book came into being. Others followed ”“ ”˜Black Wind’, ”˜River and I’ and more. Deepti is also a great fan of Gulzar who she said also inspired her in the contemporary world.

She said both her dad and mum were teachers and pretty late in life, at age 48 her dad moved to New York on a teaching assignment. So to keep them happy she did Masters in Fine Arts at New York university but her heart was set on acting from a young age of 7. “Parents like any other protested as they wanted me to pursue art career by studying further in France. But I was adamant,” she said and then read the poem how she felt at that time, unable to convince them, as she had a role offered to her in India which she just did not want to let go. “They relented finally and I came to Mumbai.” She read some poems in English from her book ”˜Black Wind’ and even a short story of her meeting Balraj Sahni.

Deepti said whenever she got a break from films she trekked in the Himalayas her family being Dogri from Himachal Pradesh, “A backpack and there I was trekking alone or with friends. Those were the safe days unlike now. Girls are not safe in the current times.”

Earlier on July 11, Deepti dazzled everyone in Black silk sari at a dinner at Manjit’s at Darling Harbour given in her honour. And here we were all on the 12th of July listening to her Poetry, Deepti reading poems to a discerning audience. ”˜Kai martaba dekha hai use apne khwab me maine, raat ke pehlu se guzra karte hain jab khamoshiyon ke qaafiley, waadi ke kohre main dekha her dafa, dhundhla sa ikk chehra, Ashna”¦.koi chala aata hai meri jaanib, lekin mujh takk pahunchta nahi kabhi,’The lines end with ”˜Ikk din jab kareeb se dekhoongi, pehchaan loongi.’ It was an intimate pehchan with Deepti for the Sydney fans.

People wanted more but the interval stopped the magic moments with her. Yet some keen ones ran to the back of the stage to capture Deepti from up close, for Facebook notoriety. Soon the Desire Band started to sing songs from Deepti’s films as she settled nicely in the front row with some keen fans sitting beside her enjoying the limelight and being in her company reliving the music of her films. ”˜Ye tera ghar ye mera ghar’ and ”˜Tumko dekha tau ye khayal aaya’ by Heena Sachdeva and Sanket Tiwari was sung really well. The audience at the end was still eager to hear her read more as she surprised all by singing Amrita Pritam’s ”˜Main Aankhan Warish Shu Nu, tu kabran wichon bol”¦’ it was sung beautifully and came straight from the heart. Sydney got a classy literary evening with Deepti Naval who charmed them all the way. Pioneer room at Castle hill was newly furbished and to my surprise the sound system was excellent, thanks to Abdul and Mehdi Sajwani. Being a stickler with sound system where I have been privy to horrible sounds in some shows with people having paid close to $100 tickets and still standing outside because they cannot hear the artist properly, one could hear Deepti clearly right upto the back. There was seating fiasco as people sat where ever they liked since the front rows were not numbered. I suggest that the audience on their part should adhere to the ticket numbers which were all issued in advance by the organiser. Some did whereas few even sat in the front row where they were not supposed to. Thus causing confusion for the owners of right ticket holders.

Kudos to organiser Manju Mittal, a wonderful evening indeed!

Pics courtesy: Balzinder Balz and M4Ever Photography

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