Kids Corner

Above: detail from painting ("Raavi") by Abid Khan.


Across River Raavi
Raavi Paar

READINGS ON PUNJAB - Jaipur Literature Festival




Inspired by Sampooran Singh Gulzar's book of short stories - Ravi Paar - a session of readings on Punjab was held recently at the Jaipur Literature Festival. The participants included Sampooran Singh himself, Navdeep Singh Suri, Madan Gopal Singh, and Mohammed Hanif. The panel was moderated by Nirupama Dutt. 

However, before we get to the video of the readings, here's a brief review of Gulzar's Raavi Paar:



RAAVI PAAR AND OTHER STORIES, by Sampooran Singh Gulzar. HarperCollins, 2000. ISBN: 81-7223-275-6. 


Sampooran Singh - more popularly known by his pen-name, Gulzar - is not only a well-known poet and lyricist but also an excellent story teller.

Those who have seen his movies like Ijaazat or the more recent Maachis would agree that he is a master at story telling.

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.



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 leave 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.


To view a video of the Japiur readings inspired by this book, please CLICK HERE.


[Review, courtesy: Kar Spark. Edited for]

February 4, 2012

Conversation about this article

1: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), February 04, 2012, 12:20 PM.

The 'stories' are brilliant! ... 'The last wish of a Muslim man to be cremated after death leaves an entire qasbah in flames' and 'Bimal Roy plans a movie on a man's quest for Amrit - immortality - and dies of cancer after smoking his last cigarette', would make hilarious subjects ... and thought-provoking literature.

2: Roop Dhillon (Reigate, United Kingdom), February 05, 2012, 10:08 AM.

I would like to know where to get hold of the Punjabi version ... By the way, are we allowed to post in Gurmukhi? [EDITOR: At this stage, though we would like to cover Punjabi and Gurmukhi contributions as well, we can only concentrate on English, given our limited resources. There are other sites doing yeoman service in Punjabi. There are none that do what we do, in English. Hence our focus.]

3: Baldev Sibgh (Bradford, United Kingdom), February 06, 2012, 11:21 AM.

I agree that in English can reach out to a larger number of people, both within and outside the community.

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Raavi Paar"

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