Geet Chaturvedi

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Geet Chaturvedi
Geet Chaturvedi-Orkut.jpg
Born (1977-11-27) 27 November 1977 (age 39)
Mumbai, India
Occupation Poet, short story author, journalist and translator
Nationality Indian
Notable awards Bharat Bhushan Award for Poetry, Krishna Pratap Award for Fiction

Geet Chaturvedi (born 27 November 1977, Mumbai, Maharashtra) is a Hindi poet, short story author and novelist. Often regarded as an avant-garde, he was awarded the Bharat Bhushan Agrawal Award for poetry in 2007 [1] and Krishna Pratap Award for Fiction in 2014.[2] He lives in Bhopal, India. He is active both as a fiction writer and critic. He has been named one of the 'Ten Best Writers' of India by esteemed English daily The Indian Express.[3] He is one of the most widely read contemporary Hindi poet.[4] His poems have been translated into seventeen languages world wide.

Geet Chaturvedi is the author of six books. His recent book is Nyoonatam Main, a collection of poems. He published three books in 2010, a book of poetry Aalaap mein girah, and two collections of stories Savant Anti Ki Ladkiyan and Pink Slip Daddy. His stories are quite longer in their length and he insists to call them novella, as he says in an interview, there is no synonym for longer short stories in Hindi and novella is the best word to name this form of writing.

His stories Savant Auntie ki Larkiyan, Sahib Hai Rangrez[5] and Gomootra are widely talked about. His novella Pink Slip Daddy (2009)[6] was considered as one of the best works of fiction in recent year's Hindi writing by noted literary periodical Kathadesh. English Translation of his novella 'Simsim', Translated by Anita Gopalan, has won PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grants, 2016.

Themes and style[edit]

Geet Chaturvedi is a Post-Modern writer and his major themes are love, memory, oblivion, alienation, homogenization. He employs multi-layered narratives into his fiction and looks at the cinema to get his creative fodders. He uses cinematic techniques of master filmmakers in his fiction. Krzysztof Kieslowski, for instance, tell him how a frame can swiftly carry a couple of overlapping or independent tales, the secondary characters emerging as primary ones in the next. While he can appreciate Finnish filmmaker Aki Kaurismaki's minimalism, his fiction weaves a complex structure of incidents and characters.[3]

Regarding his style, he says in an interview, "(After reading Borges and Shankaracharya) I find that a writer lives in the 25th hour of the watch. This is not independent of the 24 hours (of a day). It's (about) residing in the absent. When you do so, you participate in all other presences of the cosmos." [3][7]

Poetry[edit]

Shaped in his formative years by post-Emergency India and later by the paradigm shift of economic liberalization initiated in the ’90s, Chaturvedi’s poetry started out in a realist mode. Poetry International Web cites his translator Anita Gopalan that he began as “a fearless realistic political poet” but soon turned to a more Meta-realist poetics, as he began to integrate Indian myth, philosophy, a political sensibility, and his wide reading of world literature into poems that grew into complex textual organisms. The conflict between the self and the other (a recurrent preoccupation in his work) is, according to his translator, “not just a philosophical but a political statement . . . And an existential, political or philosophical concern is raised in such a way that it hardly ever seems programmatic.” Informed by his reading of world poetry, postmodern European literature and the Sanskrit-Pali traditions of Indian letters, Chaturvedi’s poetry is obviously intertextual. As Anita Gopalan points out, he often uses Sanskrit and Persian words in a single line, and draws on Bhojpuri, Punjabi, English and Bambaiya Hindi references in a single poem.[8]

The Amphibian[edit]

His long poem Ubhaychar (The amphibian), published in 2010, is also taken as one of his major achievements. Representing our collective myths, Ubhayachar is the unknown fear of our soul, an unidentified tear of eyes, a smile waiting to explode on lips, a love lost in childhood, a grandmother died long ago, a memory struggling against time, an honest expression perched against the crumbling universe. Memory is among the major themes of the text, writes a critic, Geet meditates as he writes and like a hammer on the nail, he repeatedly hits against our consciousness, jostling our memories. Each episode is a meditation on an aspect of life – love, death, forgetting, women, tradition, politics – and together they form a collage, a narrative whose beads, uncover the surface, are woven into a series. In some episodes this narrator is coherent, in other switches over to gibberish.[9]

Aalaap mein girah[edit]

Aalaap mein girah (Literal 'Nodule in Prelude') is the first volume of his poems. It received good reviews after its publication. Renowned Hindi poet Vishnu Khare wrote, Geet is among the few Hindi poets who watch the lumpenisation and dehumanisation of Indian society with a keen eye. With the poems about the state of the nation and the individual, he has emerged as an unfazed realistic poet.[10]

Chaturvedi was awarded the Bharat Bhushan Agrawal Award[1] in 2007.[11] His poetry has been translated into seventeen languages. He is known for his mesmerizing readings of his poems.[2]

Novella[edit]

Aunt Savant And Her Daughters[edit]

Savant Anti Ki Ladkiyan (literal 'Aunt Savant And Her Daughters'), his first book of fiction, has three novellas. These three stories taken together create atmosphere of a town–village settled within the city of Mumbai. There are women in all of these three stories having their love stories, their desires to be loved, their failures, the aspirations of the city, pressure of the town. The films have strong influence on their lives. They do not know even themselves whether they are in love or not, but they are obsessed by the idea of love, and it is so aggressive that they are ready to go to any extent.

Pink Slip Daddy[edit]

Pink Slip Daddy, published in 2010, is also a collection of three novellas. Taking a departure from the provincial environment depicted in his previous book, Geet focuses on the cosmopolitan structure of Mumbai. The title story of an ambitious corporate-bug Prafful Shashikant Dadhich, PSD in short form, which also stands for "Pink Slip Daddy", is a wonderful connotation of upper middle class Indian aspirations and the deceits he can perform in a socio-religious style. How cunning a man can be to fulfill his dreams, is what the story tells when it tells about him. A mocker in love, a joker in sex, a murderer in relationships, a runaway in emotions, a fugitive in desolation, cruel in his perceptions. An awesome portrayal of a character you can not love, but can not escape him, too.[12]

The novella has a few graphic portrayals of sex, unusual to Hindi literary scene.

The book has received Krishna Pratap Award for Fiction 2014. The jury for the award committee cited, "The stories associated with the corporate world, enthralling; and many people can find glimpses of their story in these stories. These stories are ample evidence of Geet Chaturvedi’s mastery as a storyteller. His taut poetic language has a certain exotic shine and sharp freshness, and an abundance of dreams and thoughts." [13]

Gomutra[edit]

The first novella 'Gomutra' (literal translation "The urine of Cow" which is considered very pious and somewhat divine in Hindu religion) presents a very harsh, tart and accurate critique of Open Market Economy. An unnamed protagonist, called I, a middle-class employee from the suburbs of Mumbai, buys a credit card after a constant persuasion from a bank executive. After using the card excessively, he finds that he is trapped in a vicious circle of debt. He fails to deposit his instalments and the bank officials are after him. Frightened, he tries to hide. He begins to avoid their calls. The bank sends goons to his house. He finds himself in the middle of nowhere and realises that it was a plot to kill him designed by the Finance Minister of India. He wonders what kind of enmity the Finance Minister could have against him. This literary Mystery unfolds to a surrealistic climax where the reader wonders whether it was a political murder of a common man by the minister or it was just a case of suicide.[12]

Written with a galore exercise of Intertextuality, the story connects with several poems of world literature including Adam Zagajewski's Fire, Bertolt Brecht and Vladimir Mayakovsky, apart from Ramdas, a masterpiece by great Hindi poet Raghuvir Sahay. At some instances, The protagonist-narrator of the novella addresses his wife with different names such as The Woman who cooks food, The woman who makes tea, The woman who is a darling and The woman who sleeps with him. This way of addressing the wife was considered by a few critics as derogatory to women.

Simsim[edit]

"Simsim" (Literal 'Sesame') is a beautiful love story which keeps resonating in the readers mind for long. It has a generational conflict between a young man and a decaying old man, in a melancholic background of a cast-off library. The young man is a metaphor for the young and dynamic nation what India seems to build everyday. Each chapter of this novella begins with the quotation of the work of some writer.

While describing the novella in his interview, he says, "The idea of 'Simsim' was to create a story around epigraphs. The basic plot was already in my mind. I had written a poem called 'Sindhu Library' in the late 90s. A deserted library where no one comes to rent a book, an old man as caretaker and the invisible land-mafia hand that forcefully wants to take over the land of the library to build a shopping mall there. Since I had already written all this in the poem, as a fiction writer now I wanted to look at the story in a new and post-modern way. Creating a novella around epigraphs was a thing that I found interesting and unprecedented as per my knowledge. The epigraph sets the theme and the mood of the chapter. I have always believed that while writing, a writer indulges himself in various kinds of conversations. Talking to his favorite writers/ books within his text is one among them. Many a time, it comes like a disguised or hidden influence. I did not want it that way but wanted it to be direct yet subtle, opening the possibilities of multi-layerism, using soft and delicate language yet suggesting the harshest of realities. 'Simsim', an elegy for the books, is a tribute to the writers I had used in epigraphs. It's my method of holding conversations with them and it's a cue to the notion that the text is universal, the words written in other parts of world in some other language and culture, in some other time and context can, at the same time, give tongue to the realities of my times, my language and my culture. It is the power of intertextuality. I could dream of a novella in diction foreign to me." [14]

The English translation of 'Simsim' has won his translator Anita Gopalan the prestigious PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grants, 2016. First published in 2008, this lyrical, award-winning novella was recognized for its groundbreaking contribution to contemporary Hindi fiction. Focused on four central characters and a decaying library sitting on prime Mumbai real estate, Simsim narrates the clash between two Indias—one old and traditional, and the other driven by consumerism and corporate greed.[15]

Praise[edit]

Many senior writers and literary journals consider him one of the best writers in India. Veteran critic Namvar Singh has named him as one of the best poets and novelists of the first decade of the 21st century.[16]

While poet-critic Ashok Vajpai, in an interview, says, "Geet Chaturvedi has shown a truly avant-garde spirit in his fiction and poetry. He brings his vast reading, unusual for his generation, to bear effortlessly on his writing, which is innovative in language and style. He has an evolving vision, which is not bogged down by cliches or clutches of current ideological stances." [3]

He has been named among "21 Top Indian Poets to Follow on Facebook".[17]

Translation[edit]

Among the poets he has translated into Hindi, Adam Zagajewski, Bei Dao, Dunya Mikhail, Iman Mersal, Eduardo Chirinos, Adunis, Mahmoud Darwish, Pablo Neruda, Federico Garcia Lorca are to name a few.

Works[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]