A Rain of Sorrow, A Rain of Gloom

A Rain of Sorrow, A Rain of Gloom

Poet, novelist, essayist, and translator Geet Chaturvedi (b. 1977) is a major figure in contemporary Hindi literature. He has published two sets of novellas and three volumes of poetry that turn a wry eye over the changes wrought in urban India by the spread of free markets. In 2019, a selection of his poems, translated into English by Anita Gopalan, appeared under the title  The Memory of Now. His two essay collections cast a wide net, discussing poetry, Hindustani classical music, visual art, and not least, world cinema.

A thread of cinephilia runs through Chaturvedi’s work. In 2018, he translated into Hindi Many Questions to Myself, excerpts from the diary of director Amit Dutta. He has written several ekphrastic poems, reflecting on films by Tran Anh Hung, Wong Kar Wai, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, and Hou Hsiao-hsien, among others. In “For the Films of Yasujro Ozu,” he writes:

When secret lovers die, where do they go?
They stand and shine as lightbulbs
On the poles on that part of the street where your window opens
For many, many days, one does not even come to know
Of their death

[translation by Anita Gopalan]

This essay from 2007 is a fantasia on one of the most-speculated-upon events in Hindi film history: the death of Guru Dutt, which is alleged to have been a suicide—he was found on the morning of October 10, 1964, alone in a rented apartment in Bombay, reportedly with alcohol and sleeping pills. Among the film personalities referred to are Dutt’s wife, the playback singer Geeta Dutt; his muse and favored lead actress Waheeda Rehman; the actor-filmmakers Dev Anand and Raj Kapoor; and Dutt’s frequent cowriter Abrar Alvi. —Ratik Asokan

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