Book Review: Pluto by Gulzar – The mastery in brevity

If it bleeds, It is but a wound,
Otherwise every hurt is a poem…


Pluto is a collection of Short Poems, created out of small little moments and emotions like the planet itself. Gulzar sahib has crafted these little poems in such a serene manner that you end up expecting living more into the immensely beautiful world of these short poems. With each poem, you feel like seeing new short worlds through the poems.

Penned by Gulzar sahib and translated by Nirupama Dutt, the book doesn’t seem unfamiliar to Gulzar lovers. Each poem is translated in such a beautiful manner that you feel as if Gulzar sahib’s grave voice is landing on your ear drums. The certain feel and warmth known to only Gulzar sahib verses echo from the translated poems too. Though, translation misses nuances. But it’s treat to poetry lovers who lacks knowledge of Urdu. For example, there is a poem:

If I had not left her she would have left me,
Union and parting are unavoidable in love,
but there is also the magnet of the ego,
After all how many nights can one pass with your back towards the person you love.

मैं अगर छोड़ ना देता तो मुझे छोड़ दिया होता उसने,
इश्‍क में लाजमी में हिज्रे-ए-विसाल मगर
इक अना भी तो है चुभ जाती है पहलू बदलने में कभी
अब रात भर पीठ लगाकर भी तो सोया नहीं जाता
मैं अगर छोड़ ना देता तो मुझे छोड़ दिया होता उसने।

In the hindi verse, the word ana and hizre-a-visaal may not be a cup of tea for everyone. Thus, the translated version turns into a treat for people. See this poem:

I Looked at You…

I looked at you like everyone else did
But then it so transpired
On my way back
The memory of your face lit up my eyes.

Shaken by a gust of breeze, a flame fell.
Momentary Darkness – and then
A blaze which turned into a forest fire.

The first sight of love has been so beautifully crafted here. The first line keeps you unattended whereas second line immediately takes you to the sight of magical eyes you love. Third and fourth line shows the happiness that comes up on your face when you think of your lover. Let’s see one more poem:

Why are your hands…

Why are your hands so silent?
Neither do the reach out to m
when you sit at the edge of the bed,
Nor do they call out softly
from across the windowpane.
They don’t rise to rebuke me, either.

Forever still
I see them always, like a flame lit,
Invoking God.

What have the doctors told you?

In this poem, Gulzar sahib has talked about the parting stage of any relationship. When one feel being bereft due to cold relationships. First lines are about the unmoving gestures of loved person. He expects his love to show love, hate or even anger but frustrates because she is still like a flame.

The next thing, I truly like is the design of the book. On the cover, Gulzar Sahib’s name is in top font with italics touch that gives a poetic feel to the cover. The descending of fonts continues with book name ‘Pluto’ then translator’s name in smallest font. When you get inside, you find all the poems placed in the bottom left corner of each page with whole page left blank. It makes them look small. The thing that breaths life in these pages is Gulzar sahib sketches. Each poem is adorned with beautifully drawn sketches like the groom wears the flowery headdress (Sehra) on his wedding day. We have seen such experiment with a recent Hindi book “Ishq main Shahar Hona” by Journalist Ravish Kumar. In that book, sketches have been drawn for short stories like a lyricist writes song to a movie. It helps the reader in developing imagery when it comes to telling short shorts or poems.

50 Words Verdict:

If you love poetry then it is a must have book for you because the way Gulzar Sahib has captured beauty and ugliness of life no one else has done. He talks about first sight of love with same freshness & simplicity as he does to the demise of his lover.


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