Shiv Kumar Batalvi’s images cast charm, evoke nostalgia at exhibition in Chandigarh | punjab | Hindustan Times
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Shiv Kumar Batalvi’s images cast charm, evoke nostalgia at exhibition in Chandigarh

Some pictures showed Batalvi with poets like Sahir Ludhianvi, Jan Nisar Akhtar and Krishan Adeeb. Some group photographs on display captured him with litterateurs MS Randhawa and Vishwanath Tiwari, among others.

punjab Updated: Aug 05, 2017 19:22 IST
Nirupama Dutt
Rare pictures of Shiv Kumar Batalvi on display at an exhibition in Chandigarh.
Rare pictures of Shiv Kumar Batalvi on display at an exhibition in Chandigarh.

It was like a return to the times when a poet was an acknowledged hero of society and poetry balm for the soul. The mood at the opening of the exhibition of photographs of the much-loved Punjabi poet Shiv Kumar Batalvi (1936-1973) at the Punjab Kala Bhawan on Friday evening transported one to the good old days.

The walls of the gallery were adorned by photographs of the life and times of the poet, his poetry in his own melodious voice was playing in the backdrop and his friends of the 1960s were there to recall treasured memories of the legend.

The verse playing in the poet’s voice was ‘Ki puchhde ho haal faqiran da...’ and painter Malkit Singh, who had a close association with Batalvi, recounted: “One evening Batalvi was to be the star poet at a mushaira in the Tagore Theatre. He already had one too many but somehow satirist Bhushan Dhyanpuri and I put him in rickshaw and escorted him there, sitting on either side. We were nervous how he would perform but he sang this very poem and wowed the listeners”.

Shiv Kumar Batalvi with daughter Pooja.

Well-known Punjabi fiction writer Mohan Bhandari, who is rarely seen at public events because of age and ailments, enjoyed flitting from one frame to another bringing back treasured memories.

Some pictures showed Batalvi with poets like Sahir Ludhianvi, Jan Nisar Akhtar and Krishan Adeeb. Some group photographs on display captured him with litterateurs MS Randhawa and Vishwanath Tiwari, among others.

Talking of the enduring appeal of Batalvi’s poetry and persona, Bhandari who was often ‘humpyala’ (drinking partner) of Batalvi, said: “His poetry was inspired by folk songs and went straight to the heart. Besides, he was handsome as they come, had a flamboyant lifestyle and melody in his throat.”

The exhibition also showcases copies of pages from his manuscripts in his own writing, book covers, books and two rare photographs of his ancestral home in Bara Pind Lohtia, Shakargarh Tehsil, Sialkot (now in Pakistan), from where his moved to Batala when he was 11. These were specially clicked by Zahid from across the border.

Diwan Manna, who has collected these photographs from the poet’s friends and nephew, digitally restored and enhanced them for this charming show, deserves kudos.

The exhibition will remain open till August 14, between 11 am and 7 pm. It is a must-see for young poets and poetry lovers who wish to know more about the legendary poet.