Gala Batalvi affair: A befitting tribute to man of Punjabi tragic poetrypunjab Updated: May 13, 2017 10:28 IST
Shiv Kumar Batalvi
Verses of the much-loved Punjabi poet Shiv Kumar Batalvi (23 July, 1936 – 7 May, 1973) suggest that he lamented the fact that his city, whose name he carried with him as his nomenclature, did not return the recognition it owed to his poetry.
However, an effort is being made to prove this wrong today, with a gala multi-art commemoration of the poet at the Shiv Kumar Batalvi Auditorium, the foundation stone of which was laid way back in 1981. It took over three decades to be completed and then became a subject of political tussle and, ironically, it was inaugurated thrice by two Akali leaders in three hours last year making a comedy of the memory of the poet, who is best known for his tragic poetry.
But, this time the chairperson of the Punjab Arts Council Satinder Satti is determined to make a success of this tribute to her favourite poet, who inspired her to pen verses in her schooldays. Incidentally, she also belongs to Batala, so there is a greater shared bond with the Batalvi the poet, who was the youngest to win the national Sahitya Akademi award for his verse play ‘Loona’ in 1967. “This tribute to Batalvi will become an annual affair as we did it a few days after his death anniversary because local groups were doing small commemorative functions and we did not wish to disturb them. But, from the next year, we will do it again on the death anniversary,” says Satti, who has been camping in Batala for the past few days organising the event and gathering audiences from schools, colleges and other professional institutes.
The event includes an exhibition of Batalvi’s photographs mounted by Diwan Manna, chairperson of the Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi, and a poster painting workshop on his poems, staging of ‘Loona’ by well known theatre director Kewal Dhaliwal, also chairperson of the Punjab Sangeet Natak Akademi. Incidentally, this production of ‘Loona’ was first staged by him in 1992 and has since run into 200 shows. The day-long tribute also includes a kavi-darbar, but this has miffed poets of the region. Salakhan Sarhadi, a well known poet, says , “I appreciate the effort, but I feel that many eminent poets of the region have been ignored. What to talk of participation, they have not even been invited as audience.” Batala-based ebullient writer Simrat Sumera is more forthright in her criticism. “It is going to be a usual ‘sarkari’ affair and even mentors and friends of Batalvi-like Barkat Ram Jumman and Sharan Qadian have been ignored,” she says.
Others feel an effort should have been made to include Batalvi’s family in the event. Satti, however, clarified that they had made an effort, but the family living abroad declined the invitation, but a video message has been sent by them.