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A Marathi paean to Urdu poetry

Prashant Rangnekar

Wearing various hats simultaneously is nothing new for the Thane Municipal Corporation's (TMC) public relations officer Sandeep Malvi. At 36, he has also been a journalist for 12 years and has worked with the anti-HIV/AIDS movement at the Maharashtra State AIDS Control society (MSACS). But his favourite hobby is also his worst-kept secret—Malvi has honed a fine talent, of writing ghazals in Marathi.

Since ghazals are primarily a form of Urdu literature, there are few who have dabbled this form of poetry in any other language even after Marathi poet Madhav Julian started writing ghazals , followed by famous ghazal writer Suresh Bhat, who also wrote in Marathi. But Malvi once had the opportunity to tour with ghazal singer Bhimrao Panchal, a trip that turned a small hobby into a serious passion.

“I believe a poet's mind keeps thinking all the time, whatever he does,” says Malvi, when asked when a busy civic official finds the time for couplets. “Whenever any line comes to my mind, I quickly put it down on a piece of paper. Still, sometimes just one ghazal may take months to finish. It all depends on what comes to my mind.” A collection of Malvi’s ghazals has already been published by the Ghazal Sagar Pratisthan, with a second edition being released by Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh earlier this year.

His versatile work experience reflects in his poetry too, besides having assisted his steady climb in his career. Starting as a journalist in Kolhapur, the always-calm Salvi came to Mumbai in 1997 to join a magazine before switching to MSACS as a project co-ordinator. “My stint as a journalist and my work with AIDS patients brought me closer to some harsh realities of life,” he says. That’s why, his poetry dwells on various emotions, but the focus is often on social issues.

“Earlier, I would pen verse of any kind, without really keeping in mind any particular form. But it was ghazal singer Bhimrao Panchal who, having read some of my poetry, advised me to try developing myself as ghazal writer,” he says. “One has to take proper care while writing ghazals, since the rhyming pattern must match the form.” His ghazals “directly touch the chords of the heart”, in the words of Panchal. “Even while writing on various issues ranging from life to social problems, he maintains the rhyme of ghazals which is of utmost importance,” adds Panchal, who has sung several of Malvi's ghazals at big concerts.

Malvi is now also writing a novel and a book on eunuchs, a project he has toured the country for, trying to gather detailed aspects of life in India for the transgender community. For Malvi, until that project is complete, it’s another bee in his buzzing bonnet.

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