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When words flow...

Tilak Raj Seth, 72-year-old music enthusiast, has 5,000 ghazals to his credit



Inspired by the film Umrao Jaan, Tilak Raj Seth began to write ghazals

FOR A generation that grew up on a veritable diet of Hindi and Urdu poetry, of course what with the times replete with melodies by Jagjit Singh and Pankaj Udhas, it is almost impossible not to be passionate about them. Quite naturally, when one chanced upon Tilak Raj Seth's album of ghazals, Tassavvuraat, one felt excited.

"It is a `deewangee' (madness)," says Mr. Tilak Raj Seth, when you ask him how he managed the feat at his age. "I don't know what to call it, but I sit at my desk and the words begin to flow. I have had no teacher and no formal training." Tilak Raj Seth, who writes with the pen name Talab, writes at least one a ghazal a day. It began 21 years ago, inspired by the film Umrao Jaan. Having worked closely with the film industry and the legendary filmmaker Raj Kapoor, for whose films he was the Publicity Designer, he looked up to the famous poet, Sahir Ludhianvi, and more recently Javed Akhtar.

Having followed his passion with a quest for creative gratification, Talab today has to his credit, more than 5000 ghazals, some of which find their way into the recently released album called Tassavvuraat (Imagination).

"My experiences in life are my inspiration, be it the influence of Sufism, the Hindi film industry or one's day-to-day existence," says the poet. Hence, one finds the ghazals in Tassavvuraat covering a variety of subjects, like life, spiritualism, romance, social wrongs, and various other aspects of

human life. Some of them, which are deeper in meaning, talk of the quest of the soul, while others throw light on the mundane side of life (read societal wrongs and so on.) The hour-long album comprises of 20 ghazals, each of which is six to seven stanzas/ couplets. All the recitations are in the voice of Talab, with soft instrumental music playing in the background. There is an initial commentary penned by Muneer Ahmed Jami and delivered by Zafer Mohiuddin and Shaista Yousuf.

Having waited a number of years before he could release this album, Talab has no regrets that he couldn't take it to the public earlier. However, he does wish that the youth of the nation would look up to such poetry.

Later this year, Talab will also be releasing Hindi and Urdu books of the ghazals featured in this album. The genial old man, who is also a painter, playwright, singer, restaurateur, has put his artistic skills to their best use yet, by working on 50 paintings, which he will soon exhibit at Chitrakala Parishat. A first of sorts, these paintings are depictions of the ghazals in Tassavvuraat, with each painting depicting one ghazal. Adding yet another feather to his cap, he has also consented to act in the forthcoming television serial, by the makers of Malgudi Days.

I wonder in awe, how he really does it and what is it that makes this grandfatherly old man feel like he's 27, when he's actually 72! In answer, he recites his favourite couplet from his album, "Heere bahut hain, koi paththar talash kar; badlega jis se ter mukkaddar talash kar!" (Diamonds there are many, seek a stone instead; seek that which will change your destiny!)

Those who wish to own a copy of Tassavvuraat, call 25270037.

TINA GARG

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