Deepti Naval worked in more than 70 films. Later, directed Thodasa Aasmaan, a TV serial about women, and produced a travel show called The Path Less Travelled. The Mad Tibetan, Stories from Then and Now is her first collection of short stories.
A face that remained forever aloof, a presence that somehow escaped untouched from the greasy clutches of mainstream Hindi cinema, Deepti Naval continues to marvel us by her writing, painting and other talents.
The Mad Tibetan
The Mad Tibetan is the maiden anthology by Deepti Naval, the critically acclaimed actor, painter, director and poet. Each story in this anthology carries a visual and emotional impact and vivacity of a film. While Thulli draws you deep into the sordid and bleak life of a prostitute in Kamathipura in Mumbai, The Piano Tuner gently tugs at the heart with music. Ruth Mayberry inspires with her never-say-die spirit, yet grapples with loneliness. The Morning After, The Mad Tibetan, Premonition, Sisters, Birds are all facets of life itself – each speaks in a voice that is resonant of hope, love and joy of another day.
Every story in the collection seems enamored by the aesthetic sensibilities of an artist who has lived many lives from many perspectives. Her ability to adapt to the perceptions of people afar makes Deepti Naval truly a wonderful storyteller. I have often wondered, ‘why artists who have achieved creative excellence are interested in telling stories of others?’
I guess this book is an answer to this question. At least I feel I have an answer even though I may not be able to express it here.
The stories of Deepti Naval’s world are firmly rooted in the reality. They all stem from the same breeding ground. Although they speak in different tongues and twists, the sentiments remain uniquely human. The landscapes and settings color our imagination and eyes. You crave for attention from the habitants of the universe. You crave cohabitation. And yes, Deepti doesn’t deny you the pleasure.
All through her acting career, Deepti symbolized the idea of a subtle, more artistic genre of filmmaking. Her sincerity even in her mere presence made for the relief of the heart. The songs that were filmed on her found echoes in the most barren of souls. Similarly, her stories provide us with a sense of calm that only exudes assurance, simplicity, and sensitivity.
These stories invite you to live with them, keep them in your hearts, or best, talk about them with whom you live.
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring
Deepti is a poet at heart. Her sensitivity rushes forward as soon as you open the book. Her eye for details turns the most ordinary into utterly extraordinary. It seems Deepti has magnifying lenses for her eyes. Everything through eyes is so immense and so fulfilling.
Thematically, the elements in her stories are both natural and human which in turn give the stories an eternal quality. Her fascination with the elements of weather makes a wonderful narrative as well as a thematic thread through the book. Delhi winters, Mumbai monsoons, Ladakh blizzards, all make for beautiful canvases for the stories. Deepti Naval’s fascination with air feels rather cathartic, be it mountain air or the cool October breeze in New York.
Deepti Naval’s stories are nuanced takes on human life on the planet earth. Though she is reaching to the moon with her creativity, we feel firmly stable under her storytelling prowess.
The book can be accessed here.