Who is Prakash Gowda?
I am a Vadodara-based Copywriter, Author, Poet, and Short Film-maker backed by experience of thirteen years in creative writing. As a person, I am more of an introvert, who’s fond of reading books, especially biographies of film personalities and watching films.
My short films have been screened at short film festivals in Vadodara and Mumbai in presence of personalities like Anurag Kashyap, R. Balki, Rajeev Masand, and Nandita Das. I had won first prize in the ‘I Love Paani’ short film contest organised and judged by director Shekhar Kapur and was invited to meet him up at Yashraj Studio, Mumbai.
My first book, ‘Baker’s Dozen’ was launched in 2012 by eminent Author, Dramatist, Academician Rani Dharker at Landmark Vadodara and is available at leading bookstores across India, as well as online shopping portals. My next book, Ghalib Unplugged – a prose-poetic chronicle was recently launched at Vadodara.
Do you balance writing with another day job?
A decade ago, I stumbled upon an interview of Gulzar saab, where he spoke about importance of discipline in writing. The interview inspired me to emulate his dedication towards writing something every day. The same kind of discipline in writing resonated in a Prasoon Joshi interview, where he stated that he wrote a poem almost every day. Hence, I made it a point to write something, be it a blog post, a movie review, poem, short story or anything every night before going to sleep. This has been a practice since a decade, which helps me find balance in writing for an advertising agency and writing for myself.
About the book
Ghalib Unplugged is basically a poetry collection with a story woven around them, giving it a contemporary touch and relevance to the times we’re living in. It is about a character who insists upon calling himself ‘Ghalib’ and narrates the life of his story to his ‘audience’ at Ghalib Unplugged.
“Smiles ki kya bhaasha hoti hai? What’s the language of nazar? In a nation that uses Hindi, Urdu and English interchangeably, how can I write poetry in one particular language? What are the words in which I can express my angst, my love, my grief…and will what I write resonate with the people I write it for?”
As a modern day, guitar-strumming poet relives the life as his namesake – the legendary Mirza Ghalib, he ponders over questions about life, his nation, its people, its religions and relevance of poets in society – questions that have remained unanswered ever since.
‘Ghalib’ Unplugged is a prose-poetic chronicle of one such journey in the search for answers.
What made you write this book?
As a kid, writing poetry was like writing those ‘secret diaries’ coded in rhymes and punctuated with rhythm, in either ‘Harivanshrai Hindi’ or ‘Wordsworth English’. With passage of time, the rhyme-route of Javed Akhtar taught the importance of phonates, Mirza Ghalib’s ‘Diwan-E-Ghalib’ lent the elusive ‘depth’, Prasoon Joshi’s lyrics lent a whole new perspective, while Piyush Mishra’s angst in the line, ‘Jis kavi ki kalpana mein zindagi ho prem-geet, us kavi ko aaj tum nakaar do’ in the ‘Aarambh’ song of the movie, Gulaal by Anurag Kashyap became the ultimate benchmark, and blank verses of Gulzar became the new ‘guitar’.
While the poetry, ‘Stolen glances’ was an ‘instant inspiration’ on spotting a girl meditating in a park, ‘Aasmaan’ a proposal song, ‘S – the passion’ an adolescent’s curiosity about birds and the bees, the ‘Sip of life’ was a milestone that changed the course my career from a Barista to a Copywriter, ‘We are there’ was a song for Cognito India and my first ‘break’ as lyricist and followed by ‘Mera kya hoga kal?’, the poem, ‘Paani’ won me the Best Short Film Award at a national-level short film contest judged by Shekhar Kapoor. Poetry, to me, is like breathing.
But when it came to compiling them as a poetry collection, I developed cold feet and was skeptical about sharing them. ‘Who buys poetry collection in today’s times? You aren’t a Javed Akhtar or Gulzar!’ Furthermore, they weren’t in one particular language, and certainly not something that would make literature connoisseurs jump off their chairs and pronounce them as the next best thing in English, Hindi or Urdu literature. I am neither English poet, Hindi Kavi nor Urdu Shaayar.
Just like a mother-to-be cannot decide her child’s gender, this poet cannot decide his poem’s language. Poems have this tendency of taking their own course, choosing their language, and donning their favourite suits of adjectives, gowns of similes, perfumes of metaphors, ties of political correctness, skirts of sarcasm, matching shoes of limericks, and often times, garish overcoats of hyperbole. Mine too, have their style.
What do you think readers will love about this book?
The unique thing, if you ask me, about this book would certainly be the engaging narration that shifts its course from being poetry to prose, from one language to the other. The idea is to bring the youth closer to poetry, which is precisely what the readers might appreciate. In hindsight, the book has appeal for people from every age group.
If you have a body of work, tell us a little more about it.
My first book, ‘Baker’s Dozen’ was a short story collection launched in 2012. The journey of Baker’s Dozen finds its roots in 2002 when I used to work at Barista, Vadodara. There was a picture of a middle-aged man on the wall of Barista and while making the ‘Caapuchinos’, a few verses started haunting my mind. I just couldn’t resist the temptation of scribbling them on endless paper napkins and stashing them inside my pocket while operating the espresso machine.
The next day, I compiled all those verses into a poem called, ‘A sip of life’ and showed it to the Store Manager of Barista. He liked it so much that he got it framed and gave it the pride of place right next to the picture it was inspired from, along with my name.
A journalist happened to read it and she offered me to write an article for their upcoming feature on Uttarayan. I was taken aback by the offer and said that I wrote poems and short stories as hobby and writing articles wasn’t my cup of tea or rather coffee. Nevertheless, I gave it a shot and this eventually opened up new avenues of foraying into professional writing.
The short stories in Baker’s Dozen had been written during my stint at Barista and other advertising agencies I worked for during my formative years. They revolved around varied genres, thriller, romance, humour and so forth and were very well-received by the readers. Ghalib Unplugged, apart from poems, also has an interesting story and is inspired by my own life, which I hope readers will enjoy.
Why do you write?
I have these millions of ideas and stories inside my head and writing is the only seeming way out to set them free. These ideas and stories take shape of either poems, short films, short stories or a movie review. I write to express myself. Writers are mortals, but the writing is immortal. I yearn to live for an eternity through my writings.
Is there a writing schedule you work with & how do you deal with Writer’s block?
Like I said, I have this discipline of writing every night before retiring to the bed. This discipline keeps me grounded and at bay with writing block. I do have them too, and whenever stuck somewhere, I read books or watch a film.
Your advice to aspiring authors?
I am often confronted by youngsters, who ask me: How to get published? I ask them, “Have you completed your book that you wish to get published?” And they’re like, “I haven’t written it…in fact, not even begun writing a single word…” So there’s where lies the problem. We want outcomes first, and work on it later.
If you aspire to be an author, then write the book first. Every creation is like water, which eventually finds its way.
If you don’t wish to go through the grind of getting a book published by top publishers, begin with self-publishing, put it up online and e-book version, go out and promote it to the best of your abilities.
But first, write that book you’ve always wanted to write. In a digital age of ours, becoming a published author isn’t a big deal – being widely read is the real challenge. Having said that, every form of art finds its audience. Trust me, you’ll find yours too.
Just one word: Read. Read as much as you can, no matter if you aspire to write or not. Reading makes one’s imagination fertile. Given a choice, read a book first and watch the movie adaptation later. Once you do that, you’ll get what I mean to say.
Prakash’s favourite books
Ayn Rand’s ‘The Fountainhead’ is easily one of the best books I have ever read. The book changed my entire perception of life and I was fortunate enough to read it at an early age. Among other writers, my inspiration has always been Gulzar saab, Javed Akhtar, Sahir Ludhianvi, and Mirza Ghalib.
Author: Prakash Gowda
Publisher: Become Shakespare
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