Author Interview | Shambu Ram ‘Pyaasa’

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Here’s a story of a pearl who has been mesmerizing readers with his tales, across boundaries.

They say one must always follow their passion, no matter how unreal they seem at first. It was merely the childhood curiosity of finding out how people get in a radio and speak, which got better of this teenager. One thing led to another and the dreams, which seemed stupid at once, came true eventually, but not before stretching horizons of both themselves as well the kid who dreamt them. Forty years later, the kid has grown up to be one of the most respected personalities of the state art scenario. This is the story of Shambu Ram ‘Pyaasa’, a Banker by profession and a celebrated writer, known in the artists’ fraternity for his unique skill of story-telling, through his books and on Radio and Television.

Born in a small village Kothe Saini, near Bishnah, Pyaasa always had his inclination towards the bettering of the society he lived in which can be gauged by the fact that as he become teenager, he, along with his friends formed a social organization and played instrumental in uplifting of the village at various levels. Doing the prompting work in village Ramleela was what ignited the fire of literature in Pyaasa, further accentuated by the radio show- “Cheeden Diyan Duhaiyaan” as he explains, “As we listened to the show every night at 10, the kid in me used to think that people actually get inside the radio set and speak. The fascination made me visit the Radio station and it was there that my life started to change.” There, Pyaasa met with Mohan Singh and Jagdish Singh, already established writers of Dogri literature who not only guided him but impressed with the little poetry Pyaasa could do, inspired him to be serious about writing more.

Meanwhile, Pyaasa was selected for a job in Jammu and Kashmir Bank. A couple of years later, the first play in the series of plays staged for the recognition of Dogri in the 8th schedule of the Indian Constitution was staged in Pyaasa’s village where he recited his first poem in front of the audience. Moved by the positive response, Pyaasa got serious for writing and enrolled for Master Degree in Dogri. However, there was another reason as he shared, “I was engaged at that time. My fiancée was a Master Degree Holder in Hindi as well as in Dogri while I was a simple graduate. Coupled with the motivation by fellow writers, I got admission in M.A. Dogri soon after. This helped me a lot in my writing also and I started taking out more time for writing.” His poems started publishing in many newspapers and magazines within and out of the state.

While the job and writing were going well, in the pursuit of his childhood dream, Pyaasa appeared for Radio audition and was selected too. He even remembers the first earning of his from Radio was a sum of rupees Forty Five in lieu of three poems he recited for YuvaVani. He has an interesting incident to share with us, “The day after my marriage was the recording of my first major play- Mudra Rakshas. I didn’t want to miss out on the play and hence went straight after the marriage to the studio with my newly-wed wife. She also agreed as it was supposed to be an hour long affair, as I told her. As if things were not bad enough already, the recording took 8 hours to complete. You will not believe but my wife swore that day that she will not visit Radio station or Studio ever; and she has maintained that till date. After Radio, Pyaasa had a fairly successful stint in Television also as he was part of many shows for Doordarshan, being a certified Compeering artist and Drama artist, something he has been doing even today, whenever he can.

While Pyaasa’s first poem ‘Vidhvaa’ was published in year 1986 in Shiraaza Dogri’s Yuva Pratibha Ank, his first short was ‘Maa’ which he wrote in 1997. Inspired from the true story of his colleague in Bank, the story was praised by one and all and was another turning point in Pyaasa’s life. The poem was even featured in Shiraaza’s golden jubilee edition also. Inspired from the motivation, Pyaasa wrote many short stories and compiled them in the form of the book. The collection of 13 such short stories, Pyaasa’s first book- ‘Trip Trip Athru’ came in 2002. True to the name, all the stories were able to touch the hearts of readers bringing forth the emotions in their most raw form.

The success of his first book was followed by another collection of 17 short stories by Pyaasa, titled ‘Tanda Rishte Diyan’, which came out in the year 2009. ‘Tanda Rishte Diyan’ was another critical hit and garnered Pyaasa appreciation from readers belonging to all walks of the life. Not only were the stories a rage hit among readers but were taken up by many academicians for research purposes. A student has also done her M.phil on Pyaasa’s work from the University of Jammu in the year 2014.

Around a month ago, Pyaasa released his third book, ‘Chete Di Bushkadi’ on the eve of Dogri Manyata Diwas, anniversary of the recognition of Dogri in the 8th schedule of the constitution of India. The latest book of Pyaasa contains 67 poems, Ghazals and stories touching various subjects. “The book is basically the collection of different memories of the persons, things and events I have had experienced in my life so far. Through the 67 pieces of writing, I have tried to share with readers a part of my own life. The book is very close to my heart and the readers have given me the love and affection in tons. I am really grateful to them for this,” he tells more about the book.

While Pyaasa is an equally good Radio and Television artist, he considers writing to be his first love. Among hundreds of poems, stories and Ghazals he has written so far, the most notable are Mittrochaari, Loaad, Samjota, Khirri Pal, Azadi Khatir, Ass Jhuth Nai Bolge, Tumba, Bapu, Naukri, Puttar Moh, Taashe Di Baazi, Kara Nimbal, Chachu, Basant and Chaploosi. He has also written few songs, two of which were also recorded and commercially released. These were sung by Sonali Dogra and Surinder Manhas.

So how does he manage so many things, we asked and Pyaasa replied, “It is very hard to manage so many things together at one time. May be one of the main reasons I have written only so far is this only. Also a lot depends upon the place of posting. Like right now, I am posted in Kathua and leave home at 8 in the morning, only to come back by 7 in the evening. Such circumstances leave very little space for me for creative writing. But still the passion for this is so strong that I manage somehow. I keep a small diary handy with me all the time and that also helps a fair bit. Once you are passionate enough, you will manage somehow. That is what I have been doing so far.”

We couldn’t help asking him of his pen name ‘Pyaasa’. He smiles before speaking, “I was a teenager and needed some money for some work. The work wouldn’t happen without the money and I had very less means of making money. In those days, a friend commented, “Pyaasa Paisa Laaye Kahan Se.” The incident left a deep impact on me. Years later, when I started writing, I adopted this name.”

Currently working on another book, Pyaasa is working hard, juggling between his job, family and his passion, without compromising on any of them. His thirst for the literature, it seems, won’t be quenched, not at least any time sooner. We look forward to the next set of tales Pyaasa brings to his readers.

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