A Marathi Ghazal King who kept the flame of Ghazal alive perennially in Maharashtra
Suresh Shridhar Bhat is one of the most popular and prolific poets and Ghazal writer in post-independence Marathi literature. A very spontaneous and whimsical artist, whose life can be described by his own verse,
Ranguni Rangaat Sarya, Rang Majha Vegala
(Albeit mixing in all colours, my shade stands apart)
Suresh Bhat was born in Amravati to a very religious father who was by profession a doctor and a mother who was a very staunch left wing social activist and an atheist. Bhat followed his mother’s footsteps into becoming an atheist. He was very whimsical in nature and adopted a carefree lifestyle.
He started writing poems in 1956. He was heavily influenced by the works of poets like Keshavsut, B.R. Tambe and Kusumagraj. Bhat later realised that he had unknowingly written his poems during 1955-56 in the form of Ghazals. This proved to be a turning point of his career. He undertook a deep and extensive study of the form. He learned Urdu and Persian and carefully examined the works of great Ghazal poets like Ghalib, Iqbal, Jigar Murarabadi, Faiz Ahmmed Faiz, etc. He was always keen to understand and feel the crux of the Ghazal then explain and elaborate the same to other poets and audiences alike. Bhat also excellently rendered poems at concerts.
Through his life he experienced extreme highs and lows, from being neglected and cheated of leading a full childhood due of a partially handicapped leg, to enjoying high popularity later through his poems. In his lifetime his sincerity towards poetry remained unbroken. He also remained dedicated towards his heartland and mother tongue, and thus he composed his Ghazals in Marathi. His poem expresses his deep love for Marathi –
Laabhale aamhaas bhaagya bolto Marathi, jaahalo kharech dhanya ek to Marathi.
Dharma, pantha, jaat ek jaanto Marathi, evdhyaa jagaat maay maanato Marathi.
Aamuchyaa manaa manaat dangate Marathi, aamuchyaa uraauraat spandate Marathi,
Aamuchyaa nasaa nasaat naachate Marathi, aamuchyaa ragaa ragaat rangate Marathi,
Aamuchyaa pilaapilaat janamte Marathi, aamuchyaa lahangyaat raangate Marathi,
Aamuchyaa mulaa muleet khelate Marathi, aamuchyaa gharaa gharaat vaadhate Marathi,
Aamuchyaa kulaa kulaat naandate Marathi.
Yethalyaa fulaafulaat haasate Marathi, Yethalyaa dishaa dishaat daatate Marathi,
Yethalyaa nagaanagaat garjate Marathi, Yethalyaa daridarit hindate Marathi,
Yethalyaa vanaavanaat gunjate Marathi, Yethalyaa tarultaat saajate Marathi,
Yethalyaa kalikalit laajate Marathi, Yethalyaa nabhaamadhun varshate Marathi,
Yethalyaa pikaamadhun dolate Marathi, Yethalyaa nadyanmadhun vaahate Marathi,
Yethalyaa charaacharaat raahate Marathi.
We are lucky to speak the Marathi language, he who is born a Marathi is truly blessed.
Religion, sect, caste are all but one, Marathi, in this wide world Marathi is the only mother.
Marathi is in our every consciousness, Marathi throbs in our every breast,
Marathi dances in our every vein, Marathi is a part of our every sinew,
Marathi comes to life in our every child, Marathi is a part of our every childhood,
Marathi plays in our every boy and girl, Marathi is nurtured in our every household,
Marathi is nurtured in every family.
Marathi smiles in every flower here, Marathi appears in every direction,
Marathi thunders in every article, Marathi roams in every valley,
Marathi echoes in every forest, Marathi adorns every grove,
Marathi peaks shyly from every bud, Marathi pours down from the skies here,
Marathi nods in the fields here, Marathi flows in the rivers here,
Marathi lives in everything here.
On one hand you see him criticizing greed, hypocrisy, helplessness and lack of values in society using strong, sharp and sarcastic language in his poems whereas on the other his language becomes soft and delicate while writing on themes of love, affection or separation. This is a speciality of his writing. He was a poet who could write soft songs such as Malmali Tarunya Majhe (Velvety is my youth) but also write songs such as Ushakkal Hota Hota, KaalRatra Jhali (Night fell suddenly at daybreak) which use radiant and brave emotions. His compilations include Roopgandha (1961), Rang Majha Vegla (1974), Elgar (1983) and Va Jhanjavat (1994).
Suresh Bhat worked as a teacher for few years. He also worked as a journalist for newspapers like Loksatta, Mahratta and Tarun Bharat. He had also presided over the Vidarbha Literary Convention.
Suresh Bhat was highly instrumental in the serious acceptance and dedicated spread of the Ghazal form in Marathi poetry. Great singers like Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosale and Hridaynath Mangeshkar to took his work to the common man. It was due to him that Ghazal became famous in Maharashtra and it was under his guidance that several young poets started writing their own Ghazal.
After his death, the poet Sadananad Dabir who continues the heritage left behind by Bhat effectively describes Bhat’s greatness through his Ghazal thus –
Antyayaatraa jyaa dishene jaaylaa laagel re,
Dhulahi rastyatil tyaa gaaylaa lagel re,
To kavi hota na sadha ek zhanzhaavaat hotaa,
Shabda saambhaalun tyaalaa nyaaylaa laagel re.
(In the direction in which the funeral procession goes,
Even the dust on that road will start to sing,
That poet was no ordinary but was a storm,
Watch our words while taking him.)