THEME: 4/5
MELODY: 4.5/5

My musings

After a really long time, I had the opportunity to read a poetry collection. Only this time it wasn’t my usual dose of English poetry but shayaris in Urdu which speak about love and loss.

I must state here that my understanding of the beautiful language of Urdu isn’t perfect but I believe as I read more and more, it will sooner or later get somewhere close to where I intend it to be.

Now despite my inadequacies, as I sat down to read the book there was one thing that I could understand with absolute clarity – that the book I had in my hand was a true gem.

Read on to know what I think of Prashant V Shrivastava’s debut book, Jo Tum Kaho.

What to expect?

Expect a book that reminds you of those soulful and melodious Bollywood ghazals of the yesteryears. Expect a book that brings to you a language that remains unadulterated even in this era of fusions and Hinglish.

Expect a book that through its intense Urdu shayaris paints a very passionate and vivid picture of love. Finally, expect a book that you will definitely find worth reading.

Who can read?

Since the book is written in the Devanagari script and in a language that is predominantly Urdu, I would only recommend it to readers who are comfortable with both the language and the script.

The poems

The poems themselves are quite emotional and distinctly melodious. They have a kind of vintage vibe that makes them all the more alluring. The language too is rich and poetic.

With the subtlest of words, these shayaris have the ability to draw out the most intense of emotions from the deepest reaches of one’s heart.

The themes that are explored

The shayaris predominantly talk about love and about the various aspects of love. From falling in love to praising the physical beauty of the beloved; from being heartbroken to revisiting the memories of old love, from being melancholic about unrequited love to hoping that somehow time will heal all the wounds, from talking about loneliness and hopelessness to even some outlying themes like rape, rapists and alcoholism – the themes explored in Jo Tum Kaho are diverse and distinct.

Treatment of Women

Though all the poems talk about a single woman, I cannot help but feel good about the general treatment of women in this book.

The book is much unlike our ever-degrading Bollywood songs that can’t be bothered about learning the subtle nuances between love and lust; thus, objectifying women and their bodies often in the most obscene of ways.

Jo Tum Kaho is a book that treats a woman as she deserves to be treated. Even the references to the physical beauty of the lover are dignified and virtuous.

The woman in these shayaris is loved and venerated not scorned upon and objectified. And that is one of the most amazing things about the book.

Jo Tum Kaho should be read by every man especially every Bollywood songwriter just so that they know that a woman’s body can be appreciated without reducing her to a mere object of desire.

Is it an emotional read?

With beautiful words wrapped around some of the most intense emotions, the book inevitably is an emotional read.

While turning those rich worded pages, it becomes quite obvious that the author draws inspiration from his own experiences and emotions, often laying bare some of his most precious memories.

This is also quite evident when he dedicates some of his poems to a girl named Shipra; a girl whose identity the reader is told nothing about, thus creating an aura of mystery around her.

What could be better?

Though the book is really good in almost every aspect, the one thing that I found missing is the author’s note and introduction.

I am the kind of reader who always likes to read what the author intends to say to the reader about his work and the objective of the book.

But in the case of Jo Tum Kaho, this very integral part of any book was glaringly missing. It felt like undertaking a journey without knowing the destination; like starting a friendship without any introductions.

My favourite shayaris

Though all the shayaris in the collection are nothing short of brilliant, there are a few that permanently made a place in my heart.

Ghazal jab saanche mein dhal jati hai, us gali ke wo gulmohar and mera bhi ghar roshan hai are some of the shayaris that I would definitely like to visit again and again.

The entertainment quotient

The book is passionate, emotional and intense and this is something that inadvertently, makes it entertaining.

My final verdict

Go for it!

Pick it up

  • If you enjoy poetry.
  • If you love reading Urdu poems or Shayaris.
  • If you are looking for poems that are intense and emotional.
  • If you are looking for romantic poems.
  • If you are looking for a poetry collection that talks about pain and sufferings of love.
  • If you are looking for a five-star read.
  • If you are a hopeless romantic, who has at least once in his life, loved or has lost in love.

Skip it

Can’t wait to read it? Buy Jo Tum Kaho using the link below.