THEME: 4/5 LANGUAGE: 4/5 SHER AND SHAYARIS: 4/5 ENTERTAINMENT: 4/5
“उम्मीद की ज़मीन पे बसा
वादों का एक बसेरा था
वहीँ कोने में छोटा सा बना
कागज़ का महल मेरा था”
- Ravi Kumar, Kaagaz Ke Mahal
This year has seen me reading a lot of poetry, both in English and Hindi. It was only last month that I read this amazing shayari collection called Jo Tum Kaho by Prashant V Srivastava and now I have got my hands on yet another beautiful book of Urdu shayaris.
Ravi Kumar’s Kaagaz Ke Mahal is a book that speaks to your heart. With its soulful shayaris (शायरी) and witty shers (शेर), the book manages to impress the reader in no time. Read on to know more about my thoughts on the book and about my experience of reading it.
What to expect?
Expect a book that has a beautiful collection of Urdu shayaris. Expect a book that has two versions of the same shayari – one printed in the Devanagari script and the other in the Roman one. This is done to appeal to the taste of millennials who are comfortable reading Hindi typed in the English script.
Expect a book that is a soulful experience in its own right. And finally, expect a book that talks about love and all the emotions that come with it.
Who can read?
Anyone who has a working knowledge of Urdu or Hindi can easily read the book.
The language is poetic and melodious and the shayaris manage to carry many meanings all at once. As the author states at the beginning of the book, the shayaris might appeal to individual readers differently because they carry different meanings for different people at different stages of life.
I also appreciate the way the shayaris have been named intelligently. Named after abstract themes like feelings, objects, and emotions – each one of them is quite special in its own way.
The themes that are explored
The shayaris in Kaagaz Ke Mahal explore various themes. They often oscillate between contrasting themes of love and betrayal, hope and dismay, regret and gratitude. While reading them, it is pretty obvious that they are penned by channeling emotions straight from the heart. Such beautiful poetry can only be written by somebody who has loved and/or has lost in love.
The memories of first love, that overpowering bliss and the heady feeling of anticipation – all of it comes alive in these shayaris. Even while talking about pain, the shayaris manage to rekindle those memories with a rose-tinted hue.
What I particularly liked?
I love how the author addresses the readers’ expectations at the beginning of the book. In very precise and clear words, he lays out the nitty-gritties of the book. He talks to us about what to expect and how to read the book while also specifying his objective of writing it, which is to bridge the ever-increasing gap between a man and a machine.
In tune with what the reader needs
Very few authors think this way and I am glad that Ravi Kumar is one of them. The book is written keeping in mind the needs of the reader. Meaning of difficult Urdu words have been mentioned in footnotes and I can’t help but comment that this small gesture surely helps lazy readers like me to fully comprehend the meaning of these rich shayaris.
What makes it different?
Kaagaz Ke Mahal is like the journey of life. It touches on a lot of aspects of life and would prove to be a wonderful read for someone who is keen to look back in time and reminisce about the past. It is a kind of bittersweet pill that is hard to resist.
Another thing that sets this book apart from other shayari collections is the dual script text. Each shayari is written in two scripts – Devanagari and Roman – to cater to a larger set of readers. Also, all the shayaris are pretty uniform in their structure, so that at a larger level, they merge together to form a cohesive whole.
The physical aspects
Physical aspects of the book have also been taken good care of. The cover looks appealing and the blurb is exciting too. The layout of the book including finer details like page formatting, font style, font size, and paragraph spacing have been given adequate attention thus overall making it a book worth possessing.
Kissa is one shayari that I absolutely loved reading. With carefully chosen words it talks about how love comes to you, how it doesn’t knock on your door to announce its arrival but instead ends up knocking you.
Other shayaris that left a strong impact on me are Kahani and Raakh. A thought that stayed with me all throughout the book was that these shayaris would make for excellent ghazals and songs; the words and emotions being so relatable that I will be surprised if they are not turned into Bollywood songs sooner or later.
Is the book entertaining?
The book is entertaining in the way all shayaris are meant to be and the best way to experience this is to take it slow. Read the book on a cozy afternoon or a rainy night, with a cup of tea or with a jar of cookies by your side. Don’t just read but immerse yourself in the shayaris and only then you will truly connect with those beautiful words bursting with meaning.
In the end
In the end, Kaagaz Ke Mahal is a book that explores abstract themes and feelings while indulging our emotional side. It is a book that ought to be celebrated and not just because it is well written, but also because it enables one to celebrate love and also pain; to find beauty in both and revel in the warmth of old memories.
My Final Verdict
Go for it!
Pick it up
- If you enjoy poetry.
- If you particularly like poetry written in Urdu or Hindi.
- If you like poems that are intense and emotional.
- If you are looking for romantic shayaris.
- If you are looking to indulge the hopeless romantic in you who has loved and maybe also lost in love.
- If you are not looking for a book that comes with its own dose of melancholy.
- If you are looking for something on the lighter side.
- If you don’t like poetry or romantic reads.
- Can’t wait to read it? Buy Kaagaz Ke Mahal using the link below.