Some of you may say
I am the author
Of these poems
Is not my own.
I have no— From "Some Of You May Say"
The cosmic one
Making me speak.
The poems of the 17th century poet-ascetic of the Bhakti movement in Maharashtra, Tukaram, found a longtime translator in Dilip Chitre (1938-2009), the noted bilingual poet. In the short film Says Tuka, by Henning Stegmueller, Chitre pays tribute to Tukaram by reading several of his English translations from the Marathi.
Filmed in 2004 in Dehu – Tukaram’s native village – Bhandara Hills and Pune, the visuals are soaked in the spirit of Tukaram. Chitre reads the poems from his book, Says Tuka: Selected Poetry of Tukaram standing close to Tukaram’s idol, seated in the temple grounds, like a true devotee of his poetry, as if speaking to both the ascetic and the viewer. The film itself is a tribute to Chitre and his work bringing hundreds of Tukaram’s poems to a new audience that reads in English.
“I came to Tukaram’s native village, Dehu, and to this hill, Bhandara, which is about 10 kilometres from Dehu, for the first time in 1988 after having translated 1,200 of Tukaram’s poems into English,” says Chitre in the film. As the music and lyrics blend with Chitre’s evocative voice reciting the powerful poetry, a meditative quality envelops the film over its 30-minute run.