Thursday, September 10, 2009


Shiv Kumar Batalvi (1936-1973) has been variously described as the Devdas and Keats of Punjabi poetry. His poetry explores the themes of love, loss and longing from a passionately personal vantage point. Shiv’s poetic voice is unique in its combination of metaphor and melancholy, imagery and intensity. During his brief lifetime he was the darling of Punjabi audiences. He was the youngest recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1967, for his epic verse Loona , considered a masterpiece in modern Punjabi literature, which also created the genre of the modern Punjabi kissa. After his death his iconic and legendary status has continued to grow. Many of his poems have been sung by Deedar Singh Pardesi, Jagjit Singh-Chitra Singh, and Surinder Kaur-Prakash Kaur. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's rendition of one of his poem "Maye ni Maye" is another popular number. Rabbi Shergill’s first album features, his poem, "Ishtihar". Punjabi folk singer, Hans Raj Hans also did a popular album, ‘Gham’, on the poetry of Shiv Kumar. In 2005, a compilation album was released, titled, Ek Kudi Jida Naa Mohabbat... 'Shiv Kumar Batalvi, with numbers sung by Mahendra Kapoor, Jagjit Singh and Asa Singh Mastana. The song “ Akhyian Wich Tu Vasda” in the film Lucky Oye is based on a poem by Shiv as is "Aaj din chariya tere rang warga" in the film Love Aaj Kal.

Watch a live interview with the poet, recorded by BBC London three years before his death:


  1. I did watch this interview. I thought he was so intense that he really could not open his eyes to look at the camera or the interviewer. Do you know this feeling? I could feel with it to some extent. I wonder if he was a recluse too? Can you please do biography from early childhood onwards?
    Thanks manjul!

  2. Hi Julia,

    I've posted a couple of links under the Resources section which give an idea of his brief and intensely lived life. The man was such a shooting star upon the firmament that it's difficult to distinguish the person from the persona. But by all accounts he was no recluse.