Bengaluru: It was wrong to term non-Hindi languages as regional and Tamil, Gujarati, Marathi, Bengali and others were also national languages, noted poet and lyricist Gulzar today said.

"It is wrong to term non-Hindi languages as regional. They are major languages of the country. Tamil is a classical language, and also a major language. And so are Gujarati, Marathi, Bengali and others," he told PTI.

He was speaking on the sidelines of Bengaluru Poetry Festival 2017, organised by 'Atta Galatta', a bookstore here. The Padma Bhushan awardee also pitched for
introduction of literary works including those of Kalidasa in the syllabus of Indian colleges along with English literary works.

"If in colleges, works like "Paradise Lost" can be taught, why cannot Kalidasa, Yudhistir and Draupadi be taught? These works are closer to our culture, which everybody across India can understand," said.

Gulzar, however, said he was not against Shakespeare's works being taught in colleges, though. "One must read Shakespeare. I have read it and enjoyed it. We should read it," he added. In the same breath, Gulzar said works of modern writers like Saadat Hasan Manto should also be taught in colleges. Gulzar said India had achieved political independence, but not cultural independence.

"We have got political independence, no doubt, but not cultural independence. We are not free from the colonial mindset," he said. Gulzar rued that poets too at times made the mistake of living in fragments by overlooking some of the incidents happening around them. "I was saddened when Neil Armstrong died, for nobody in India wrote about him. To me, he was the symbol of humanity. I did write a poem. It is sad that we make a mistake of living in fragments, because we find it easy," he said.
He also said poetry was genuinely a statement of poets and they stood by it. "I also wrote on Dr Kalburgi, who was shot dead in Dharwad, though we belonged to different geographical locations and wrote in different languages. I reacted to the incident and made my statement through poetry. Basically, poetry is nothing but a statement of a poet," he said. PTI