Kalpna Singh-Chitnis in Conversation with Rodica Draghincescu

 

       Kalpna in Sari

 

 

 

 

 

 

RD: – Kalpna, you are a poet, actress, movie director, artist, film festival director, and the director of a literary journal. Your country of origin is India, and your adopted country is the United States.

 

 

 

       The Parents of Kalpna

 

 

 

You grew up under the influence of Zen, Buddhist wisdom and plenitude of mystical sentiment.

 

 

 

       Kalpna and his Holyness The Dalai Lama

 

 

 

From the high level of this sentiment, can you explain to us what is inexpressible in poetry? What does poetry signify [symbolize] in your life?

 

 

 

                      Kalpna, 2 Months old

 

 

 

KSC: – What is inexpressible in poetry is the ultimate truth we all are searching for. Even though we express our deepest emotions, such as sorrow and joy in our poetry, something always remains unsaid, and we feel a continual need to express ourselves in search of what we yet  have to find.

 

 

 

                      Kalpna, age 2

 

 

 

Poetry for me symbolizes the very existence of me as a poet; and as a medium of expression, it is my most favorite way to converse with the universe.

 

 

 

                      Kalpna, 5 Years old

 

 

 

RD: – What role does the intensity of a free woman’s poetry play in a world that is rationally hermetic?

 

 

 

KSC: – I think, it fills the need of a bravery that every woman or a hermit both must have. In eastern and western traditions, many women poets who have lead a spiritual life, had that intensity in their poetry, that became the ground of their worship. This intensity is essential, although, it may seem chaotic at times. But this chaos only allows us to go deep in the layers of life where we find wisdom and light.

 

 

 

       Kalpna’s Books

 

 

 

RD: – Numerous Buddhist practitioners let themselves be inspired by the art of poetry in order to make progress toward their self-realization.

 

 

 

       Kalpna and her Buddhist  Sister Markha Madan

 

 

 

Numerous poets aspire to Indian meditation in order to better sublimate their inspiration.

 

 

 

                                     Kalpna, young Writer

 

 

 

What importance an artistic imagination has in heuristic [wisdom-searching] and the way to Buddhahood?

 

 

 

                                     Kalpna at Fourteen

 

 

 

KSC : – The artistic imagination can play an important role in realization of ultimate truth. Buddha himself was a poet, and so were many ancient sages. Even in modern time, there are many examples of seer poets. Writing poetry is connecting to ourselves, and hearing our own inner voice is taking the very first step towards seeking the truth and essential wisdom.

 

 

 

       Interview in India Post

 

 

 

RD: – Doubt, error, and memory are three of the multiple gears of poetic creation. Do Indian poets leave behind these reference points — [or] events of conscience/consciousness?

 

 

 

       Kalpna in her 20s Room in India

 

 

 

KSC: – No poet in any part of the world can leave behind these reference points at any level of consciousness. Without doubts, we won’t go out seeking the truth, without errors, we won’t be able to tell the difference between right and wrong, and without memory, we can’t carry the wisdom inherited or discovered by ourselves.

 

 

 

                      Kalpna Married

 

 

 

RD : – In the 6th century before our era, in the foot of the Himalayas, a prince was born by the name of Siddhârtha Gautama, he was a member of the Shâkya clan. This prince renounced all royal privileges and lived the life of a migrant monk, living an austere life, in order to become, not a philosopher, but « the one who cures human pain. » Then he is metamorphosed, and became the Buddha, « the Awakened. »

 

 

 

                      Kalpna an Actor

 

 

 

Just like a psychiatrist he has known hatred, violence, the unhappiness of daily life, as proofs of the external symptoms of a profound malaise [disease, unease], which he defined as an incessant cycle of strange phenomena that form chains with each other, whose prime motivation is desire and who indefinitely determine birth and rebirth.

 

 

 

                      Kalpna Yoga Modelling

 

 

 

Can poetry lead to such awakening?

 

 

 

       Kalpna with her first Child Shashwat

 

 

 

KSC : – Desires and enlightenment are linked together. They are parts of our karmic cycle. Desires can lead one to pain and sufferings, and the same desire can help us becoming free from all the sufferings and attain Nirvana.

 

 

 

       My four Children

 

 

 

Till we live, we can’t be free from desires, but by having the desire to keep ourselves free from sufferings is that what is important. In poetry, when we express ourselves, we often feel free from the burden of the sentiments, just by expressing ourselves in words.

 

 

 

                      K a Buddhist

 

 

 

The process of writing and sharing poetry is healing and therapeutic. It is certainly capable of curing malaises and give a calmer state of mind for us to see the reflections of life more clearly, bringing a beautiful awakening with in us.

 

 

 

       Kalpna with her Daughter Vishwa

 

 

 

RD : – What inspires you as a poet?

 

 

 

                      My Hometown Gaya – Bodhgaya

 

 

 

KSC : – Sufferings of life, need for more love and compassion in the world, our very existence, and beauty of the nature inspire me as a poet.

 

 

 

       Kalpna, RGGE, Award Interview

 

 

 

RD : – What does your writing defend [stand up for]? What do you defend as a woman and an artist?

 

 

 

       Kalpna Director

 

 

 

KSC : – At a higher level of consciousness “I” is an illusion, but as a reference point, my existence as a woman and an artist has always inspired me to be genuine in my expressions, and accept myself for who I am, stand for the values mankind treasures, defend them who can’t defend themselves, and not give in to self-doubts under any circumstances; as believing in oneself is very important, before we want the world to believe in us.

 

 

 

                      Kalpna Cover Girl

 

 

 

RD : – Poetry is a crossing of unknown languages and symbols. Poetry is the shadow of our life, and its contour and magical content. Your own poetry is some kind of dance of the spirit, a dance that is rich and carries with it a deep teaching. Who has made you discover this artistic magic?

 

 

 

       Center Bodhgaya

 

 

 

KSC : – Writing poetry is in many ways an act of self-realization for me. Love is with in us, so is the dance and magic. Yet, many things in life come to remind us of the wealth we have with in. We call them our inspirations, who help us discover our artistic magic. My inspiration is love, given by the universe in abundance, and sometimes absence of it, that helps me discover my artistic magic, to dance in the shadows and light of my poetry.

 

 

 

       Kalpna Winning Award for her Film Girl with an Accent

 

 

 

RD : – Who are the authors who dominated [directed] your formative readings?

 

 

 

       Kalpna Poetry‘s Album

 

 

 

KSC : – There are many writers and poets who inspire me, and I may seem to carry influences of some of them knowingly and unknowingly. But I try to remain original and not let other authors dominate or direct my own style of writing. But I really like reading good poetry of the poets ancient and contemporary, who are known for having deeper understanding of life and love, with universal outlook.

 

 

 

       KSC Reciving Rajiv Gandhi Global Excellence Award

 

 

 

RD : – Do feelings have an important place in your poetry ? What are the key words, the major symbols of your writing?

 

 

 

       Kalpna in Goodbye my Friend

 

 

 

KSC : – My poetry is more feelings and less statement. Key words can be found as, love, hope, sadness, remorse, repentance, celebrations darkness and light.

 

 

       Kalpna  and Richard Gere

 

 

 

RD : – In India, your country of origin, and the United States, Kalpna, you are active on several levels: literature, cinema, family and social life. Where does this wonderful [beautiful] energy come from, and how do you channel it?

 

 

 

       Kalpna with Sally Kirkland and other Filmmakers

 

 

 

KSC : – Most of the times it comes from within, but I also offer myself to the world freely, without holding back, without any bias and barriers, and let the beautiful energy of the universe flow with in. I’m enriched by my experiences in my personal and professional life, and channeling that energy it brings to me is a subtle and gentle process, like breathing life, effortlessly and miraculously.

 

 

 

       Kalpna and Lois Goseset

 

 

 

RD : – Since when do you have a passion for the world of film and what are your most accomplished [beautiful] realizations in this artistic terrain?

 

 

 

       K and Elizabeth Sung and Chuti Tiu

 

 

 

KSC : – I have always loved films, since I was a young child. When I was about 5 years old, I went to see a film called “Mera Naam Joker” (My Name is Joker) directed by legendary Indian film director and actor Raj Kapoor. That film lived in my heart forever, and I wanted to act and direct films like him. I could not realize my dream of becoming a filmmaker in India, though I acted there for many years, mostly as a theater artist and some television work. The very first opportunity to direct a film came to me after graduating from the New York Film Academy in 2004. Since then, I have directed a number of short films. I love to direct and act, and my most accomplished project as an actor and director so far is my debut feature “Goodbye My Friend” that is finishing it’s festival rounds this year, and awaiting distribution.

 

 

 

       K and Rumer

 

 

 

RD : – Your country India, is a land of great philosophical and cultural traditions. What do your Indian roots contribute to contemporary art and literature?

 
KSC : – India has given many artists, writers and poets to the world, who have made great contributions at national and international level. But, the mainstream Indian literature, that is being written there in several regional languages, is still not being read and recognized at international level, in want of good translations and successful marketing. Instead, those who are writing there in English, mostly those writers and their works are being read and recognized. Cultural and Philosophical identity of India is more known to the world than her art and literature.
 

 

 

       K with Poet and Filmmaker Gulzar

 

 

 

RD : – What are your most notable [beautiful] successes until the present?

 

KSC : – Learning the art of happiness, and finding my identity as a writer, poet, filmmaker and a mother, can be considered as my most notable successes so far.

 

RD : – What would be your most significant [beautiful] professional dreams and future projects ?

 

KSC :- My dream is to make socially conscious cinema to address important issues that need our attention. My most ambitious professional dream is to make epic films on life of some living saints like Thich Nhat Hanh and Dalai Lama. I also wish to spend more time in seclusion to write more poetry, some novels and books on metaphysics.

 

 

 

Important Note: Rodica’s Questions below in French translated into English by Ute Margaret Saine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

____________________________________________

 

 

 

 

Kalpna Singh-Chitnis Bio

 

Kalpna Singh-Chitnis is an Indian-American Poet, Filmmaker and Actor of East Indian descent based in the United States. She is also the President and Founder of “Silent River Film Festival” and Editor-in-Chief of “Life and Legends” literary magazine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Born in Gaya, Bihar, India, where Buddha got enlightenment, Kalpna grew up with much influence of Buddhism on her, despite her Hindu background. Educated at Magadh University Bodhgaya and New York Film Academy in Universal Studios, Hollywood, she began her career as a writer and lecturer of Political Science. She also worked as an actress and a model, before turning to the film directing.

 

Author of the “Bare Soul” (a poetry collection in English) and three anthologies of poems in Hindi, Kalpna found success as a writer at a very young age and won the prestigious “Bihar Rajbhasha Award” (1986-87) for her first poetry collection “Chand Ka Paivand” (Patch of Moon) before age 21, and the title of ‘Bihar Shree’ (Jewel of Bihar) in 1987. She also received “Rajiv Gandhi Global Excellence Award” in 2014 in New Delhi, for her contributions to literature and film at national and international levels.

 

Kalpna’s poetry collections “Bare Soul”, “Tafteesh Jari Hai” (The Investigation Continues) and “Nishant” (The Dawn) have received praise from eminent writers, scholars and critics such as Nobel prize nominees Dr. Wazir Agha, Naseer Ahmad Nasir, Vaptsarov Award and Ordre des Arts et des Lettres winner poet Amrita Pritam, Academy Award winning lyricist, poet and filmmaker Gulzar, Gyanpeeth Award winner poets Kedarnath Singh, Shaharyar and others.

 

Kalpna’s literary works have been widely published in Indian Subcontinent, Europe and in North America. Her poems have been featured in prominent journals like The Enchanting Verses, Levure litteraire, World Poetry, Prairie Light Review, Hans, Kadambini, Dharamyug, Saptahik Hindustan, Indraprastha Bharti, Femina, Care, just to name a few. She has also been interviewed on ABC Channel 7, Voice of America, LA 18, Doordarshan (India’s National Television), KPFK Radio, Aakashvani (India’s National Radio) and has made several headlines in newspapers like Telegraph, OC Register, Los Angeles Times (Daily Pilot), OC Weekly, Times of India, Navbharat Times, Prabhat Khabar, Indian Express and others.

 

Kalpna’s fourth Poetry Collection BARE SOUL has been among the top 10 best-selling American Poetry and top 27th best-selling World Poetry on Amazon Kindle. Her poetry album TOUCHED BY THE DEVIL (poetry in paradox) published in 2011 is available online. Her audio poetry “Ancient Love” and poetry collection “’Bare Soul” will soon be available in print in 2014.

 

Kalpna’s work as a film director was first recognized when her short film GIRL WITH AN ACCENT screened at many international film festivals and won “Silver Award” at SMTV Mumbai International Film Festival in 2006. Her debut feature GOODBYE MY FRIEND (Adios Mi Amigo) world premiered at the Silent River Film Festival in September 2011 and had it’s South Asian premiere on January 18th 2012 at the Dhaka International Film Festival, Bangladesh. Goodbye My Friend has also been officially selected at Guwahati International Film Festival (India), LUMS International Film Festival Lahore (Pakistan), Life Fest (Hollywood) and Broadway International Film Festival (Los Angeles) in USA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kalpna is currently working on developing the screenplay of her next feature film ALL ABOUT MY FATHER and shooting her next film “Dancing in the Rain” (based on a true story), to raise awareness about the issue of honor killing in Indian Sub-continent and Mid-East.

 

www.kalpnasinghchitnis.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Journalist :             

 

 

Rodica Draghincescu

www.draghincescu.com

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