Gulzar (18 August 1934 )
saw the sea of bouquets that arrived at his doorstep in Pali Hill on Monday morning soon after the Oscar announcement, he told an old friend, poet Arun Shevate Bhai, why don’t you remove the cellophane wrapping so that the flowers can breathe.
This gentle, lyrical spirit has pervaded his 50-odd years of writing from his debut in Bandini, to the slick Slumdog Millionnaire. He has created a legacy of gems, some pensive (Humne dekhi hai un aankhon ki mehekti khushboo), some exuberant (Chaiya Chaiya, Kajra re), but always memorable (Tere bina zindagi se koi shikwa to nahin). His extraordinary ability to touch a chord with people across generations and cultures makes the Academy Award particularly deserving.Gulzar
born Sampooran Singh Kalra, started his life as a garage mechanic in Mumbai, but was spotted in literary soirees which were then a popular feature in the city. Lyricist Shailendra
cajoled him to write a song for Bimal Roy
’s classic Bandini
. With Mora gora rang layee le came instant fame and began his tryst with the Hindi film world, where he penned songs, wrote dialogues and scripts. He later moved to direction, tackling a range of themes from personal to political, Meera
He first collaborated with Hrishikesh Mukherjee
as a scriptwriter for Guddi
. His first film as director was Mere Apne
, which captured the urban angst of the 70s, followed by Parichay an adaptation of Sound Of Music followed by Achanak
, a seering love story. Then came Koshish
, a poignant tale of a physically challenged couple, followed by Aandhi
, rumoured to be based on the woman behind the politician that was Indira Gandhi.
He followed his tracks with host of other films including, Khusboo based on a Sarat Chandra novel,Mausam
, Hu Tu Tu
. Besides these films, he also made several short and documentary films.
The subject of all the films are diverse and explore different facets of human emotions. Though most of his films depicted sensitive aspects of human emotions, Angoor
stood out for its brilliant comedy. It was an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors. He approached child psychology with great tenderness in Kitaab
. The film starred the Bengali superstar Uttam Kumar and Master Rajoo. Meera
was a historical starring Hema Malini
in the lead role. He got the music maestro Ravi Shankar
to compose the music of the film. Ijaazat
was a poignant love triangle starring Naseeruddin Shah
, Rekha and Anuradha Patel
. It featured his most praised lyric Mera kuch saman tumhare pass pada hai. Maachis highlighted the plight of Sikh youths during the peak of the Khalistan movement. Lekin
was adapted from Tagore’s famous short story Hungry Stones.Gulzar
also directed a few TV series, the most notable among them being Mirza Ghalib starring Naseeruddin Shah
in the title role. The songs were rendered by Jagjit Singh
and remain eternal favorites. As a director he felt most confident working with R.D. Burman
whom he used to affectionately called Pancham. The duo even wemt to compose non filmy albums like Dil Padosi Hai.
Many say he is the most important lyricist in Hindi cinema after Shailendra
and Saher Ludhianvi, infusing fresh meanings into words without resorting to the usual cliches. It is to his credit that as a lyricist he delved into almost every aspect of human emotions, from romance to sensuality to fantasy, to comedy, to patriotism, to item songs to what have you. With equal fecundity he wrote the ethereal Jia Jale to the raunchy Chaiyya Chaiyya in Dil Se
. his Beedi jalialey jigar se piya set a new benchmark for all item songs.Gulzar
’s appeal extended to children as well: Jungle jungle baat chali hai pataa chalaa hai
, is remembered by all who watched vintage, no-remote Doordarshan.
In his trademark kurta pajama and white canvas shoes, the poet remains an enduring and beloved figure whether on a Bandra tennis court or a cold confines of a recording studio.