A wordsmith who enthrals through soulful poems
In an illustrious career spanning over five decades, Gulzar (or Gulzar Sahab, as he is fondly known by his fans and admirers) has been a name to reckon with in the Hindi film industry and is one of India's foremost writers in Urdu and Hindi. He has written dialogues, screenplays, lyrics and even directed some of the most riveting films of Hindi cinema. It is the power of his pen, however, that continues to keep people mesmerised in the present day. He believes in empowering the lesser represented - from the Indian rural society, to the poor and downtrodden and the female characters in all his films.
Earlier, the masterful wordsmith also penned a heart-wrenching expression of the migrant worker's struggles, their plight yet their unbroken spirit when the Coronavirus pandemic had begun spreading, leaving the world in a tizzy. The poem, written in both Hindi and Urdu, has been translated in English by Rakhshanda Jalil, an author and a literary historian.
Sampooran Singh Kalra, or Gulzar Deenvi (after his birthplace Dina, now in Pakistan) was born on August 18, 1934. Mirza Ghalib and his life are one of his fondest topics, having created a series for DD National in the late-eighties starring Naseeruddin Shah as Ghalib. Few songs of Gulzar's also pay tribute to the legendary Urdu poet.
In the words of Gulzar Sahab, "Ghalib is very important for everyone. You should know about him even if you are not familiar with his language. His poems, his lifestyle, his behaviour everything is a great inspiration. At a time when people used to carry their religion on their shoulders, Ghalib talked about humanity. The man lost seven children and carried a huge sadness inside him but despite that he was known for his sense of humour."
He also became a member of the Progressive Writers' Movement. It was while attending its meetings with his friend, mentor and iconic Bollywood lyricist Shailendra, that he met Bimal Roy, whose film 'Bandini' (1963) became Gulzar's first project as a lyricist. After this, he has been associated with several films in various capacities which can only be described as the ones that stir your soul, in one way or another.
According to Gulzar, writing is a full-time job. In his recent interview, he said, "When writers say that they need to 'set the mood' or 'get into the zone', those are all ways to procrastinate. Not prerequisites."
The writer and creative powerhouse also draws inspiration from the space. He shares that NASA is his favourite website, 'the universe with its abstract nature attracts
me. The abstract element in my poetry comes from there. I often write about the moon, and more often than not, it is to symbolise a person, or a quality.'
In his book, 'Chand Pukhraj Ka', Gulzar has written a 'nazm' (poetry) on 'nazms' being inspired by a special someone.
It reads, "Nazm uljhi hui hai sine mein; misre atke hue hain honton par; afz kaghaz pe baithte hi nahin; udte phirte hain titliyon ki tarah; kab se baitha hua hun main jaanam; sada kaghaz pe likh ke nam tera; bas tera nam hi mukammal hai; iss se behtar bhi nazm kya hogi!"
Gulzar Sahab has also published a number of poetry anthologies namely 'Janam', 'Ek Boond Chand', 'Kuch Aur Nazme', 'Pukhraj'; several collections of short stories and a biography of Mirza Ghalib titled 'Mirza Ghalib: A Biographical Scenario'.