Sunday 27 January 2013

Dil dhoondta hai...

I have been fortunate enough to meet and observe at close quarters, the legendary lyricist and poet, Gulzar (real name Sampooarn Singh Kalra) on a few occasions, thanks to my wife’s Ph.d on his poetry. The first time was at his residence on Pali Hill, Bombay in January 2009 when we had to record an interview. We reached at the appointed time and were informed by his secretary that he was in a music session with Vishal Bharadwaj and we would have to wait for some time As we sat in the waiting room we were totally taken aback when Gulzar himself appeared a few minutes later and apologised for the delay due to the extended session. Once Vishal left, we were led into his drawing room which also includes his study (consisting of his library and his study table –with which he has been often photographed) and the interview went off well over a few rounds of chai. When it was time to leave he presented a big box of chocolates for my daughter and came till the entrance of the house to see us off. Obviously we were greatly touched by his humility and simplicity. Since then we have met him at different places Delhi, Jaipur) and at different locations (Diggi palace at Jaipur, India International Centre and the India Habitat Centre at Delhi) and I have come to know different facets of his personality. To start with, he is incredibly sharp and agile for someone who is 79 years old. This is partly because he follows a strict schedule of sports (playing tennis) and writing every day. He is no ivory tower poet who writes as per their whims and fancies. For him writing is a 9 to 5 job (similar to our regular office job) which he carries out with full dedication. After that it is time for his tennis. Secondly, he keeps himself occupied with some sort of literary activity or other. Be it  writing lyrics, poems, releasing books (in Hindi and Urdu),participating in literary festivals, attending plays based on his works Salim Arif, receiving awards or just playing with his two year old grandson who stays close by.
Obviously the general  public is more aware about his film lyrics but apart from the same he a formidable collection of poems and short stories to his credit including a unique  genre of three line poems called Triveni**. Some of these are really outstanding. Sample these
‘Bheega bheega sa kyon hain yeh akhbar
apney hawker ko kal sey change karo

“paanch sau gaon bah gaye is saal”’
‘Kya pataa kab kahan sey mareygee?
Bas ki mein zindagi sey darta hoon

Maut ka kya hai, ek baar mareygee’

As far as the films are concerned, he has given us some outstanding lyrics starting from ‘Bandini’ in 1963 (Mora gora ang lai le) and has been  at his best while dealing with relationships. He was at the top of his prowess in the 70s and 80s. My personal favourites include songs from ‘Khamoshi’ (1970), ‘Anand’ (1970), ‘Aandhi’(1975),  ‘Mausam’(1976), ‘Gharonda’ (1977) and ‘Masoom’(1982) some of which he also directed. He had the capability to beautifully express emotions with unmatched brevity and simplicity
‘Tum aa gaye ho noor aa gaya hai
Nahin to chiragon sey lau jaa rahee thi
Jeeney ki tumsey wajeh mil gayee hai
Badi bewajah zindagi jaa rahi thi’

-Tum aagaye ho, ‘Aandhi’

‘In umr se lambi sadkon ko
Manzil pe pahunchte dekha nahin
Bas daudti phirti rehti hain
Hamney toh theharte dekha nahin’

-Ek akela is sheher mein, ‘Gharonda’

Post ‘Maachis’ (1996) however some critics feel that Gulzar has not written anything significant and there has been a steady decline in his writing. The imagery which was so effortless earlier on seems forced and convoluted and the writing laboured, as in Kajra re from ‘Bunty aur Babli’(2005). To some extent this is true but even now the earlier spark shines through some of his work whenever he keeps the lyrics simple like in ‘Dil to bacha hai jee’ from ‘Ishqiya’(2010) . However, the credit should be given to him for remaining relevant even after spending over 50 years in the industry which has seen so many changes. From Chaiya Chaiya, ‘Dil Se’ (1998) to Beedi, ‘Omkara’ (2006) to Challa from ‘Jab Tak Hain Jaan’ (2012) he has been consistently giving us chart busters.

** A Rupa Publication, 2003

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