Gulzar – The eternal journey of emotions

In an interview with Loksatta, Gulzar saab had once mentioned – a writer is more a writer by practice than by the skill.

Gulzar is turning a whopping 84 years this 18th August.

Of course he looks the same – no difference to his pure white aura. But every year, year after year, he continues to churn out the most beautiful and poignant lyrics of our times. How can a single man bring out such a treasure of emotions and thoughts is beyond my ability to comprehend? He is contemporary and classic at the same time and yet he exudes a wholesome honesty and innocence. It’s sometimes surreal and unbelievable.

He is blessed with an exceptional power over words, no doubt. He has immense experience – without a doubt. He has kept his inquisitiveness and observation alive all these years – by all means. But above all of it, by his own admission, it is the consistency in his writing that has contributed the most to his astounding volume of literature.

I was in high school when my dad bought a cassette of “Marasim”. The music was by Jagjit Singh and the lyrics by Gulzar. At the same time the video song “Shyam se aankh mei name si hai” was popular on TV. The album had some of the most soulful songs I had ever heard till then. And I was immediately mesmerized. I listened to the songs till the tape was broken. And I bought another copy. The songs were meant for adults and the emotions which were dealt with were complex. But surprisingly, the words were – subtle – to say the least. For the first time in life, I could understand and appreciate the “Ghazal” form of music. Not only that, but it was my first introduction to that hauntingly beautiful language – Urdu. No doubt, I became a huge devotee of this wordsmith.

I started reading about Gulzar from whatever sources I could get. There was no internet of course. But I had my parents. And they introduced me to some of his older masterpieces – Mausam, Parichay, Dil Padosi Hai, Lekin and Rudaali. One by one the doors were opened for me to enter, experience, soak and then sink.

And then, one fine day I also accidently found out that most of my fond childhood memories are his creations.

“Jungle jungle baat chali hai pata chala hai.” “Aya aya jhannu vali jhunnu ka baba”. “Agar magar dole naiyya”. If you are a nineties kid like me and you know what I mean, these were the songs which enriched my childhood and I treasured them like ice-creams in hot summers.

That was it. And I haven’t been able to come out of the Gulzar trance since then.

And it was not as if I did not have options. My parents – both music and literature freaks also introduced me to Ghulam Ali, Mehdi Hassan, Hridaynath Mangeshkar and some of the best Marathi legends like Shanta Shelke, Mangesh Padgaonkar, Kusumagraj. I myself loved Javed Akhtar. But Gulzar stayed!!

Much later, I started understanding the subtle nuances of cinema as a medium of expression. I could distinguish between the bad and the good movie. And i watched his movies like Khushboo, Mausam, Ijaajat, Aandhi, Parichay and even Angoor and Kitaab. They were benchmarks in many ways. They were ahead of their times and the projection of his vision as a director/story teller was crystal clear.

The biggest high came when I got hold of his poetry books. I was old enough to understand the beauty of “Raat pashmine ki”, “Pukhraaj”, “Raavi Paar” and “Triveni”. I savored them all the first time I read them. And I keep going back to them ever so often. Every time, I get a new meaning from those old lines. I interpret new things. And there are new emotions.

Now that I am a mother, I am hunting for his children books “Boski ki kahaniyaan”.

In the past almost twenty years now, in so many ways, so many aspects of my life invariably take me back to Gulzar saab. I revere him. I worship him. But more than that, his work is the constant source of energy, inspiration and quality in my life. It’s my coffee for that rainy evening. It’s the ringing of the bell in the temple. It’s the fragrance of the soil, the sound of the breeze and the touch of the mother.

I am too small and inadequate to comment anything about the mountain of work he has created in the last five decades. However, in my own humble way, I wish to pay him a tribute for giving so much happiness and peace to countless Indians.

Starting tomorrow, till his birthday, I am posting some of his best creations (according to me) from films, poetry and songs along with my thoughts on them. This will not be a review or an analysis. But this will be my small attempt at understanding the creative genius.

At the end: May he keep on writing till the end of time. May he keep on making our lives “Gulzar”.

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