Picking up a bunch of best Gulzar poems is like finding a needle in the sea. If one has to select only a bunch of flowers from the vast gardens of Amsterdam, isn’t it injustice with the remaining treasure full of equal beauty and purity. And talking about Gulzar, it is definitely bigger and deeper than one can ever imagine. From such a massive treasure of nazms, ghazals and trivenis, its extremely difficult to pick up some. Firstly, one should have read at least 75 percent of his poems if not all. Secondly, one should have understood them. And thirdly, one also should possess a good understanding of the nuances of the Urdu language.
Sadly, I do not fit any of the criteria. And yet, I am being arrogant enough to handpick his best collections.
In my defence, I will say here I am posting some of my personal favorites. There is no logical reasoning behind selecting these poems. These are just my favorites.
And the first one in the list – the introductory lines for the Doordarshan series – Mirza Ghalib.
Asadullah Khan Ghalib is, without a doubt one of the best Urdu poets in the last ten centuries. And Gulzar’s admiration, respect and love for this legend is quite evident so often. His book “Mirza Ghalib – A Biographical Scenario (2011)”, his numerous references to Ghalib in his poems, his entire tele series which aired on Doordarshan is a testimony to his love for the great poet.
I can imagine the joy and pleasure Gulzar saab might have derived while writing about his own idol. I feel the same while writing about Gulzar saab himself. The above poem was the opening sequence in the tele series in Gulzar’s own “kharjaa” voice. In a way, this poem is Gulzar’s tribute to his Maazi – Ghalib. And that makes it one of his best creations.
In one of his old interviews, Naseeruddin Shah had expressed that playing Mirza Ghalib was the most disturbing experience of his entire career. He also mentioned that Gulzar bhai once told him that whatever information you require about the character will be available in the script. If it is not there, then the script is not good enough. Shah had since then followed Gulzar’s lines as a guiding principle throughout.
So those who have not actually been to Ballimaran in old Delhi, check Google. It is nothing unique. It is one of those congested, polluted and commercialized parts of the capital – nothing to suggest that Mirza Ghalib stayed there long ago. But it is only Gulzar who can describe such a crowded, old and nondescript place with a melancholy and poignancy that it creates a strong yearning to go back in time.
The first line – the metaphor of “Pechida daleelo ki si galiya”, “complex appeals of the court” for the streets of Ballimaran is sheer brilliance.
And every other line is a beautiful reminder of a nostalgic era – be it the “धुंधलाई हुई शाम” or the “बेनूरअँधेरे” or the “टाट के परदे”, everything is bygone, ancient and yet beautiful.
And then at the end
“एक क़ुरान-ए-सुख़न का सफ़ा खुलता है. ‘असद उल्लाह खाँ ग़ालिब’ का पता मिलता है.
A page opens up to Mirza Ghalib’s address.
No one could have conceived an ending with such a beautiful opening !!!
I couldn’t have found a better opening poem to my series on Gulzar !