Gulzar alias Sampooran Singh Kalra is a poet or shair first and lyricist later. He entered the world of cinema reluctantly and walked away by choice. As much a part of it as he is not, his poetry resonates beyond the fleeting moments on the celluloid because he writes to release his inner energy and to share his experience of life. Much of what he writes, therefore, has earthy smell that one can easily relate to.
Conducted over twenty five skype sessions lasting for almost an hour each, Nasreen Munni Kabir has pioneered a rather successful concept in book writing that is not only convenient but cost-effective too. But credit must go to Gulzar for being clear, concise and reflective in his response. There is never a dull moment, the conversation is as much engaging as revealing. His poetry may have an element of mystery but not when it comes to opening his mind.
Had his life not turned to be what it is, Gulzar may have been sitting in some small shop in a small town selling fabrics - ‘I get a sort of sinking feeling in my heart’. But he chose not to tread on his parental business and followed his destiny instead. Yet, fabric remains an integral part of his life. He calls his daughter ‘Bosky’ – one of the finest fabrics that is both sober and elegant. And if this wasn’t enough, his home in Mumbai is named ‘Boskyana’.
The conversation is an interesting mixture of poetry and prose. Gulzar is elegant with both, the writer and editor in him work in unison to produce amazing nuggets of wisdom. ‘I strongly believe writers must be aware of what is happening in the world and have a strong sense of values, believing in some kind of ideology is essential’. For Gulzar ‘writing’ has been no less than a euphemism for ‘being’, something which he has pursued with unfailing commitment and unfading passion.
Kabir brings out the best in Gulzar by asking simple but well-researched questions. The narrative is racy but enriching, as the conversation traverses through his early childhood and a rather long journey as an accomplished poet. The conversation is free-flowing with loads of interesting anecdotes about Gulzar’s interaction with some of the finest exponents of poetry and music. The nature and quality of conversation makes it an absorbing reading.
One gets a glimpse into the poet’s mind but there is lot more that one would like to know. As for me, I would have liked to ask Gulzar the reason for him having given one-word title to most of the films he made, be it Parichay, Mausam, Kitaab or Angoor....Link
In the company of a poet: Gulzar
by Nasreen Munni Kabir
Rainlight/Rupa, New Delhi
206 pages, Rs 380