NEW DELHI (TIP): His lyrics speak of winter afternoons spent soaking the sun in the courtyard, stars walking the streets after rain, the moon being an insomniac and the heart a neighbour. Gulzar, whose song writing brought a range of fresh metaphors to Hindi cinema and whose movies feel like visual literature, will receive the Dadasaheb Phalke award for 2013. “It is national honour.
It is a feeling of fulfillment of not one song, screenplay, but the total work one does. I feel blessed,” the 79-year-old filmmaker told a TV channel. A seven-member jury has unanimously recommended his name. During Emergency, Gulzar’s film “Aandhi” was banned by the Congress government as the protagonist played by Suchitra Sen was deemed to be modelled on then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. It is both ironical and heart-warming that Indian filmdom’s biggest official honour comes to the Punjab-born director during the Congress-led UPA rule.
On Saturday, Twitter was abuzz with congratulatory posts. One of them said, Ab ki baar, Gulzar, a naughty twist to the BJP’s campaign slogan for the ongoing Lok Sabha polls. Gulzar’s finest work, both as a director and a lyricist, are sensitive manuscripts of the human heart. Movies such as “Koshish”, “Achanak”, “Mausam”, “Namkeen”, “Ijaazat” leave you with a sense of loss and ache. But he has also made films of joy and laughter: “Parichay” and “Angoor”, to name a couple.
Quite a few have also been political in content: “Mere Apne” (youth unrest), “Maachis” (Punjab terrorism), “Aandhi” and “Hu Tu Tu”. And his television series, “Mirza Ghalib”, is regarded as an all-time classic. In his early years, Gulzar assisted the very special Bimal Roy and wrote his first song for the latter’s 1963 classic, “Bandini”, “Mora gora ang le le” (music director: SD Burman). Over the years he also teamed up with classy composers such as Hemant Kumar, Madan Mohan, Kanu Roy, Salil Chowdhury, AR Rahman and Vishal Bharadwaj. With Rahman, he won both the Oscar and the Grammy for the “Slumdog Millionaire” track, “Jai Ho”. But his best work happened with RD Burman.
Over the years, the lyricist has spoken fondly of the late composer whom he always referred to as Pancham, his pet name. The two were at their collaborative best in films such as “Aandhi”, “Khushboo”, “Masoom”, “Ijaazat”, “Ghar” and “Khoobsurat”. As a lyricist, Gulzar has evolved with the changing times. Without compromising on his craft, he has found the right words to reach out and engage with a new generation. If “Kajra re” (film: “Bunty aur Babli”) is fun and young, “Bidi jalai le” (film: “Omkara”) reeks with erotic passion.
In “Kaminey”, he uses the expression, “Ek hi lat suljhane mein saari raat bitayee hai” (I have spent an entire night sorting out one knot in your hair) in one track to reaffirm that his delicacy of expression is intact. Like fine wine, Gulzar has improved over the years. The filmmaker has also groomed a lot of talented actors and technicians notably Vishal Bharadwaj, Jimmy Shergil and Tabu. “Mere Apne”, his first film as a director, also had a bunch of newcomers including Danny, Asrani and Dinesh Thakur.
A popular poet and writer, Gulzar is a crowdpuller at litfests and mushairas alike. Generally dressed in starched white kurta-pyjamas and shawls in the winter, he has come to symbolize the erudite litterateur. He is also a spokesperson for humanism, communal amity and a votary for peace, especially with sparring neighbours. The Dadasaheb Phalke award is a crown jewel in a glittering career.