Gulzar, Indian film’s old man of poetry. Who used to be Indian film’s young man of poetry. But time moves on, and now he is the lyricist and dialogue writer with the longest innings in the industry.
1.I love you because you fell in love with poetry as a farm boy in the Punjab when you stumbled across a translation of Tagore and it changed your life.
2. I love you because your family lost everything in Partition and moved to Bombay where you got a job mixing paints in a garage, but this didn’t stop you from keeping up your writing and your studies.
3. I love you because you came into film sidewise, through meeting artists in the Progressive Writers Association, membership in which you kept up after working in a garage all day.
4. I love you because you were one of Meena Kumari’s closest friends and inherited and have protected to this day her diaries.
5. I love you because you married Raakhee and then quietly let that marriage day, while remaining in the life of your very talented daughter Meghna (director of Raazi)
6. I love you because you got your first big break at age 29 when a friend from the Progressive Writers Association introduced you to SD Burman who had you write the lyrics for one song in Bandini, one song which became extremely popular.
7. There was no turning back after that, within a few years you were writing whole movies, story and dialogue and lyrics. For instance, Anand.
8. And then you added directing to your skill set. Poet, lyricist, scriptwriter, story writer, and director, all in one man. And all simultaneously, new songs and new poems and new scripts coming out at the same time you were directing your films. And not just “poetical” films, also twin confusion comedies like Angoor.
9. It would be impossible to list all your most famous and beloved songs. So I will simply select a few at random to highlight. For instance, an ode to a father’s love for his daughter written for your own daughter, for her big breakout film as a director, “Dilbaro” from Raazi.
10. Most of the films you directed were dark and heartbreaking stories of social tragedies. But you still had time for light and beauty even in these dark stories, like your song “Chai Chapa Chai”, a happy moment of love and youth and joy before these two characters end up crippled by politics.
11. Another one of my favorite songs, in which your lyrics play a big part in capturing a certain ill-defined mood. “Ajnabi Shehar” from Jaan-E-Mann.
(“a strange city, a strange evening….strange life”)
12. Another song which somehow captures and describes a particular impossible to describe feeling, “Kaminey” from Kaminey.
(“My dreams are mean/disgusting/small/dirty, my wishes are mean/disgusting/small/dirty”)
13. Mirzya, that strangely brilliant film, was one where you wrote the story, the dialogues, and the lyrics Explaining why the whole thing feels like a poem.
14. Your most recent film, Soorma, shows that at age 84 you can still retreat to your Punjabi youth and feel what it is like to be in love again for the first time.
15. And so, strange though it may see, I want to end with an anthem to Punjabi warriors who just keep going, whether they are young hockey players or an old old man who will keep writing until the day he dies.