From Mora Gora Ang Layi Le to Tere Bina Besuwadi, Sampooran Singh Kalra has had an amazing journey so far. It's incredible to note how this Sikh, born in Pakistan and who started his career as a car mechanic would go on to achieve, what he achieved.
Penning himself with a peculiar name like Gulzar, Mr. Kalra went on to produce and create some of the most defining lyrics ever written in Hindi cinema. His body of work in last 45 odd years includes amongst other things, poetry, film script, song lyrics, writing books, writing gazhals, producing and directing movies and also politically incorrect adventures.
For me one of the most striking attributes of Gulzar as a creative mind is his creative scalability. His ease of transitioning from one generation to another. That a person can create an almost consistent kind of magic with Sachin Dev Burman as with A.R Rahman is mind boggling if not utterly ludicrous. Gulzar transcended almost 3 generations of music lovers and his creative juices were fresh enough everytime to lure all of these 3 generations into an enduring experience of pure magical lyricism.
To envelope his entire work into one article would be doing gross injustice to everything I pretend to know of Hindi cinema. So I won't even try. For someone, who had the pleasure of meeting him personally by accident once, I still find him a mystical figure. A kind of figure who will make everyone in the audience swoon to his silken commentary. To his lyrical subtleties. To his weaving of words in such a way that the collection of those words would become a classic almost everytime they are written or spoken or sung.
At the very basic, Gulzar is a magician. A magician of words. A wordsmith of the highest order.
From the very energetic or energizing Chayya Chayya to the contemporary-feeling Sham Se Aankh Gulzar manages to keep us "engaged". Nothing is more brilliant than having listeners "connected" to your work. And this connection Gulzar can have with his loyal fans or even not so loyal fans, could easily be a subject of someone's study. Why Gulzar can connect with a substantially large group of people even though he uses heavy dozes of metaphor ism, both in his lyrics and scripts, cannot be explained by a simple one para answer.
It's hard to think how a brutally bare and abstract 'song' like Ek hi khwab can still be appealing! Or the simple and intentionally childish Lakdi ki kathee can be so powerfully forceful, that it was a given that it would be shown on Doordarshan every 14th November. No other "children's" song till date has replaced this one. And we are talking 25 years past Masoom.
But Gulzar is not only about lyrics. He kept on raising the bar everytime he ventured into something. Like the movies he directed. His, matured-adult love triangle Ijazat remains my personal favorite. He took Indian audience where no one had gone before. Infidelity with an uber face. But the infidelity shown was so Gulzarique, it almost gave an alternative justification to the protagonist's character in the movie.
You would be mistaken if you stereotyped Gulzar into one creative identity. That of a relationship centric writer with pseudo romanticism as premise of most of his work. Gulzar never stationed himself on one platform. Or genre. Angoor till date remains a timeless classic. Again not by coincidence it happens to be my favorite comedy movie. It was Gulzar's tribute to another cinematic genius and his own mentor Bimal Roy. Some might say Gulzar retains Bimal Roy's sensibilities; only grows on it.
Gulzar or his work,i feel has not been reasonably appreciated by his fraternity or even the Government. (He was awarded a Padma Bhushan in 2004 though) But I guess his almost cult following more than makes up for that. You have to be in one of those Yahoo.com forums to know what i mean, when i say cult. Gulzar wouldn't care less about lack of recognition. He underplays his achievements and remains out of mainstream focus almost by design. Unlike some heavy duty alleged song writers of the day.
It would be an incomplete article if R.D Burman is not mentioned in any obeisance to Gulzar. It's not unreasonable to say that Gulzar brought out the best in RD and some may say "vice versa". His numerous gut wrenching tributes to RD in form of albums can almost always make it to collector's shelf.
This is then, to 45 years of durability, class, genius and creativity of the very highest order. This is to - Sir Sampooran Singh Kalra a.k.a Gulzar sahab.
Some known and not so known, but priceless pearls from Gulzar :
Ghulami, Maya Memsaab, Namkeen , Khoobsoorat , Lekin , Gharonda , Marasim
More on Gulzar here