“Ek sabab marne ka, ek talab jeene ki
Chaand pukhraaj ka, raat pashmine ki”
If someone told us that hearts were won by words, it was Gulzar. With the power of his pen, Gulzar won many hearts and many awards as well. Popular with the name of Gulzar, this lyricist plus poet is also a film director. But he had to struggle a lot in his life journey. Born on 18 August 1934, in Jhelum district in British India (now Pakistan), Sampooran Singh Kalra always had a thousand thoughts running in his mind. The thoughts, just waiting to paint the world in million emotions. He read the translations of Tagore, which had him inspired and he started to write. After Partition, his family had to move to India and he had to leave his studies. Now he was in Mumbai. He started looking for work to earn a livelihood for his family. Since, the only job he could find was at a mechanic’s shop. His job was to mix colors and paint damaged cars. When he recalls it, he says that he had a knack for colors. Why wouldn’t it be? His mind is so colorful. The thoughts came out in the form of colors and soon he stepped into the music industry for which his father chided him. When he recalls it, he says that he enjoyed being a writer, as it allowed him to read, write, attend college and be active in Progressive Writers Association. Later, he took up the pen name Gulzar Deenvi and later used only ‘Gulzar’ as his name. He primarily writes in Urdu, Punjabi and a few dialects in Hindi – Braj Bhasha, Marwadi, Khadiboli and Haryanvi.
He later joined S. D. Burman and started his career as a lyricist and the first movie for which he ever gave his lyrics to was ‘Bandini’ in 1963. It all started with the meetings of Progressive Writers Association where Shailendra and Bimal Roy encouraged Gulzar to start working for films. After Bandini, he also wrote the lyrics and dialogues for Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s film Aashirwaad – starring Ashok Kumar. However, Ashok Kumar won awards for Best Actor category at Filmfare and National Films Awards but the hard work of Gulzar did not get much recognition, the way it deserved. But soon after that, he got a lot of attention for his lyrics for the song ‘ Humne Dekhi Hai Un Aakhon Ki Mehekti Khushboo’ in the 1969 film Khamoshi as the song turned out to be very popular. The song of the film Guddi (1971) – ‘Humko Mann Ki Shakti Dena’ is still sung in schools. He was in a close association with music director R. D. Burman. Being a lyricist, Gulzar has done much of amazing works, enough to leave you surprised. He has worked with Bimal Roy, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, S. D. Burman, Shankar Jaikishan, Hemant Kumar, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Madan Mohan, Rajesh Roshan, Mani Ratnam, Anu Malik, Salil Chowdhary, Vishal Bharadwaj, A. R. Rahman, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and many more. During this period, he also gave his lyrics to many films like – Bandini, Aashirwaad, Khamoshi, Mere Apne, Mausam, Maachis, Omkara, Kaminey, Dil Se, Raavan, Bunty aur Babli, Slumdog Millionaire etc.
As a film director, he worked with many renowned actors and actresses some of which are Sanjeev Kumar, Hema Malini, Meena Kumari, Vinod Khanna, Jeetendra, Nasiruddin Shah and many more. He directed the most phenomenal films of that time, some of which are – Aandhi, Mausam, Ijaazat, Hut Tu Tu, Meera, Parichay, Khushboo, Kinara etc. He started his career as a film director with the film Mere Apne starring Meena Kumari. In 1988, he even directed a television serial called ‘Mirza Ghalib’ starring Nasiruddin Shah which was telecasted on Doordarshan.
Gulzar is married to an Indian film actress Rakhee and has a daughter with her. Meghna Gulzar is also a film director and her latest film was Raazi.
People like Gulzar inspire us to keep the fire within us burning, no matter what. Gulzar is not just an artist, he is an inspiration.