In Two Tales of My Times, Gulzar skilfully pieces together the
1980s’ scenario as portrayed in New Delhi Times and Maachis
He is an immense fountain of creativity. And the words that flow from him take myriad, sturdy streams: poetry, stories, screenplays, dialogues, songs and books. Gulzar never ceases to spring a surprise with his sheer inventiveness, evince awe with the contemporariness of his themes and the ever-expanding range of his expression, which is as eloquent as his silence.
The similes and metaphors that he employs, the idioms and forms he chooses and the beautiful images that he draws, always take one’s breath away. As a director, he wowed us all with films like Khushboo, Koshish, Kinara, Parichay, Kitaab, Ijaazat, Mausam, Lekin, Aandhi and Angoor.
As a short story writer, he tugged at our heart strings with Dhuan, a collection of short stories that won him Sahitya Akademi Award, while his another anthologies, Raavi Paar and Other Stories, Silences, Raat Pashmine Ki and Autmn Moon, are still finding their way into the hearts and minds of readers, cutting across the age group.
As a poet and lyricist, all that he writes is so uniquely Gulzar, so distinctly Gulzar that his unmistakable stamp is impossible to escape any eye, ardent or casual. When you listen to something like ankhon ki mahakti khusboo, chaand ki peshani se uthta hain dhuan, taweez bana kar pahnoon use, ayat ki tarah mil jaye kahin, tere baton mein kimam ki khushboo hai or sanson se sila hua libaas phoonk de, you know it can be no one else, but Gulzar. For more Gulzar-esque gems, listen to the tracks of films like Masoom, Guddi, Rudali, Lekin, Ijaazat and Dil Se or just flip through Ek Boond Chaand, his first poetry collection, and Raat Chand Aur Main, a collection of trivenis, the three-line poems many of which were rendered in Jagjeet Singh’s melodious voice in the duo’s last album Koi Baat Chale.
“It is all something to do with how you observe and react to the happenings around. Each of us do that differently,” says Gulzar. But the way he does it definitely touches many a chord. Perhaps the manner he does it all has more to do with his gifted sensibility, supreme sensitivity and strong aesthetics, though Gulzar is too modest to put it that way.
One just wonders how many more realms of magic this matchless film-maker and consummate craftsperson is waiting to weave, unfold.
Even as he is all set to take us on a delectable trip down the ‘lyric lane’ in Subhash Ghai’s Yuvraaj (it’s A.R. Rahman’s music, so the ‘magic’ will undoubtedly take a different ‘meaning’), Gulzar dips his pen into the past’s inkpot for Two Tales of My Times: New Delhi Times and Maachis, published by Rupa & Co. and released at the recently concluded World Book Fair.
“It is an attempt to record my times,” says Gulzar about the book, which brings together two of his hard-hitting film scripts which became the statements on celluloid. The Sharmila Tagore-Shashi Kapoor-starrer New Delhi Times, directed by Ramesh Sharma, was Gulzar’s observation of the common man trying to cope with the cancer of corruption eating into the body politic during the Eighties. In Maachis, feauturing Tabu, Om Puri, Kulbhushan Kharbanda and Jimmy Shergil, Gulzar hit us hard with his look at terrorism.
“I bring these stories in the form of a narrative. Like my biography of Ghalib, Mirza Ghalib: A Biographical Scenario, also published by Rupa & Co, this is also written in the form of a scenario. So, while the narration is based on the films, I have left it to the readers to draw their own images while reading these two stories,” states Gulzar, who after his eponymous serials on Mirza Ghalib and Prem Chand is planning to tap into Tagore’s ‘treasure trove.’
Gulzar has been a witness to the troubled times, the most tragic of all being the Partition. And New Delhi Times and Maachis are just the two impressions from his well of observations, many of which have found their way to films which he has scripted and directed. And he aims to rummage into the well of his vast oeuvre. How about Khushboo and Ijaazat or Aandhi and Hu Tu Tu? Well, the maverick writer may soon start working on them. Till then, we can do with the enormous body of his works.