I am no Gulzar. And can’t be. No one can. Never. But I’ve always wanted to write like him. If there’s anything in the world I want to imitate (no, really) and be proud of it, it’s the way he writes — a cascade of expression that sweeps you off your feet by its immense imaginative quotient, astounding authenticity and superb imagery — deliciously intense, joyously experimental, distinctively modern (he must be the only man of his generation to write in a language that speaks to the rock-addict, pop-loving generation). The man is a genius, no doubt! I have loved his films — from Ijaazat, Aandhi, Koshish, Khushboo, Parichay, Mere Apne, Mausam, Kinara, Kitaab to Libaas, Lekin, Maachis and Hu Tu Tu. I wonder why doesn’t he direct movies any more! Besides the songs of the movies I have just mentioned ( Ijaazat‘s Mera kuch saaman and qatra qatra are among my all-time favourite songs), I have also loved his songs and words in films like Thodi Si Bewafai, Guru, Rain Coat, Dil Se, Saathia, Maqbool, Omkara, Bunty Aur Babli and yes, Slumdog Millionaire (though it was definitely not his best). Kaminey‘s soundtrack is something that is still keeping me hooked, specially meri arzoo kamini and pehli baar muhabbat ki hai. I remember these lines from Rain Coat, he recites with his characteristic cadences: Na din hota hai aur na raat hoti hai, Sabhi kuch ruk gaya hai, Woh kya mausam ka jhonka tha, Jo us deewar pe latki hui tasveer thidchi kar gaya hai. I just love this!
Guru has four lines I am enamored of: Jaage hain der tak hamen kuch der sone do, thodi si raat aur hai subah to hone do, aadhe adhoore khwaab jo pure na ho sake, ek baar phir se neend mein woh khwaab bone do.
There is a short poem he wrote for someone which keeps coming to me whenever I think of him: Tum ne ek mod pe achanak jab, Mujh ko Gulzaar kah ke di aawaz, Ek seepi se khul gaya moti, Mujh ko ek maani mil gaya jaise, Ah yeh naam khoobsoorat hai., Phir mujhe naam se bulaao to! It’s beautiful.
I remember when I met him once I asked how could he manage to put a stamp of sorts on whatever he writes, so much so that it becomes distinctly Gulzar, uniquely Gulzar. He smiled and said, ”We all react to things differently. May be my idiom has to do with the way I react to things in general.”
I noticed how he doesn’t bring himself to think highly of his exceptional talent. He, in fact, underplays his genius. While when you happen to be around him, you are almost tongue-tied, forever looking for the right expression, the right word, the right phrase.
Even when Gulzar panders to the popular taste, he has a class (Kajra Re, Beedi jalaiyele, Namak ishq ka etc). His poetry is like flowers blooming in the desert, like silence breaking into melody on its own.
Besides being a sucker for his songs in films, I also love his ghazals. The two albums that he launched with Jagjit Singh — Maraasim and Koi Baat Chale — has some of his best ghazals. Even now, I often find myself listening to haath choote bhi to rishtey nahin choota kartey, ek purana mausam lauta, ankhon mein jal raha hai kyun bujhta nahi dhuan, woh khat ke purze uda raha tha, shaam se aankh main nami si hai, zindagi yun huyi basar tanha or din kuch aise guzarta hai koi.
Koi Baat Chale has some three-line poems which he calls trivenis. My favourite is the one on Kashmir: Saari waadi udaas baithi hai, mausame gul ne khudkushi kar li, kis ne barood boya baaghon mein.
Sample some other trivenis from the album:
Teri soorat jo basi rahti hai ankhon me sada
Ajnabi log bhi pehchane se lagte hain mujhe
Tere rishton mein to duniya hi piroli main ne.
Ek se ghar hain sabhi ek se hain bashinde
Ajnabi shahr mein kuch ajnabi lagta hi nahin
Ek se dard hain, sab ek se hi rishten hain.
Zindagi kya hai janne ke liye
Zinda rahna bahut zaroori hai
Aj tak koi bhi raha to nahin.
Woh mere saath hi tha door tak magar ek din
Mud ke jo dekha to woh aur mere saath na tha
Jeb phat jaye to kuch sikke bhi kho jaate hain.
Inspired by Gulzar, I have written a couple of trivenis or the three-line poems. Here they are:
Udaas lamhon ne yun jaal bun ke rakha hai
Qafas mein band ho tareek zindagi jaise
Tumhare bin to kahin kuch nazar nahin aata.
(Qafas: prison; tareek: dark)
Har ek lamha hai ek bojh din ke kandhon pe
Kisi maqaam par aakar thahar gayi hai hayaat
Nahin jo tum to nahin kayenaat gardish mein
(maqaam: spot; hayaat: life; kayenaat: universe; gardish: revolving)
Bahut dinon se udaasi ka bol bala tha
Gham-e-hayaat ne ranjoor kar ke rakha tha
Jo tum mile to huyi Eid aarzooon ki
Tumhare honton pe yun khelte hain harf sabhi
Ke jaise phoolon pe shabnam ne ki ho sargoshi
Tumhare lafzon ne mashoor kar diya hai mujhe
sargoshi: whisper; mashoor: entranced
Tumhari ankhon mein sailaab hai umeedon ka
Tumhari palkon mein hai qaid waqt ki harkat
Nazar uthate hi chalta hai kaarvan-e-jahaan
Tere gudaaz badan ki mahakti khushboo ne
Simo liya hai hamen aise ek bandhan mein
Ke jis ko chah kar bhi tod tum nahin sakti.