So this is a post I type, repeatedly stab the backspace button with my vexed finger till the slate is clean again and then save the draft. This has been going on for a few days. Why is it so difficult to write? Because it’s about one of the greatest men I have known in my life.
The other day, a colleague of mine asked me to suggest a nice love song she could listen to. I took one look at her face and suggested her a list that had the likes of ‘Back to Black‘ by Amy Winehouse, ‘Rumor Has It‘ by Adele, ‘My Good Gal‘ by the Old Crow Medicine Show and ‘Loved You Like a Fool‘ by Kiera Knightley from the movie ‘Begin Again‘. Another colleague watching this, turned to me and challenged me to suggest her something that she’d want to listen to. I looked at her and suggested her a few soft, sentimental Bollywood numbers. Soon, both of them were completely entranced in the songs. In that tiny bit of success, I already felt like the Mistress of Spices contemporary of music.
That’s when I thought of the man who turned 81 this year on the 18th of August. And why did I think of him? Because he’s the one who has created, from scratch, songs that capture the souls of people across generations and touch their hearts. Songs that tell people of varied ages that there is poetry of every kind and every language that understands exactly what you’re feeling.
A lot of other writers, who have witnessed the partition of their country or wars, can’t help but write about it almost all the time. Here is a man who wrote about everything from partition and war, to love, relationships, separation, seasons, moods, moments, childhood, politics, seduction, item numbers, lullabies, betrayal, God, dreams, reality, family, friendship, calamities, death, life seen from a hundred thousand different perspectives and basically the range is infinite.
When I tell people I’m a writer, the next question generally is ‘what kind of writer?‘ i.e. poetry, fiction, non-fiction, journalism, plays, lyrics, film scripts – define the genre. You can’t be it all, not really. Which category do you fall into so it’s easier for us to limit, classify and define you?
Well, here is a man who’s done it all. From some of the most beautiful movies like ‘Koshish‘, ‘Ijaazat‘ and even ‘Maachis‘ to plays, books and children’s books, he’s a writer. Period.
And sadly, whatever I write about Gulzar Sahab, my guru and one of my biggest inspirations, doesn’t seem to do even ten percent justice to the person he is.
So I’m going to simply end this post by marveling at the fact that while the rest of the world was penning down ‘My life will never be the same without her/him‘, there is a man who let the world have ‘Jahaan teri edi se dhoop uda karti thi, suna hai us chaukhat pe ab shaam raha karti hai‘.
Belated Happy Birthday, Gulzar Sahab! World, I really hope you, your people and I continue to have him for a long, long time.