Few in Indian cinema today can claim to be called a legend, as rightfully as Sampooran Singh Kalra aka Gulzar does. The 77-year-old Dada Saheb Phalke Award winner of this year, charmed one and all with his quick wit and mesmerising poetry during a recent visit to HT City.
From an 11-year-old who saw the painful partition of India to a 19-year-old garage mechanic in Mumbai, to receiving the ­highest honour in Indian cinema at 77.
Read:Gulzar receives Dada Saheb Phalke award
How would you describe the journey?
Ek maali ki zabaan mein kehta hoon: Hare patte bhi the, sha shabz thi shaadab thi tehni; tasalli tab huyi jab shaakh par ek phool aaya.
Is it true that you’ve been ­writing a book for your daughter on ­every birthday, since she was born?
I started this from her first birthday onwards, ek ­kitaab bachchon ke liye. We have a shortage of good ­children’s ­literature, and authors think ki bachchon ke liye likhna baayein haath ka khel hai. It is not easy, because you need to write in the language that the child speaks in. Main chhotey bachchon ke liye ­likhta hoon toh totli zabaan mein likhta hoon.
How have you managed to keep pace with the new generation?
You have to pace up with time. I don’t want to be looked down at, ki dekho purane buzurg baithe hai. I am happy that this generation has held my hand and taken me along, kyonki mujhe chhodd ke aap jaa nahi sakte. Aur yeh thodi si chaalaki bhi hai, woh sochte hai ki unhone mera haath pakda hua hai aur main jaanta hoon ki maine unka haath pakda hua hai. You have to change with the times. SMS aur Facebook ke zamaane mein dakiya daak laya nahi likh sakta, yeh mein jaanta hoon.
You are a Punjabi and we know Punjabis to be colourful people. Why did you switch over to a white kurta pyjama? Is the dress-code why you didn’t ­attend the Oscars as well?
Oscars mein nahi gaya ­kyunki kaala coat nahi tha (laughs). Zindagi ke sab rang jhad gaye, bas safed reh gaya. College ke zamaane se hi safed bhaa gaya tha. But, I don’t wear a kurta pyjama. I wear regular white trousers with a kurta. Bas abhi yehi libaas hai.
Your fans listen to your songs when they are sad. What does Gulzar listen to, when he is sad?
(laughs) Main koi Bunty aur Babli ka song ya lauta de mera ticket to Hollywood (Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, 2007) sunta hoon. Sad gaane nahi sunta.
What keeps you young?
Young rakhne waale toh aap hai. Aap logo ki zabaan main seekhta hoon. Aloof hokar baithne ki wajah nahi hai. Iss daur mein hoon aur I love this ­generation, aur main unke saath hi rehta hoon. I am best at spoiling kids. I end up indulging them. I am learning a lot from my ­four-year-old grandson. Uska third birthday tha, uskin naani aur daadi use sulaane mein lagi thi. Woh use kahaani suna rahi thi, mooh bana rahi thi, awaaz nikal rahi thi. He later told me that aapas mein jab baat karti hai toh theek lagti hai, mere saamne ­tutlane lagti hai.
- Navdeep Kaur Marwah