Congratulations are in order for you Gulzar sahab and naturally so. A big one from me and my family. It's time for you to live up to the success that you've well earned. Mein bahut khush hun ki itna bada award aapko mila. Yeh bahut kam logon ko milta hai. (I'm very happy that you've been honoured with this coveted award as very selected people are qualified for this honour).
On such occasions,one tends to revisit some lovely memories. My first song with you (as a lyricist) was `mera gora ang lei le' from the film Bandini by Bimol Roy. The track was composed by S D Burman who I lovingly referred to as dada. I vividly remember that phase when dada and I were fighting and were not in talking terms. So much so that I stopped singing for him. Suddenly one day I get a call from him in his usual Bengali coated Hindi asking me to come over. "Lota, ghor aao, tumhare liye ek gana hai. Ek naya ladka ne likha hai, bahut accha likhta hai. (Come over Lata. There's a nice song for you written by a new boy. He seems to be a good writer.)
I went over and met all of you, recorded the song which went on to become quite popular. Slowly, we got to know each other. And the rest as you know is a musical history.
Lending my voice to your lyrics has been an honour. The power of your writing was very deep and identifiable. Like every singer, I too occasionally felt that you wrote certain songs for me. I could be wrong, but kabhi kabhi mujhe aisa lagta tha. I felt especially the song 'naam gum jayega... meri awaaz hi pechan hai' (Kinara, 1977) was written for me.
Trying to recollect my favourite song from your rich and vast repertoire as a lyrist would be very difficult but I think 'surmayee shyam' from Lekin, the lovely film you directed, would be one of my all-time favourites. I dueted it with Suresh Wadekar. There're other songs as well but the songs from your film Maachis (1996) are equally heartfelt. Your poetries have a very surreal quality; it just elevates a simple composition to a different level. Equally remarkable is your knowledge about music. You have unwittingly guided me a lot and I owe you for that one. Aap Hindi cinema ke hi nahi, balki yeh waqt ke ek behtereen kavi hai. (You're one of the finest writer not just of Hindi cinema but of all time).
On a personal note, we share a close bonding. I consider you like my brother. We dined together at each other's house and spent long hours randomly chatting over cups of tea. I can never forget that you would make me laugh so much. Even today, when I recall your straight faced humour I burst out laughing on my own. Do you remember once when I was generally sharing an anecdote with you about, I said: "Huge water well in the backyard of our Kolhapur house was abandoned because someone committed suicide in it." I threw up a random question: "How can someone just jump into that huge well?" You simply looked at me and replied, "Of course, how can anyone have the right to jump into the huge well located in the compound. It's your house, your well, so it was justifiably your and only your right to jump into the well." At first I missed the humour in the joke. But see, I still remember it with a smile.
Success comes to those who have worked hard. They deserve it. Gulzar sahab, congratulation once again.
(As told to Afsana Ahmed)