A man who has seen it all and written it all, Gulzar in his signature white kurta pyjamas, enters the exhibition area of the 11th Osians Film Festival at Siri Fort. He looks around observantly at every film poster displayed there - most of them being the movies he directed. He nostalgically remembers those moments in an interaction later. He reminisces, "It took me down those memory lanes that I had left behind in the time trail, it somehow reminds me of how old I am."
Priya Rajendran catches up with lyricist-filmmaker-poet, who was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Osians, a few moments ago...
What is the difference between the era gone past and the present in terms of audience exposure to world cinema?
The tradition of film festivals has come a long way. I was exposed to world cinema back in 1952, when a film festival had been organised. Filmmakers across the world came and showcased their country's films. After 1952, the next film festival was hosted 20 years later in 1972. Now, there are more international film festivals. More filmmakers are showing an inherent interest to direct meaningful films - especially for world peace, sustainable development and of course, sustainable cinema (low-budget, short duration films). Unlike the earlier era, emphasis is being laid on direction, photography, and screen plays.
As a director, in what way do you think screenplays have changed over the years?
Earlier in the United States, a booklet on screenplays called '20 American screenplays' was introduced - which eventually became a bible for filmmakers. For instance, a film called 'America, America' - its screenplay came first and later the film was released. Screenplay publication today has become popular in our film industry and is another step to cinema education and popularising cinema literature amongst budding filmmakers who do research in film schools today.
A person associated with films, how do you acknowledge yourself as an educator?
I think I can teach by exposing learners to what I have learnt in my lifetime. As far as I am concerned, the language of cinema has changed. Even techniques, for instance, to introduce the audience to a flashback, the screen would either be turned like the page of a book or the screen would waver. But today audiences are much more aware and modern, they demand better screen techniques for the same.
Do you guide Meghna in her projects?
No way, she is a self-willed, independent entity by herself. She loves working in her own style. In fact, she is also a strong critic of all my works - gives me suggestions to improve my films! She is a stern director too and hates my interference. I simply write lyrics for the songs in her movies - according to the way she wants.
Any of her upcoming movies?
Meghna is shooting a short documentary on autistic children and I have written the lyrics for the track in it. She was here in Delhi for the same. It has a montage of these special children in the background too.
You have stopped directing movies. Is it because you are saddened by the increasing commercialisation that has crept in the industry?
What do you mean by commercialisation? Do you mean to say all of you want to see 'bail gaadis' (bullock carts) in the rocket age? Let's get real and admit that we cannot go retro in this modern age. We need to move ahead with time and the demand is that of fast-paced numbers. Spicy numbers like 'Beedi' worked with the audience and so I have to write lyrics that befit this century. Yes, the fact is that I have started concentrating on poetry and writing more. Filmmaking is a 24-hour affair and consumes my time. So, my priorities are different now and they change with age too. I have become aged now and try to do things at a slower pace. For me, writing has been my first love too.
About your books for children...
Recently, I wrote a book and also rendered my voice to a CD on Karadi Tales.
Your parting shot...
(Smiles) Poetry came first, literature is my passion, and I am back to writing books!