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Gulzar: Songs of a true poet

Every lyric penned by him constitutes a milestone, writes Saibal Chatterjee.

entertainment Updated: Sep 07, 2005 18:59 IST
Saibal Chatterjee | Wide Angle
Saibal Chatterjee | Wide Angle

In an era of rough and ready rhymesters, he is a genuine master of lyrical verse. The inimitable Gulzar is a poet first. He resonates. Most other Bollywood lyricists merely drone.

Gulzar has, sadly, gone off the boil as a filmmaker since the box office debacle of Hu Tu Tu, which was released way back in 1999. But over the six years since then, the consummate weaver of words and quirky metaphors has retained his lofty perch on the popularity charts.

Every masterly lyric that Gulzar has penned in recent times has constituted a magical Mumbai movie milestone. What has set him apart from the general run of Hindi film lyricists is the fact that he has managed to sustain his enormous popularity without subjugating his poetic sensibilities to the demands of the market.

It takes a true-blue artist to achieve the fine balance between mass acceptance and creative integrity. Gulzar has done just that with consistent success.

"Kajra re kajra re tere kaare kaare naina", the peppy song that he wrote for Shaad Ali’s Bunty Aur Babli, one of the biggest commercial successes of 2005, is on the lips of every Indian moviegoer who can hum a mean number. But by no stretch of the imagination is the song devoid of Gulzar’s trademark lyricism and poetic derring-do. Which other lyricist could have thrown in a line like “aankhen bhi kamala karti hai/personal se sawaal karti hain” into a Hindi film lyric so seamlessly?

The number is a worthy addition to the long list of wonderful alliterative lyrics that Gulzar has written in recent years – Chappa chappa charkha chale for Maachis, Chal chhaiyan chaiyyan for Mani Ratnam’s Dil Se, Chhai chappa chhai chhapa ke chhai for Hu Tu Tu and Aye udi udi udi aye khwaabon ke pudi for Saathiya.

Gulzar has carved a permanent place for himself in the hearts of the post-liberalisation generation of Hindi moviegoers with these remarkable songs, but his own heart still lies exactly where it did when he started his career as one of Mumbai cinema’s most accomplished wordsmiths in the early 1960s with that immortal ditty, Mera gora ang lai le, for Bimal Roy’s classic Bandini.

First Published: Sep 01, 2005 11:16 IST