Gulzar lauds new age directors
Veteran poet-filmmaker Gulzar has never been in awe of the shenanigans of the rich and mighty. His films, like those of many of his middle-of-the- road fellow travellers of the 1970s, have always been about the family next door. Nobody in Bollywood today is, therefore, happier than him to see a resurgence of the cinema of the middle class.
“Boys like Rakeysh (Mehra), Vishal (Bhardwaj) and Shaad (Ali) know the nooks and crannies of India,” says Gulzar. “Their sensibility is rooted in middle class India and that is abundantly reflected in the energy and vitality of their films.”
He is thoroughly impressed with Rang De Basanti, the film of the year so far. “I can see the Mere Apne boys in the characters etched out by Rakeysh Mehra in RDB,” Gulzar says. “These boys belong to different generation but they have the same aspirations, the same problems, the same frustrations, the same aberrations.”
As the Mehra and his tribe thrive, Gulzar is also eagerly awaiting the imminent launch of Meghna Gulzar’s second directorial venture, Honeymoon, to which he has, needless to say, contributed lyrics.
“It’s also about the middle class,” he says. “Two strangers, both careerists, are thrown together into arranged matrimony. The film revolves around what happens on their honeymoon.”
Honeymoon, starring Fardeen Khan and Esha Deol and produced by Pritish Nandy Communications, is slated to roll in April.
“Honeymoon is a light-hearted but realistic film,” says Gulzar. “It presents an unusual take on marriage.” Meghna may have learnt the ropes from her father, but Gulzar believes that she has a stylistic identity of her own.
Gulzar also has high expectations from Vishal Bhardwaj’s Omkara, a reworking of William Shakespeare’s tragic play, Othello. “I have read the script. It’s a really unusual film,” he says. Omkara, starring Ajay Devgan, Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor, is set in the underworld and the entire action is set in and around the town of Meerut.
Gulzar was in Chennai recently to record the songs of Mani Ratnam’s next film, Guru, with AR Rahman. “He is a wonderfully innovative and amazingly hard-working composer,” says the veteran lyricist. “Working with him is a great experience.”
Gulzar has been in the news lately for all the popular awards that have been swept by the uncharacteristic lyrics that he penned for Kajra re, an item number in Shaad Ali’s smash hit film, Bunty Aur Babli, Kajra re. “Serious poetry would have been out of place here,” he says. “The song is inspired primarily by the lines that one sees written on trucks speeding up and down the highways in north India.”
The language that he has used in Kajra re is the language of the characters of the film, explains Gulzar. “Remember that the female protagonist is from a Punjabi family,” he says. “She throws around a smattering of English because her ambition is to be a beauty pageant contestant. The boy, too, is a small town guy in a hurry to get ahead in life.”
Though some Gulzar fans are surprised at his use of English words in the Bunty Aur Babli number, he points out that this isn’t the first time that he has done something of this sort. “I suppose it’s because the song is such a huge hit that people are scrutinising it so closely,” he says.
“In any case, this is the language that the new generation speaks – a mix of Hindi and English,” says Gulzar. “One has to move with the times. If you don’t, you’d be in danger of being left behind.”
But that is one threat Gulzar the lyricist has never faced. For there is nobody in the business who can mix the language of poetry with the lingo of everyday life with quite the sort of effortless felicity that he always brings to the job of writing songs for Hindi films.