Daastan-e-Gulzar: Ek akela is shahar mein

Five months after a successful Annual Penguin Lecture, Penguin was back with Annual Spring Fever at India Habitat Centre, Delhi.  Penguin is raising the bar with each edition of these fests. Calling renowned authors, popular writers etc, basically the ones behind the strong literature culture of India, Penguin has carved a name for itself.

22nd March 2015, the Saturday evening saw the greatest poet and lyricist in India, Sampooran Singh Kalra, also known as Gulzar treat the Delhites to an evening platter of lyrics and cinema. It was the occasion of the preview of his new book ‘Another 100 Lyrics’. A jam packed audience gave standing ovation as Gulzar walked to the stage in his typical attire- white kurta-pyjama.


And the evening began with a mesmerizing song by Shaheen. The man himself, Gulzar praised her and Shaheen’s happiness was evident with the big gleaming smile she had on her face. Udayan Mitra, editor of Penguin India, started the session by introducing  Gulzar and said,  “A person who has penned lyrics for Bimal Roy as well as Vishal Bhardwaj, he has been in this industry for a long span and we all have loved him as director, poet, lyricist and screen-writer.”  Gulzar was at his humorous best as he replied instantly, that just shows his age and the fact that he is an antique piece.


With this, the people present knew that they were there for a gala time. With some selected songs from the new and the older book- 100 Lyrics, translations by Sunjoy Shekhar were to be read. And thus Gulzar’s life, his journey, ups and downs, hurdles were touched upon. To the question of difference between poetry and lyrics, Gulzar said that these are not different, because the same poetry is in the lyrics one writes, though a poem and lyrics of a song differ. A poem makes sense individually whereas lyrics might not. Lyrics depict a scene, a story behind it. Soon the song clippings and translations began. With each song clipping, the audience kept lip singing and tapping their foot. Gulzar kept smiling and praising the tracks as they were played. The humility and innocence of the 80 year old man sitting there touched everyone. Each song unfolded a new story of Gulzar’s life. Incident of Pancham saying ‘Kal TOI ka column le aaoge, toh thodi music daal dunga’, when Gulzar gave him the lyrics for Mera kucch samaan, and then recording the whole song in one go. Speaking of how Vishal Bhardwaj has been a big support for him, helping him understand the nuances of this generation. He is the reason; Gulzar has easily stepped into this era of cinema as well and made his name. From Chod aaye hum woh gaaliyan to Bismil in Haider, this duo has given the industry some of the biggest tracks.

Gulzar was at his chirpiest best, having a great time. The zeal with which he recited the lyrics whenever the audience asked him to, the humour he added when Sunjoy discussed the difficulties of translating, his eye contact with every person present there for him, made the evening. The aura the man created for that hour and half is still with all. As a person also he had a lot to teach. Even with the greatness he has achieved, he was humble and was never ready to accept the mediocrity of even himself. Each song, lyrics, film etc had credits and appreciation for every person involved, taking the least for him.


It was the night of bioscope majorly. Touching on the similarities and differences in the years of cinema, he went into yesteryear of shooting images and montage for films and setting song ahead of the shots. And comparing it with Rahman who told Mani to shoot his images to which he will set the instruments and music. Gulzar easily accepted the present generation who is ready to face challenges, even actors’ change and adapt as per the roles even if requires physically. Change in music with which he has had to keep changing, from writing only for the lead pair, to penning down words for the side actors, to using the language of the character to show his feelings and honesty. And truly this successful man has never let his achievements become a hindrance and that’s the reason he is and has always been at the peak.


With songs, laughs and lots of Gulzar the evening came to an end. The audience like a small child insisted for just five more minutes of him. And even towards the end this person had his humour intact, by saying, “You are behaving and reminding me of young grandson, who keeps asking for five more minutes to play”.  And with a new nazm of his, he ended the session only to allow for a closer entry into his aura circle. As the book signing began, the line became longer and longer and Gulzar kept turning his pens to autograph books and etch the day in the memories of his fans.



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