Spreading the fragrance
Spreading the fragrance, Dadasaheb Phalke Award, Sampooran Singh Kalra aka Gulzar. Not the kind to crib at constantly being ignored for the exalted decoration, he, in fact, was human enough to admit that ‘the award has come at the most appropriate time in my life.’
Gulzar, as his name stands, has indeed been a garden where beautiful flowers of verse blossom and spread their fragrance. The recently announced Dadasaheb Phalke Award for this writer, lyricist, director, screenplay writer and poet is evidently a well-deserved one
It has been a classic case of better late than never. Sampooran Singh Kalra aka Gulzar deserved Indian cinema’s highest accolade, the Dadasaheb Phalke award several years before than being the 84th recipient of the cherished honour. There is no denying the fact that it has come too late in the day.
Not the kind to crib at constantly being ignored for the exalted decoration, he, in fact, was human enough to admit that ‘the award has come at the most appropriate time in my life.’
Rather humble words from a versatile man of letters, whose creative excellence has been the lucidity with which he uses words and the manner he portrays the multitude facets of life that can be understood by just about every person, irrespective of his intelligence quotient.
Gulzar has been an extraordinary achiever. Writer, lyricist, director, screenplay writer and poet all rolled into one. On that count his position will always be up there among the rare breed of classicists for whom excellence was the ultimate, and perhaps the only, yardstick.
The unique aspect of Gulzar has been that he held onto his own despite having started with extraordinary giants like Bimal Roy and working in tandem with the present generation of newcomers, who are no patch on the great filmmakers of the golden period.
The renaissance persona that he carries with rare regality, Gulzar has been in a league unto his own, which is what makes him so compellingly endearing to every section of the audience. Revered for his sublime poetry that elevates one to the platonic phase and helps achieve nirvana, the septuagenarian pens magic in every form of creativity he takes up.
He summed up the collectiveness of his works when he was conferred the Phalke with typical Gulzar finesse-It is a feeling of fulfillment of not one song, screenplay, but the total work one does. I feel blessed.
Not many from Bollywood have been blessed with the opportunity of being associated with the gems of every successive generation. Among the chosen few, Gulzar has worked as assistant to legends like Bimal Roy, Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Hemant Kumar before going on to carve a niche that puts him in the same league of those men of eminence, the likes of whom we may never get to see in eons to come.
Gulzar is cast more in the mould of Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Guru Dutt, the two masters who learnt their craft from the scratch, which was the reason they could deliver masterpieces every now and then.
Well what do we get when a magical genius like Hrishida or Asit Sen collaborates with an emerging prodigy? All-time classics like ‘Anand’, ‘Bawarchi’, ‘Guddi’, ‘Namak Haram’, ‘Khamoshi’ and ‘Safar’!
The sensitivity and his emotional high continued when he turned director with ‘Mere Apne’, which ranks as the first film in its genre-revolving around street-gang brawls.
‘Bandini’, ‘Aandhi’, ‘Angoor’, ‘Koshish’, ‘Namkeen’, ‘Parichay’, ‘Mausam’, ‘Achanak’, ‘Kinara’, ‘Khushboo’, ‘Ijjazat’, ‘Hum Kissise kum nahin’, ‘Yaadon ki Baaraat’, ‘Lekin’, ‘Rudaali’, ‘Maachis’ to name but a select few from master’s canvas speak about the acceptance levels he commands, including by the best of composers.
His foray into the small screen and his works for children stand out for the sheer dexterity of the words and penchant to come up with one directorial gem after the other.
It was this concern for the younger generation and the qualitative decline that he voiced his regret during last year’s Children’s Film Festival that Indians have not been making films for the young audience.
The Sahitya Akademi winner’s greatness is that like the lyricists of an earlier generation, Gulzar was at home while penning haunting melodious or cabaret numbers or the latest item numbers like “Beedi Jalai Le” that had the nation crooning to his tunes, literally speaking. After all, he is unparalleled in the sense that he has won global salutations, including Academy Award and Grammy, which are no mean feats for an Indian.
As a multi-faceted consummate artiste he remains one-of-a-kind, which is why he has actually enriched the roll of honour because he does not belong to any one genre. He will remain eternally integral to cinema. Yes, they don’t make institutions like Gulzar anymore.