Sampooran Singh Kalra (born 18 August 1934), known popularly by his pen name Gulzar and also Gulzar Saab, is an Oscar-winning Indian film director, lyricist and poet. Born in Jhelum District in British India (now in Pakistan) his family moved to India after partition. He started his career with music director S.D. Burman as a lyricist in the 1963 film Bandini and worked with many music directors including R. D. Burman, Salil Chowdhury, Vishal Bhardwaj and A. R. Rahman. He was awarded Padma Bhushan in 2004, the third-highest civilian award in India, the Sahitya Akademi Award and the Dadasaheb Phalke Award — the highest award in Indian cinema. He has won several Indian National Film Awards, 21 Filmfare Awards, one Academy Award and one Grammy Award. He also wrote the theme song for Motu Patlu, an Indian animated sitcom.
Gulzar at the launch of Jagjit Singh's album Tera Bayaan Ghalib
Sampooran Singh Kalra
18 August 1934
|Occupation||Film director, lyricist, screenwriter, producer, poet, author|
|Years active||1971–99 (as director) (retired)|
1956–present (as lyricist)
Raakhee (m. 1973)
|Parent(s)||Makhan Singh Kalra and Sujan Kaur|
|Awards||Padma Bhushan (2004), Dadasaheb Phalke Award (2013), Academy Award for Best Original Song (2008)|
Gulzar was born in a Kalra Sikh family, to Makhan Singh Kalra and Sujan Kaur, in Dina, Jhelum District, British India (present-day Pakistan). In school, he had read translations of the works of Tagore which he recounted as one of his life's many turning points. Due to the partition, his family split and he had to stop his studies and come to Mumbai (then called Bombay) to support his family. Sampooran took up many small jobs in Mumbai to eke out a living, including one at a garage at Vichare motors on Bellasis road (Mumbai). There he used to touch up accident-damaged cars by mixing shades of paint, in his own words "I had a knack for colours". His father rebuked him for being a writer initially. He took the pen name Gulzar Deenvi and later simply Gulzar. In an interview with Rajyasabha TV, he recounted enjoying his work as a painter as it allowed him a lot of time to simultaneously read, write, attend college and be involved with the PWA (Progressive writers association).
It was during his interactions in the PWA Sunday meetings that Shailendra and Bimal Roy encouraged him to join films. Gulzar began his career under film directors Bimal Roy and Hrishikesh Mukherjee. His book Ravi Paar has a narrative of Bimal Roy and the agony of creation. He started his career as a songwriter with the music director Sachin Dev Burman for the movie Bandini (1963). In films, he found an environment associated with literature in the group he worked with, including Bimal Roy, most of whose films were based on literary works. Shailendra, who has penned the rest of the songs in the movie requested Gulzar to write the song "Mora Gora Ang Layle", sung by Lata Mangeshkar.
Directed and produced by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, the 1968 film Aashirwad had dialogues and lyrics written by Gulzar. Song lyrics and poems written by Gulzar gave the poetic attribute and the "much-needed additional dimension" to Ashok Kumar's role in the film. Ashok Kumar received the Best Actor at the Filmfare and at the National Film Awards for this role. Gulzar's lyrics, however, did not gain much attention until 1969's Khamoshi, where his song "Humne Dekhi Hai Un Aankhon Ki Mehekti Khushboo" (lit., "I have seen the fragrance of those eyes") became popular. Ganesh Anantharaman in his book Bollywood Melodies describes Gulzar's lyrics, with the purposeful mixing of the senses, to be "daringly defiant". For the 1971 film Guddi, he penned two songs, of which "Humko Man Ki Shakti Dena" was a prayer which is still sung in many schools in India.
As a lyricist, Gulzar had a close association with the music director Rahul Dev Burman. He has also worked with Sachin Dev Burman, Shankar Jaikishan, Hemant Kumar, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Madan Mohan, Rajesh Roshan, and Anu Malik. Gulzar worked with Salil Chowdhury in Anand (1971) and Mere Apne (1971); Madan Mohan in Mausam (1975), and more recently with Vishal Bhardwaj in Maachis (1996), Omkara (2006) and Kaminey (2009); A. R. Rahman in Dil Se.. (1998), Guru (2007), Slumdog Millionaire (2008) and Raavan (2010) and Shankar–Ehsaan–Loy in Bunty Aur Babli (2005). Gulzar took inspiration from Amir Khusrow's "Ay Sarbathe Aashiqui" to pen "Ay Hairathe Aashiqui" for Mani Ratnam's 2007 Hindi film Guru, which had music composed by A. R. Rahman. Another Ratnam-Rahman hit, "Chaiyya Chaiyya" from Dil Se.. also had lyrics written by Gulzar, based on the Sufi folk song "Thaiyya Thaiyya", with lyrics by poet Bulleh Shah. For another collaboration with Rahman for Danny Boyle's 2007 Hollywood film Slumdog Millionaire, Rahman and Gulzar won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for "Jai Ho" at the 81st Academy Awards. The song received international acclaim and won him a Grammy Award (shared with Rahman) in the category of Grammy Award for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media. He also wrote a song for the Pakistani Drama Shehryar Shehzadi, and this song Teri Raza, has been sung by Rekha Bhardwaj and was composed by Vishal Bhardwaj.
After writing dialogues and screenplay for films such as Aashirwad, Anand and Khamoshi, Gulzar directed his first film Mere Apne (1971). The film was a remake of Tapan Sinha's Bengali film Apanjan (1969). Meena Kumari played the lead role of Anandi Devi, an old widow caught in between the local fights of unemployed and tormented youngsters. Anandi Devi's death in one of the fights makes them realise the futility of violence. The film was rated "Above Average" at the box office. He then directed Parichay and Koshish. Parichay was based on a Bengali novel, Rangeen Uttarain by Raj Kumar Maitra and inspired from the Hollywood film The Sound of Music. He wrote the story of Koshish based on the struggle faced by a deaf-dumb couple wherein Sanjeev Kumar won National Film Award for Best Actor. In 1973, he directed Achanak, inspired by the 1958 murder case KM Nanavati v State of Maharashtra, and the story writer Khwaja Ahmad Abbas earned a Filmfare nomination for Best Story. Later he directed Aandhi, based on the Hindi novel "Kaali Aandhi" by Kamleshwar. Along with various wins and nominations, the film also won Filmfare Critics Award for Best Movie. Although the film was believed to be based on the life of former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the film was based on life of Tarkeshwari Sinha. In the 1975's emergency, the film was banned from theatres. His next film Khushboo was based on Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay's Pandit Mashay. His Mausam, which won the National Award for 2nd Best Feature Film, Filmfare Best Movie and Filmfare Best Director awards, along with other six Filmfare nominations, was loosely based on the story "Weather", from the novel, The Judas Tree, by A.J. Cronin. His 1982 film Angoor was based on Shakespeare's play The Comedy of Errors.
His films told stories of human relationships entangled in social issues. Libaas was a story of an extra-marital affair of an urban couple. Due to its objectionable subject, the film never got released in India. Mausam pictured a story of a father who tries to improve the life of his prostitute-daughter. In Maachis, a young Punjabi boy engages in terrorism to fight a bad situation only to realise its temporary nature. Hu Tu Tu dealt with corruption in India and how a man decides to fight it.
Gulzar uses "flashback" in the narration of his stories very effectively (Aandhi, Mausam, Ijaazat, Machis, Hu Tu Tu). He also has mutual partnerships with various actors and other crew. The Gulzar – Sanjeev Kumar partnership resulted in few fine films (Koshish, Aandhi, Mausam, Angoor, Namkeen) which represent Sanjeev Kumar's finest work as an actor. Actors like Jeetendra (Parichay, Khushboo, Kinara), Vinod Khanna (Achanak, Meera, Lekin) and Hema Malini (Khushboo, Kinara, Meera) worked with Gulzar to gain respectability as artists and delivered some of their best and most introspective work in films. R D Burman composed songs for almost all the movies directed by him in the 1970s and the 1980s (Parichay, Khushboo, Aandhi, Angoor, Ijaazat, Libaas). Many of their popular songs were sung by Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle. These include "Musafir Hoon Yaron" (Parichay), "Tere Bina Zindagi Se Koi" (Aandhi), and "Mera Kuch Samaan" (Ijaazat).
In 1988, Gulzar directed an eponymous television serial Mirza Ghalib, starring Naseeruddin Shah and broadcast on Doordarshan. Later he also directed Tahreer Munshi Premchand Ki about the novels of Premchand.
Gulzar primarily writes in Urdu and Punjabi; besides several dialects of Hindi such as Braj Bhasha, Khariboli, Haryanvi and Marwari. His poetry is in the Triveni type of stanza. His poems are published in three compilations; Chand Pukhraaj Ka, Raat Pashminey Ki and Pandrah Paanch Pachattar. His short stories are published in Raavi-paar (also known as Dustkhat in Pakistan) and Dhuan (smoke).
For the peace campaign Aman ki Asha, jointly started by India's and Pakistan's leading media houses, Gulzar wrote the anthem "Nazar Main Rehte Ho", which was recorded by Shankar Mahadevan and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. Gulzar has written ghazals for Ghazal Maestro Jagjit Singh's albums "Marasim" (1999) and "Koi Baat Chale" (2006).
Gulzar has written lyrics and dialogues for several Doordarshan TV series including Jungle Book, Alice in Wonderland, Hello Zindagi, Guchche and Potli Baba Ki with Vishal Bhardwaj. He has more recently written and narrated for the children's audiobook series Karadi Tales. Gulzar is also associated with Aarushi, Eklavya foundation an NGO based in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh working in the field of education. He has written stories and poetry for the magazine Chakmak.
In April 2013, Gulzar was appointed as the Chancellor of the Assam University.
Gulzar is married to actress Raakhee. The couple has a daughter, Meghna Gulzar. Meghna Gulzar grew up with her mother and father and, after completing her graduation in filmmaking from New York University, went on to become a director of films such as Filhaal, Just Married, Dus Kahaniyaan, Talvar and Raazi, and authored the biography of her father Gulzar, in 2004.
Awards and nominations
As on 2019, Gulzar has won a total of 36 awards and honours, including 5 National Film Awards, 21 Filmfare Awards, 1 Academy Award for Best Original Song (2008), 1 Grammy Award (2010), 2002 Sahitya Akademi Award for Urdu, Padma Bhushan (2004), and 2013 Dadasaheb Phalke Award.
- Gulzar (1999). Raavi Paar. Rupa & Co. ISBN 8171673899.
- Gulzar (2001). Dhuan. Sahitya Akademi Publications. ISBN 8126019360.
- Gulzar (2002). Raat Pashmine Ki. Rupa & Co. ISBN 8129102242.
- Gulzar (2003). Kharashein. Radhakrishna Prakashan. ISBN 9788171198498.
- Gulzar (2004). Meera. Radhakrishna Prakashan. ISBN 8171198813.
- Gulzar (2005). Pukhraj. Rupa & Co.
- Gulzar (2005). Triveni. Rupa & Co.
- Gulzar (2006). Autumn Moon. Rupa & Co. ISBN 8129109778.
- Gulzar (2008). Kuchh Aur Nazmein. Radhakrishna Prakashan. ISBN 8171198929.
- Gulzar (2010). Magical Wishes: The Adventures Of Goopy & Bagha. Scholastic. ISBN 8184778449.
- Gulzar (2011). Mirza Ghalib A Biographical Scenario. Rupa & Co. ISBN 8129117177.
- Gulzar (2012). Selected Poems. Penguin. ISBN 0143418211.
- Gulzar (2013). My Favourite Stories : Boskys Panchatantra. Rupa & Co. ISBN 8129121182.
- Gulzar (2013). Half a Rupee Stories. Penguin. ISBN 9780143068792.
- Gulzar (2013). Meelo Se Din. Rupa & Co. ISBN 8129120011.
- Gulzar (2014). Green Poems. Penguin Books India. ISBN 0143422820.
- Gulzar (2017). Suspected Poems. Penguin Books India. ISBN 0670089613.
Two is Gulzar's debut novel released in English. It examines the status of refugees after partition. Two was originally written in Urdu.
Gulzar served as the Script Consultant for the Supremo comic book series by Pammi Bakshi.
- Kabir, Nasreen Munni (2012). In the Company of a Poet: Gulzar in Conversation with Nasreen Munni Kabir. Rainlight Rupa. ISBN 978-81-291-2083-0.
- Chatterjee, Saibal (2007). Echoes and Eloquences: The Life and Cinema of Gulzar. Rupa & Co. ISBN 978-81-291-1235-4.
- Gulzar, Meghna (2004). Because He Is... Rupa & Co. ISBN 81-291-0364-8.
- Amar Chandel (4 January 2004). "The poet as the father". The Tribune. Archived from the original on 27 December 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2011.
- "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Archived (PDF) from the original on 15 November 2014. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
- "Gulzar to get Dadasaheb Phalke award". Indiatoday.in. India Today Group. 12 April 2014. Archived from the original on 3 May 2014. Retrieved 12 April 2014.
- "Gulzar selected for Dadasaheb Phalke Award". The Indian Express. 13 April 2014. Archived from the original on 15 April 2014. Retrieved 14 April 2014.
- Guftagoo - Interview with Gulzar. YouTube. India: Rajyasabha TV. 31 July 2012.
- Meghna Gulzar (2004). Because he is. Rupa & Co.
- "A life in music". The Tribune. 15 March 2009. Archived from the original on 6 July 2013. Retrieved 3 December 2011.
- "The Anupam Kher show". 9 August 2015. Archived from the original on 15 October 2015. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
- "Gulzar: Man Of many seasons". The Times of India. 24 February 2009. Archived from the original on 3 January 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2011.
- Ghosh, Avijit (12 April 2014). "Director-lyricist Gulzar to get Dadasaheb Phalke award". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 15 April 2014. Retrieved 14 April 2014.
- Dinesh Raheja (January 2003). "Aashirwad tugs at the heartstrings". Rediff.com. Archived from the original on 3 May 2014. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
- Anantharaman, Ganesh (2008). Bollywood Melodies: A History of the Hindi Film Song. Penguin Books India. p. 122. ISBN 0143063405. Retrieved 4 May 2014.
- "130 awardees receive the 56th national film awards from President". Press Information Bureau (PIB), India. Archived from the original on 3 May 2014. Retrieved 4 May 2014.
- Gavankar, Nilu (2011). The Desai Trio and the Movie Industry of India. Author House. p. 76. ISBN 9781468599817. Retrieved 4 May 2014.
- "Gulzar: Pancham was an anchor in my life". Screen/Indian Express. 26 June 2010. Archived from the original on 1 July 2010. Retrieved 23 December 2011.
- "Rahman on how the music of Guru was born". The Telegraph. 22 December 2006. Archived from the original on 24 October 2008. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
- "Music, like religion, has a soul. If you get this right, you can have different arrangements". Indian Express. 7 September 2004. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
- "Awards & Honours". www gulzar.info. 2006. Retrieved 17 April 2014.
- "Gulzar honoured with Dadasaheb Phalke Award". Deccan Chronicle. 12 April 2014. Archived from the original on 18 April 2014. Retrieved 17 April 2014.
- "Box Office 1971". Box Office India. Archived from the original on 20 October 2013. Retrieved 4 December 2011.
- Gulzar, Govind Nihalani, Saibal Chatterjee, eds. (2003). Encyclopaedia of Hindi cinema. Encyclopædia Britannica (India). Popular Prakashan. ISBN 978-81-7991-066-5.CS1 maint: uses editors parameter (link)
- "20th National Awards for excellence in Motion Pictures Arts & Science (1972)" (PDF). Directorate of Film Festivals. p. 41. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 30 November 2011.
- "Inspired by Nanavati". HindistanTimes.com. Archived from the original on 18 October 2012. Retrieved 3 December 2011.
- V. Gangadhar (20 July 2001). "Where is reality?". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 2 September 2010. Retrieved 3 December 2011.
- "23rd National Film Festival" (PDF). Directorate of Film Festivals. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 May 2011. Retrieved 30 July 2011.
- "'Rice Plate' brings together Naseer, Shabana". 12 May 2007. Archived from the original on 30 September 2011. Retrieved 3 December 2011.
- "The power game". Rediff.com. 21 January 1999. Archived from the original on 12 July 2015. Retrieved 3 December 2011.
- "Gulzar Profile: Upperstall". Archived from the original on 10 November 2011. Retrieved 3 December 2011.
- "Aman ki Asha". The Times of India. 6 January 2010. Archived from the original on 5 February 2013. Retrieved 4 December 2011.
- "Brushes, bruises and splashes of life". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 3 November 2006. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
- "Behind the Scenes: Karadi Tales". Archived from the original on 28 September 2011. Retrieved 4 December 2011.
- "Moved by special kids' musical feat, Gulzar presents his piano - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
- "Gulzar`s poems raise awareness about struggles of disabled". Zee News. 15 May 2011. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
- "ज़िन्दगी से लबरेज़ एक गुलज़ार शाम 16 को रवींद्र भवन में, नज़्मों और अफसानों में मिलेंगे सवालों के जवाब". Dainik Bhaskar (in Hindi). 14 June 2018. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
- "Lyricist-writer Gulzar appointed chancellor of Assam University". India Today. Mumbai. IAN. 30 April 2013. Archived from the original on 15 April 2014. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
- "Women directors scale Bollywood". BBC News. 21 February 2002. Archived from the original on 6 June 2004. Retrieved 20 December 2013.
- "On the Shelf". The Indian Express. 11 January 2004.
- PTI (30 November 2017). "Two, Gulzar's debut novel in English, brings trauma of Partition 'painfully alive'". Livemint.com. Archived from the original on 9 December 2017. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
- "Remembering Amitabh, the Supremo superhero". Rediff.com.
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