Meet the writer who penned down lives: Gulzar

Anagha Telang

His writings have inspired many. Whatever he writes subtly turns into a work of magic. From poems to short stories, from film stories to shayaris, from lyrics to powerful dialogues, he has a creative touch of his own on every genre and style of writing.
This maestro Sampooran Singh Kalra  popularised through his  pen name "Gulzar" is celebrating his 84th birth anniversary on Saturday. 
Let us take a sneak-peak into his life journey.

Initial Life
  • He was born on 18 August, 1934 at Jhelum district, in British India (now Pakistan).
  • His original name is sampooran singh Kalra and 'GULZAR' is his pen name.
  • In school, he read translations of Tagore's work and call it as the turning point of his life.
  • His family split due to partition and he had to discontinue  his studies and come to Bombay to support them. 
  • He took up many odd jobs in Bombay  to earn a living, including one at a garage at Vichare motors on Bellasis road.
  • There he used to touch up accident-damaged cars by mixing shades of paint.
  • He once said, "I had a knack for colors".
  • His father didn't allow him to persue writing so he adopted a pen name 'GULZAR DENVI' which later changed to 'GULZAR'.

Beginning of the  writing career

As a lyricist

  • He was first encouraged by Shailendra and Bimal roy to join films. 
  • He began his film career under famous directors Bimal Roy & Hrishkesh  Mukherjee.
  • In the year 1963 he started his career under music director S.D. Burman in the movie 'BANDINI.'
  • In the year 1968 he wrote dialouges and lyrics for the film 'ASHIRWAD.'
  • Being a lyricist he had a great bonding with renowned music directors such as S.D. Burman, R.D. Burman, Shankar Jai Kishan, Lakshmikant Pyarelal, Rajesh Roshan, Anu Malik, A.R. Rehman and others. 
As a Director

  • In the year 1971 Gulzar directed his first film 'Mere Apne.' 
  • Followed by Parichay & Koshish.
  • In 1973, he directed Achanak, inspired by the 1958 murder case KM Nanavati v State of Maharashtra.
  • Later he directed Aandhi, based on the Hindi novel "Kaali Aandhi" by Kamleshwar.
  • His next film Khushboo was based on Sharat Chandra's book.
  • In 1988, Gulzar directed an eponymous television serial Mirza Ghalib, starring Naseeruddin Shah and was broadcast on Doordarshan.
  • He also directed Tahreer Munshi Premchand Ki based on the novels of Premchand.
  • None of his films were a commercial success but was critically acclaimed as they were based on stories of human relationships entangled in social issues.
As a Poet & Writer

  • Gulzar basically writes in Urdu & Punjabi.
  • He also have a good command over other languages such as Hindi, Braj Bhasha, Khariboli, Haryanvi and Marwari.
  • 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).
  • Two is Gulzar’s debut novel released in English. It examines the status of refugees after partition. Two was originally written in Urdu.
  • Gulzar wrote the anthem "Nazar Main Rehte Ho", for the peace campaign Aman ki Asha, jointly started by India's and Pakistan's leading media houses. It was sung by Shankar Mahadevan & Rahat Fateh Ali Khan.
  • He has also written ghazals for Ghazal Maestro Jagjit Singh's albums "Marasim" (1999) and "Koi Baat Chale" (2006).
Other works

  • 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 also written stories and poetry for Children  magazine Chakmak.

In April 2013, Gulzar was appointed as the Chancellor of the Assam University.

Personal Life
  • He is married to the famous actress Rakhi.
  • They have a daughter Meghna Gulzar.

  • Meghna is a bollywood Film director and has directed films such as Filhaal, Just Married , Dus Kahaniyaan and Raazi.
  • She has also authored the biography of her father Gulzar, in 2004.

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, 20 Filmfare Awards, one Academy Award and one Grammy Award.

  • 1972 National Film Awards Best Screenplay Screenplay writer Koshish
  • 1972 Filmfare Awards Best Dialogue Dialogue writer Anand
  • 1974 Filmfare Awards Best Dialogue Dialogue writer Namak Haraam
  • 1975 National Film Awards Second Best Feature Film Director Mausam
  • 1975 Filmfare Awards Critics Award for Best Movie Director Aandhi
  • 1976 Filmfare Awards Best Director Director Mausam
  • 1978 Filmfare Awards Best Lyricist Lyricist "Do Deewaane Shehar Mein" from film Gharaonda
  • 1980 Filmfare Awards Best Lyricist Lyricist "Aanewala Pal Jaane Wala Hain" from film Gol Maal
  • 1981 Filmfare Awards Best Lyricist Lyricist "Hazaar Raahen Mud Ke Dekhi" from film Thodisi Bewafaii
  • 1984 Filmfare Awards Best Lyricist Lyricist "Tujhse Naraaz Nahin Zindagi" from film Masoom
  • 1988 National Film Awards Best Lyrics Lyricist "Mera Kuchh Saamaan" from film Ijaazat
  • 1989 Filmfare Awards Best Lyricist Lyricist "Mera Kuchh Saamaan" from film Ijaazat 
  • 1990 Filmfare Awards Best Documentary Director Ustad Amjad Ali Khan
  • 1991 National Film Awards Best Lyrics Lyricist "Yaara Silli Silli" from film Lekin...

  • 1992 Filmfare Awards Best Lyricist Lyricist "Yaara Silli Silli" from film Lekin...
  • 1996 National Film Awards Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment Director Maachis
  • 1996 Filmfare Awards Best Dialogue Dialogue writer Maachis
  • 1996 Filmfare Awards Best Story Story writer Maachis
  • 1999 Filmfare Awards Best Lyricist Lyricist "Chaiyya Chaiyya" from film Dil Se.
  • 2001 Indian Institute of Adv. Studies Lifetime Honorary Fellowship
  • 2002 Sahitya Akademi Award Writer "Dhuan" ("Smoke"); short stories in Urdu
  • 2002 Filmfare Awards Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2013 Filmfare Awards Best Lyricist Lyricist "Challa" from film Jab Tak Hai Jaan
  • 2013 Dadasaheb Phalke Award Poet, Lyricist and Film director
  • 2002 Filmfare Awards Best Dialogue Dialogue writer Saathiya
  • 2003 Filmfare Awards Best Lyricist Lyricist "Saathiya" from film Saathiya

  • 2004 Padma Bhushan
  • 2004 Sahir Award Literary Awad
  • 2006 Filmfare Awards Best Lyricist Lyricist"Kajra Re" from film Bunty Aur Babli

  • 2008 Academy Awards Best Original Song Lyricist "Jai Ho" from film Slumdog Millionaire: Shared with Music Director A. R. Rahman
  • 2011 Filmfare Awards Best Lyricist Lyricist "Dil To Bachcha Hain Ji" from film Ishqiya.
A Letter to Daughter

Gulzar’s letter to his 21-year-old daughter, Meghna, on her graduation is as beautiful as his poems. Brimming with hope for his daughter’s future, the letter reflects on the endless possibilities that await her in the world outside.

"I believe in fate but I also believe that hard work and diligence plays a very important role in our lives. In a larger sense, we all write our own destiny. Take destiny in your own hands, dream of what you want to achieve, and write it in your own way. As you go ahead in life, I want you to climb the path to success one step at a time. Aim for the sky, but move slowly, enjoying every step along the way. It is all those little steps that make the journey complete.
As you go forward, you will sometimes have to take difficult decisions, decisions that others might scorn at. But you must have the courage to stand up for what you believe in. Make sure you have that conviction to do what you know is right, and once you have it, don’t let skeptics distract you from your path.”

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