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Lyricist / Dialogue Writer / Screenwriter Hindi


Gulzar Biography

Birth Name: Sampooran Singh Kalra

Born : 18 August 1934, in Dina, Punjab, British India (now in Punjab, Pakistan)

Gulzar’s enduring appeal across five decades is testimony to his popularity as a lyricist, writer and filmmaker. While rooted in everyday life, his work has a philosophical dimension filtered through an empathetic worldview. Who would have thought that the man was once studying to be a Chartered Accountant and started his adult life as a garage mechanic? Born in Dina, Pakistan, his family moved to Delhi after the Partition. He started writing poetry from a young age and joined the Progressive Writers’ Association. When he moved to Bombay he joined Bimal Roy as assistant and made his debut with Bandini (1963), where he wrote the lyrics for his first song in a film, “Mora gora ang lai le.” The influence of Roy and his other mentor, Hrishikesh Mukherjee is palpable in Gulzar's cinema. For Mukherjee he wrote some of the best films of his career— Guddi (1971), Anand (1971) and Namak Haram (1973), both of which won him the the Filmfare Award for the Best Dialogue Writer, and Chupke Chupke (1975). Later he also penned screenplays for Shekhar Kapur’s Masoom (1983) and Ramesh Sharma’s New Delhi Times (1986) amongst several others. Gulzar made his directorial debut with Mere Apne (1971), the story of an old woman (Meena Kumari) caught between two violent gangs of unemployed youth. Parichay (1972) was loosely inspired by The Sound of Music (1965) and started his long and fruitful association with Sanjeev Kumar. In Koshish (1972), Kumar and Jaya Bachchan play a deaf-mute couple trying to build a happy family life against the odds. His biggest talent as a filmmaker is his ability to sketch nuanced relationships. He understands the intricacies and complexities of love as well as the anguish of separation and misgivings about failed opportunities.

In Mausam (1975), Sharmila Tagore played a memorable double role as mother and daughter. The use of the flashback has been a unique feature of Gulzar’s cinema. He is also among the few filmmakers who have consistently created interesting women characters infused with the twin virtues of silence and articulate expression. Kusum in Khushboo (1975) and Maya in Ijaazat (1986) are among his most memorable apart from Aarti in Aandhi (1975) and Kajli in Mausam (1975). Despite being a fine writer, Gulzar has consistently drawn inspiration from other works of literature.

His fruitful collaboration with the renowned music director R. D. Burman went on beyond their work in cinema, and their songs have acquired a life way past the function of servicing narratives. Unlike many who are unable to keep step with the times, Gulzar has adapted himself to contemporary cinema, and has written some of the catchiest numbers of recent times including “Kajra re” from Bunty Aur Babli (2005), “Jai ho” from Slumdog Millionaire (2008), and “Ibn-E-Batuta” from Ishqiya (2010). He most recently wrote lyrics for the award winning film Haider (2014) and Talvar (2015).

He is also a prolific writer of fiction and poetry and won the Sahitya Akademi Award for his short story “Dhuan” in 2002. He was also the recipient of the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for his contribution to Indian cinema in 2014.

Family Tree

Rakhee Gulzar (1973)