‘Gulzar is a walking encyclopedia and has an infectious smile’

Mumbai-based screenwriter and lyricist Javed Siddiqui, giving a little insight into their friendship and Gulzar’s life.

Hyderabad: Eminent poet-lyricist Sampooran Singh Kalra, popularly known by his pen-name Gulzar, turned 86 on Tuesday. His illustrious career spans over six decades and he is one of the country’s finest writers in Urdu and Hindi. Born in Dina (now in Pakistan), some of his most famous novels, ‘Two’ and ‘Footprints on Zero Line’, revolve around the partition of India and Pakistan.

While Gulzar remains a personality par excellence, however, very little is known about his personal life. Mumbai-based screenwriter and lyricist Javed Siddiqui, giving a little insight into their friendship and Gulzar’s life, said that the renowned writer-lyricist is a man of discipline, apart from having an “infectious smile”.

Recollecting their friendship years, Javed Siddiqui said, “I knew him for more than 40 years now, but our bond grew stronger because my son-in-law Salim Areef worked as Gulzar Saab’s chief assistant in films. My children also call him ‘baba.’”

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Siddiqui added that Gulzar even to this day wakes up early in the morning and exercises for at least an hour or plays tennis. “He has a regular schedule in his office, which is inside the premises of his home,” he pointed out. Moreover, Gulzar, according to Siddiqui, is also a bit reserved. But is very “very jolly” with his friends and family.

“When he talks, he is an intellectual, like a walking encyclopedia,” he said when asked about the kind of person Gulzar is. Unfortunately, the two friends have not met in a while due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “We haven’t met since the COVID-19 restrictions are in place. He also wrote a lot during the lockdown, especially about the pandemic and the issues migrants faced,” said Siddiqui.

Lyricist Siddiqui said it is highly impossible for him to select one favorite piece of Gulzar. “All his words are par excellence,” he added.

Awards and AccoladesGulzar worked with music composers across generations, including RD Burman, SD Burman, Shankar Jaikishan, Hemant Kumar, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Madan Mohan, Rajesh Roshan, Anu Malik, Vishal Bhardwaj, AR Rahman, and Shankar–Ehsaan–Loy. As a director, Gulzar has helmed a handful of award-winning movies like Mere Apne, Parichay, Koshish, Achanak, Aandhi, Khushboo, Mausam, Angoor, Maachis, and Hu Tu Tu.

Apart from others, Gulzar has won 5 National Film Awards and 21 Filmfare Awards. Slumdog Millionaire’s song “Jai Ho” got him an Academy Award for Best Original Song and a Grammy Award. Gulzar received the Padma Bhushan in 2004, and Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2013.

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