Naam gum jaayega,
Chehra ye badal jaayega,
Meri awaaz hi, pehchaan hai…
Us writers, and I hope that calling myself one isn’t exaggeration, are a strange breed. Our words are the way our souls communicate. Our passions – love, nostalgia, hope, despair – know no other means, than but to be chiselled out on paper, and set in Time. For us, there’s no better introduction. For us, there’s no better eulogy.
Songs are the souls of the films we make. Over the years, as Hollywood started off with musicals, and then deemed them too exorbitant a fancy, the Hindi film industry persevered with melody in its films – literally. Our songs moved beyond our audio systems, they wove themselves into the fabric of our lives. We don’t declare friendship, we sing “Ye dosti…” from ‘Sholay’. We don’t fall in love, we croon “Pyar hua, ikraar hua…” from ‘Shree 420’. Cricket matches aren’t cricket matches if “Chak de! India…” doesn’t play, and victory is incomplete without a rendition of “Jai ho…”. No matter what occassion, we have a Hindi film song for it. And we are goddamn proud of it, sire!
(If you are going to commit the incredulous heresy of disbelieving the above statement, check out Sooraj Barjatya’s ‘Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!‘. That film had an unprecedented 14 songs. Yes, 14 songs, and it ran for 3.5 hours! It remains one of our most-successful films.)
But the reason for starting this series is to honour and celebrate the work of my favourite, and perhaps the greatest, lyricist of all time, Sampooran Singh ‘Gulzar’. And rarely, if ever, have I seen so fulfilled a name – ‘sampooran’ means complete.
I will not venture to narrate a biography, nor try to paint a picture of his greatness. I don’t know much about him, his life, other than facts that are already common knowledge. However, I believe that in reading a person, we become intimate with him. Know of his joys and sorrows, in his words, and meet the forces and faces that change his universe. In reading a person, we, in small measures, become closer to him than we ever will. A sort of camaraderie, a bond. This series will have the lyrics of my favourite Gulzar numbers from the movie, only limited by the fact that I haven’t still had the chance to listen to all his work. I wanted, for readers of this blog who don’t know Hindi, to come up with a translation. But you can’t really capture the essence, the soul, of a work in a language other than the one it has been written in. And, quite frankly, I’m too damn knowledge-less to even attempt to convert one bloody couplet of his.
Regardless, ladies and gentleman, allow me to introduce to you, the magnificent Gulzar!