The famous literary genius Gulzar needs no introduction in India. And after ‘Jai Ho’ getting the Oscar in 2009, he doesn’t need much of an introduction in most parts of the world! This blogger had the blessed opportunity to be in his august company [with a host of other people] at an event in the national capital.
The Delhi University South Campus organized “A DAY WITH GULZAR SA’AB”, hosted by their INSTITUTE OF LIFE-LONG LEARNING. It was an apt choice of personality in keeping with the spirit of the Institute. Gulzar Sa’ab truly embodies the spirit of ‘learning’ in every sense of the word. An unassuming man of small height, he was simple dressed in a crisp white kurta and white pants. Not entirely devoid of colour, he teemed these with golden mojris having long pointed toes.
The event began with an introduction by the head of DUSC suggesting of Gulzar Sa’ab being a ‘mathematician’. Interestingly, this professor then went on to prove HOW Gulzar was actually a mathematician, albeit in poetic terms! ! The most touching part of this talk was the ‘turning point’ mentioned by him. It was Tagore’s poem “THE GARDENER”. Gulzar Sa’ab’s voice is very composed, grounded, as of one who has seen a lot in this world. This rich experience though does not prevent him from maintaining a child-like inquisitiveness and being a perpetual student.
The blogger noticed the deep respect he has for stalwarts of Hindi cinema whom he holds in high esteem and touched his ear-lobe every time he took an important name. He admitted to considering Bimal Roy as his ‘guru’ and narrating why he does so. The lucid, crisp and interesting description of his journey through the alleys of literature and cinema kept us all spell-bound.
This was followed by a panel discussion on “THE WORD AND THE IMAGE: Cinema, Literature, Culture.” For Gulzar Sa’ab, definitely, the ‘image’ comes first. This can be clearly understood while studying his lyrics as well as films. The word is a mere medium for articulating the thought process. Cinema is a medium that communicates through images. He compared his state to that of a lid on a boiling pan of water. The steam compels you for an expression. Expression arises from the desire to share and there is immense beauty in simplicity.
Being a creative person, he is beyond fixed domains. Artists cannot be, or rather should not be apolitical. As members of society it is their duty to express via art, and provoke too! The subjects of Gulzar Sa’ab’s movies, stories and poetry are a testimony to him practicing what he preaches! The discussion was so riveting, that the entire hall was on their feet, applauding for this greatly simple man. And yes, for the second time ever, this blogger gave a standing ovation to the ‘man of the day’.
Post-lunch, there was a poetry reading session. This definitely had the most heart-wrenching moments of the day. The layers of meaning, evoking vivid imagery and deeply sensitive themes, all tugged at the listener’s heart. Gulzar Sa’ab also has an admirable sense of earthly humour. लाजवाब चुटकियाँ लीं उन्होंने!!! His unassuming and humble demeanour are an important component of his ethereal charm.
To borrow from one of the speakers, this interaction was not just about that facet of Gulzar Sa’ab which is today best known. It was also delved into the realms of History, Economics, Mathematics, Literature and the indomitable human spirit. Gulzar Sa’ab brought with him this aura of positivity and calm. It was a fairly small [around 150-200] crowd and most, if not all, were charmed by his unassuming sense of humour and simplicity!
QUOTABLE QUOTE: “ BE A VAST AND BIG INDIAN. DON’T BECOME SMALL!”