Sampooran Singh Kalra (born 18 August 1934), known popularly by his pen name Gulzar, is an Indian poet, lyricist and director.[1] He primarily writes in Hindustani (Hindi-Urdu) and Punjabi; besides several dialects of Hindi such as Braj Bhasha, Khariboli, Haryanvi and Marwari. Gulzar was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2004 for his contribution to the arts and the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2002. He has won a number of National Film Awards and 20 Filmfare Awards. At the 81st Academy Awards, he won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for "Jai Ho" (shared with A.R.Rahman), for the film Slumdog Millionaire. On 31 January 2010, the same song won him a Grammy Award in the category of Grammy Award for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media.
Gulzar's poetry is partly published in three compilations: Chand Pukhraaj Ka, Raat Pashminey Ki and Pandrah Paanch Pachattar (15-05-75). His short stories are published in Raavi-paar (also known as Dustkhat in Pakistan) and Dhuan (smoke). As a lyricist, Gulzar is best known for his association with the music directors Rahul Dev Burman, A. R. Rahman and Vishal Bhardwaj. He has also worked with other leading Bollywood music directors including Sachin Dev Burman, Salil Chowdhury, Shankar Jaikishan, Hemant Kumar, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Madan Mohan, Rajesh Roshan, Anu Malik, and Shankar–Ehsaan–Loy. Along with lyrics, he has also contributed in many films as script, story and dialogue writer. Films directed by him have also won numerous awards and have been critically acclaimed. He also had worked on small screen by creating series Mirza Ghalib and Tahreer Munshi Premchand ki among others. He wrote lyrics for several Doordarshan serials including Hello Zindagi, Potli Baba ki and Jungle Book.

Early life

Gulzar was born in a Kalra Arora Sikh family, to Makhan Singh Kalra and Sujan Kaur, in Dina, Jhelum District, British India, in what is now Pakistan. Before becoming an established writer, Sampooran worked in Mumbai as a car mechanic in a garage.[2] His father rebuked him from becoming a writer saying "As a writer you will have to depend on your brothers".[3] He took the pen name Gulzar Deenvi after becoming an author.


Gulzar is best known in India as a lyricist for songs that form an integral part of Bollywood. He began his career under the directors Bimal Roy and Hrishikesh Mukherjee. His book Ravi Paar has a narrative of Bimal Roy and the agony of creation. Gulzar started his career as a songwriter with the music director Sachin Dev Burman for the movie Bandini (1963).[4] Shailendra who has penned rest of the songs of the movie urged Gulzar to write the song "Mora Gora Ang Layle". This was picturised on Nutan. Gulzar's most successful songs as a lyricist came out from his association with Sachin Dev Burman's son Rahul Dev Burman, whom he described as the anchor in his life.[5]Gulzar has had award-winning associations with the music directors Salil Chowdhury (Anand, Mere Apne), Madan Mohan (Mausam) and more recently with Vishal Bhardwaj (Maachis, Omkara, Kaminey), A. R. Rahman (Dil Se.., Guru, Slumdog Millionaire, Raavan) and Shankar–Ehsaan–Loy (Bunty aur Babli).
Gulzar was a song writer or dialogue writer for several Doordarshan programmes for kids such as Jungle Book, Alice in Wonderland, Guchche and Potli Baba Ki with Vishal Bhardwaj. He has more recently written and narrated for the children's audiobook series Karadi Tales.[6] For the peace campaign (Aman ki Asha) jointly started by India's and Pakistan's leading media houses, he wrote the anthem "Nazar Main Rehte Ho", which was recorded by Shankar Mahadevan and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan.[7]Gulzar has written ghazals for Ghazal Maestro Jagjit Singh's albumbs "Marasim" and "Koi Baat Chale". Both these albums were a great success.

As director

After writing dialogues and screenplay for films like Aashirwad, Anand, Khamoshi and more, Gulzar directed his first film Mere Apne(1971). The film was a remake of Tapan Sinha's Bengali film Apanjan(1969). Meena Kumari played the lead role of Anandi Devi, an old widow caught in between the local fights of unemployed & tormented youngsters. Anandi Devi's death in one of the fights makes them realize the futility of violence. The film was rated "Above Average" at the Box Office.[8] He then directed Parichay and Koshish. Parichay was based on a Bengali novel, Rangeen Uttarain by Raj Kumar Maitra[9] and inspired from the Hollywood film The Sound of Music. Written by Gulzar, Koshish told a story full of struggle of a deaf-dumb couple. Sanjeev Kumar won National Film Award for Best Actor for his performance in it.[10] Year 1973 saw his another directorial venture named Achanak. Inspired by the real-life sensational 1958 murder case KM Nanavati v State of Maharashtra,[11] the story writer K.A. Abbas earned a Filmfare nomination for Best Story.
Gulzar's Aandhi, based on the Hindi novel "Kaali Aandhi" by Kamleshwar, told a story of a couple separated against the backdrop of politics. Along with various wins and nominations, the film also won Filmfare Critics Award for Best Movie. Although believed to be based on the life of Ex-Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the film was based on life of Tarkeshwari Sinha.[12] However in the 1975's emergency, the film was banned from theatres.[9] Inspired from Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay's Pandit Mashay was his next film Khushboo. Mausam that won National Award for 2nd Best Feature Film,[13] Filmfare Best Movie and Filmfare Best Director awards, along with other six Filmfare nominations was loosely based on the story "Weather", from the novel, The Judas Tree, by A.J. Cronin. Sharmila Tagore for her roles of Chanda and Kajli received The Silver Lotus Award at the 23rd National Film Festival. In his 1982's film Angoor, Gulzar took the story of Shakespeare's play The Comedy of Errors.
None of the Gulzar's film were "Blockbuster Hits" on the Indian Box Office. His films told stories of human relationships entangled in social issues. Libaas was a story of extra-marital affair of an urban couple. Due to its objectionable subject the film never got released in India.[14] Mausam pictured a story of a father who tries to improve the life of his prostitute-daughter. In Maachis, a young Punjabi boy pick up to terrorism to fight the situations only to realize its temporary nature. Hu Tu Tu dealt with corruption in India and how a man decides to fight it.[15]Gulzar uses "flashback" in the narration of his stories very effectively (Aandhi, Mausam, Ijaazat, Machis, Hu Tu Tu). He also has mutual partnerships with various actors and other crew. The Gulzar - Sanjeev Kumar partnership resulted in few fine films (Koshish, Aandhi, Mausam, Angoor, Namkeen) which represent Sanjeev Kumar's finest work as an actor.[16] Actors like Jeetendra (Parichay, Khushboo, Kinara), Vinod Khanna (Achanak, Meera, Lekin) and Hema Malini (Khushboo, Kinara, Meera) worked with Gulzar to gain respectability as artists and delivered some of their best and most introspective work in films.[16] With his situational lyrics and quality music composed by various famous Bollywood musicians in Gulzar's films, his songs have always been the key point. R D Burman composed songs for almost all the movies directed by him in the 1970s and the 1980s (Parichay, Khushboo, Aandhi, Angoor, Ijaazat, Libaas). Many of their popular songs were sung by Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle. These include "Musafir Hoon Yaron" (Parichay), "Tere Bina Zindagi Se Koi" (Aandhi), and "Mera Kuch Samaan" (Ijaazat). Gulzar says,
"Music has a natural place in our lives. Right from the shloka you recite in your morning puja and the milkman who comes whistling on his cycle, to the fakir singing as he begs for alms and your mother humming around the kitchen...Music fills our spaces naturally. It will always be dear to us." [16]
Although an Urdu writer, Gulzar's directorial venture shows inspiration from various Bengali writers. In 1988, he directed an eponymous television serial Mirza Ghalib starring Naseeruddin Shah, shown on Indian television channel Doordarshan. About the serial he says,
"...My TV serial on poet `Ghalib' was based on history, though the earlier movie version treated him as a myth."[12]

As Poet

Gulzar has vast knowledge of Urdu Poetry. He is creator of a new type of stanza named as Triveni. Few examples of which are,
"... ज़मीं भी उसकी,ज़मी की नेमतें उसकी,
ये सब उसी का है,घर भी,ये घर के बंदे भी,
खुदा से कहिये,कभी वो भी अपने घर आयें!"
"...मां ने जिस चांद सी दुल्हन की दुआ दी थी मुझे,
आज की रात वह फ़ुटपाथ से देखा मैंने,
रात भर रोटी नज़र आया है वो चांद मुझे!"


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