Nasreen Munni Kabir’s “In the company of a poet” was the subject of a discussion in the Capital recently

Nasreen Munni Kabir’s “In the company of a poet” tells us about Gulzar’s passion in life, his endearing journey that began much before the song “Lakdi ki kaathi” and continues much after the Oscar- winning “Jai ho”, giving him the patient hearing he has long deserved.

The book was the subject of a recent panel discussion. The panellists comprised Prof. Salil Misra, Dean, Ambedkar University, Prof. Pervaiz Alam, Apeejay Stya University, Suresh Kohli, literary critic, Rakshanda Jalil, writer, Sukrita Paul Kumar and was chaired by Pavan K. Varma, retired IFS.

“Gulzar saab is such a multifaceted person and such an innovative man that we need many more books on him and that too in much more detail,” Varma said after the introduction. Misra found the plurality of Gulzar, as a Sikh, Muslim and a Hindu, very interesting . “Gulzar’s three contributions make him different. First he made Urdu acceptable and popular, second he transformed the poetry of gold to the poetry of common man and third he bridged the gap between Hindi and Urdu,” he said, pointing to the various roles Gulzar played.

He went on to add that Nasreen has used Gulzar as data for this book and the outcome of the process is statements like “music has power and beauty both”, “Salil Chowdhury was the best lyricist of Gulzar’s time”, “Marxism is soft although it can’t be”. Gulzar had no rivalry with any of the legends like Sahir Ludhianvi and Javed Akhtar, he added.

According to Alam, the interview format of the book resembles a skype conversation. Calling the book a window to his lyrics, Rakshanda pointed out Gulzar’s fascination with the word “chand” in his songs and said he has adapted to change very well. Kohli took issue with the structure of book, and said “when we remove the questions from the book it will be just a biography.”

But all panellists agreed that Gulzar speaks with insight, candidness and gentle sense of humour in this book.