In town for the ongoing children’s film fest, Gulzar is excited to be around children

“It is breezy out here, isn’t it? But I don’t mind. Let me face it and then maybe I can enjoy the mild chill,” says Gulzar with a smile. Film director, lyricist, screenwriter, film producer and poet Gulzar could be using the latest phone to talk, but his wrist watch is an antique piece.

Gulzar’s spotless white attire of crisp khadi kurta and pyjama has just one element of colour in it—a green tag hanging around his neck. If Gulzar seems cheerful, he attributes most of the cheer to the number of children around him. Gulzar is the guest of honour for the ongoing 18th International Children Film Festival India, in Hyderabad that began on November 14. “Children bring cheer. They are so upbeat and why shouldn’t they be. It is the one fest dedicated to them. Actually there should have been more such fests. Every city should have a film fest for children. The issue and suggestion was raised a few years back but none of the states came forward. They don’t seem to be too keen. This could have been a reality had there been a children’s film society in each state. The scenario was different when Jayaji (Jaya Bhaduri) was the film Chairperson for the Children’s Film Society. She would travel to different states and see there was active work,” he says.

In the same breath Gulzar says that he isn’t disappointed, as hope lives. “Ifs and buts are old moves in history.” He adds, “This could have been a movement had everyone taken interest in it.”

In the meantime Gulzar chats with a little girl who’s been playing around the pool area in The Park hotel. He asks her about the little cup of yogurt she is carrying and in a playful manner suggests it would be fun if he gets her a spoon so that she could finish the yogurt scoop by scoop while it is still cold.

“There is a chill in the air and I am enjoying it because in Bombay this is a rarity, like good literature for children. Except Bengali, Marathi and Malayalam no other language has books for children. The number of children produced is way more than the number of books and cinema for children. So let’s not blame film-makers for lack of good cinema for children. Their interests have been all hijacked by commercial houses. Overall, as a society also, we haven’t done much.”

Gulzar is of the opinion that adults should not look at bringing up our children based on their childhood. “Do not try to replicate your childhood through your children. It is not the same time and children these days are way ahead. I sit with my grandson and play games. I learn from him and it is a pleasure seeing him play with gadgets,” quips Gulzar. As a matter of fact, the poet says, “There can’t be one defined childhood. That would be very boring. As parents we should be the provider of the change. Parents too need to grow with the times.” Gulzar’s happy countenance brightens up even more at the mention of his grandson. So is he spoiling him? “Absolutely I guess. Because that’s what his parents’ keep complaining about. Not that I mind. It is indulgence and it is natural,” he smiles.

Talking about grandchildren and children, is Gulzar the story teller, writing books for his grandson like he did for his daughter? “Not books, I am making albums for him. Remember, these kids are born in times of technology,” he adds. Does his daughter feel jealous that his focus has changed? The poet says, “It is a beautiful envy.”

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