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Destiny's child

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book Gulzar takes a poetic journey into life

Acollection of stray thoughts, random scribbling and some whims penned down to form a book that is engaging in its own ways — that's Gulzar's latest offering,

“Neglected Poems”, published by Penguin. And in many others, it reminds one of some of the verses penned half a century ago.

For instance, Gulzar's couplet “Awaaz ki shakal utarti nahin” in the poem “Ek Naqal Tujhe Bhi Bhejunga” reminds one of the words of Sahir Ludhianvi in M. Sadiq's ‘Taj Mahal'. Wrote Sahir, “Rango mein tera aks dhala tu na dhal saki…saanson ki anch jism ki khushbu na dhal saki.”

Understanding women

The book has some 50-odd poems, but Gulzar picks the opener “Meghana” as his favourite.

He calls it his tribute to women.

“It is about the child to be born, all that the baby goes through, all that the mother goes through, what the father goes through but essentially the idea is the father can never understand what the mother goes through in labour.”

Talking of favourites, there was a time when the legendary Asadullah Khan Ghalib was ready to exchange his entire collection for one couplet of Momin, “Tum mere paas hote ho goya, jab koi doosra nahin hota.” Has Gulzar too felt something similar about another poet — for one couplet by someone else, would he barter his entire works?

“No, not really. But I have loved and admired many poets and many of them have been much superior to me. But if I were to really envy somebody for a couplet that has to be Bahadur Shah Zafar and his shairi ‘Kitna hai badnaseeb Zafar do gaz zameen bhi na mili….' It was beautiful, soulful. Sometimes I wonder why I cannot write something like that. Then I was told ‘that was another age, you will have to reproduce that era for that kind of poetry'. Now, I am in a happy space. I ask how can I write, ‘Mora gora ang lai le' if we are doing an ‘Omkara'. See, the picturisation of the song ‘Beedi jalai le' and visualise ‘Mora gora ang'. It just won't work.”

Fair enough, but he has become very prolific as an author-poet in recent times, almost making up for the lost years in Bollywood when the poet in him was reduced to a lyricist.

Doesn't he feel the writer in him was neglected because he was involved with filmmaking?

“Sometimes I do feel so, but I also understand that whatever I am is at least partly because people know me through films. I consider it destiny. I don't look back with longing, just take as part of destiny's plan. Allah Miyan ko yahi manzoor thha.”

His new project is “Tera Bayaan Ghalib” where he pays tribute to Jagjit Singh, his good friend and confidant, and doffs his hat to the poet through a two-CD collection.

For the CDs brought out by Sa Re Ga Ma, Gulzar has focussed on the letters of the legendary poet.

ZIYA US SALAAM

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