Lit for Life

‘Gulzar on Gulzar’ had Meghna Gulzar talking about her father

Meghna Gulzar cannot imagine what it is like being Taimur Ali Khan. There is only one thing that connects these two, otherwise separated by generations — both were born to celebrity parents. Unlike Taimur, who is never away from the spotlight, Meghna had a childhood insulated from the paparazzi. There weren’t many around in the 1970s, anyway. This disconnect from the glitz and noise of Bollywood was perhaps why, as a child, Meghna couldn’t understand why people walked up to her father — noted lyricist, writer and director, Gulzar — and touched his feet in reverence.

“Only when I was around 15, did I realise the enormity of the adulation that my father enjoyed,” said Meghna.

In conversation with film critic Baradwaj Rangan in a session titled ‘Gulzar on Gulzar’ held on the first day of The Hindu Lit for Life, Meghna opened up on what it was like growing up as the daughter of Gulzar — an Oscar, Grammy and a Sahitya Akademi winner and a Dadasaheb Phalke awardee — on whom she had penned a book, Because He Is..., in 2004.

In the book, Meghna details the innocuous methods of communication she had adopted to discuss sensitive things with her father, like writing notes asking him why he was not living with her mother. Gulzar and the national award-winning actress Rakhee, Meghna’s mother, split soon after she was born, but never divorced.

“There were certain things that I couldn’t ask him directly. I was the only child and for the man that he was and the aura he exuded, I couldn’t be on backslapping terms with him. So, I left him these notes and he would reply in a friendly manner,” Meghna said.

Sharing a quirky story on working with her father, Meghna recalled how he had objected to using the word ‘filhaal’ in the lyrics to a song from the 2002 film of the same name. “He said the word lacked melody and that it would upset the flow of the rest of the lyric. We ended up disagreeing with each other over what we wanted for so long that Anu Malik (the film’s music director) intervened and told my father, ‘Why don’t you write the words and leave the part about adding melody to me?’”

Before making her directorial debut with Filhaal..., Meghna assisted her father in Hu Tu Tu (1999), which remains Gulzar’s last directorial venture. She said her father was disappointed by how the producer of the film went against his wishes and altered the film’s final cut.

“You don’t change a work of art (without approval). That (incident) left him disappointed,” Meghna said, adding that Gulzar decided to limit his creative exploits to writing. “Writing has always been his first love,” she said.


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Printable version | Jun 15, 2021 11:39:52 PM |

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