I fell in love with him one late night in the eigthies. My knowledge of Hindi movies and songs were limited to some random shreds of news items in the local paper and some dog eared copies of ‘Stardust’ or “Filmfare’. I had heard of neither the movie nor the director before that. The titles started rolling and the scintillating voice of Asha Bhosle got me hooked. Even as a teenager in a small town, I knew the actors – Rekha and Naseerudin Shah. As for Anuradha Patel , I got to know her name much later. Emotions marched past my mind in no particular sequence, and I can still remember the feelings each of the scene evoked in my impressionable mind. And I wanted to watch it again and to listen to the songs in a never ending loop. The movie was ‘Ijazzat’ and the director, ‘Gulzar’. The rest, as they is history. I fell heard over heels and then heels over head and then went on and did a few somersaults as well.
Affairs have highs and lows, people fall in and out of love, but this was one connection that has only grown with each passing year. Whoever said remote relationships do not work have not known the pure joy and ecstasy of one between a writer and his readers. Each movie, every song of his, has strengthened my undying admiration for this man. At first it was the pure simplicity of his lyrics. Slowly, I started noticing the sheer brilliance of the imagery in his poems. A song of his could transport me to another place in time and space, introduce me to persons hetherto unknown and make me aware of feelings that I had never known before. The fine line that separated nature, love and lovers were almost invisible, they flowed seamlessly from one to the other and back. Mundane things in life were expressed in words so simple, pure and profound.
“Poetry Reading by Gulzar and Javed Akhtar’ – the line caught my eye in last Thursday’s TOI. And my mind was made up, whaetever happens, I am going to be there. And there I was last Saturday in the green lawns of Jaya Mahal Palace, eagerly awaiting the presence of two stalwarts.And when someone announced “Javed saab would not be here today” I was more happy than disappointed, it meant more of Gulzar saab. And in he came, sprightly steps, his customary white kurta pajamas and an off-white shawl swung carelessly across his neck. Sanjana Roy Chaudhury who has worked with him for more than 16 years started with the introduction aptly titled ‘subah subah ek khwaab ki dastak par’. And he started reading out with this first poem. Till now, I had thought Amitabhji’s voice was the best. Suffice to say, my opinion has changed now. The voice and the poem, the asides and anecdotes in between, I sat there mesmerized, and then I knew why people go ‘wah! wah!’.
The following two poems were about rain and clouds – the first one made you feel the caress of the cool breeze against your cheeks and the refreshing feel of a fresh summer shower. The next one was about the angry clouds and thunder that sometimes scares you. It was as if your whole being was cooled by those drops of water on your face and then the peace shattered by a loud thunder and strong gales. After the shower he invited the crowd, “come, lets go up to the mountains and see how beautiful and different is the night up there”. “Raat pahaadon par kuch alag hi hoti hein”, and the audience nodded their heads in agreement. Suddenly you were in a place high above, where the sky is never completely dark, stars seem like zari work, the wind actually speaks to you and two waterfalls talk to each other loudly like two rustic friends discussing the activities in their village.
And he went on about life of an old man in a new apartment complex, the banalities of middle class life, how the sun upturned like a pot that was full and the final one about his love for Urdu. The emotions that his words evoked cannot be described in mere words. I now understand how artists paint their feelings. If I could capture those moments in colour, it would be a collage of all the brightest colors that you could think of. I now know why poets of those foregone years were so revered, why kings accorded them so high a status in their courts, why women swooned over their ‘shaayaris’.
He does not talk about the complications of life or love, instead he talks about everyday things and ordinary emotions of people like you and me and then turns it into magic. You can actually see the constant twinkle of mischief in his eyes, the quick repartees to questions have to be heard to be believed. And as to his continued inspiration, pat came the reply, “Aap our Zindagi”
Yes, this man weaves his magic out of us and life, and boy, what a feast it is!
I look at this and get transported back to that magical morning