Gulzar turned 85 on August 18, 2019. In a career in Indian films that spans more than 5 decades Gulzar has managed to have a solid fan following across all age groups who dote on his poetry, lyrics, films and writings. When it comes to his films he has explored relationships in a way that no other film director could. That is why most of his films are considered landmark work in Indian cinema and have attained cult status in today’s world.
Gulzar has treated relationships with a rare sensitivity
Gulzar saw or still sees things in a way that others can’t. His sensitivity in treating relationships is unparalleled. His understanding of love and the circumstances which influence it, is just amazing. Love triangles are rampant in Indian films but no one can ever forget National Award-winning Ijaazat.
The most important thing is you cannot be judgmental about any of the characters in the film although they keep making relationship mistakes.
Naseeruddin Shah, Anuradha Patel and Rekha played their part to the hilt and all you are left with is a lingering feeling of sadness at love gone wrong. The song Mera Woh Samaan is probably Gulzar’s ultimate offering to love.
His relationships are beyond couple love
Two of my favourite Gulzar films are Mere Apne and Angoor. Both the films were based on Bengali films. The first one was from Aponjon and the second was from Bhrantibilas, which is also based on the novel by the same name by Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar.
Mere Apne delves into the beautiful relationship that an old lady, who has been asked to leave home by her own son and daughter-in-law, develops with a gang of boys in the locality.
They give her shelter and look after her showing a humane side to their characters, which judgmental society usually misses out because none of them are employed.
Angoor is a hilarious film where two identical twins stumble upon their counterparts and the confusion and fun that follows. The film is a laugh riot but at the same time Gulzar has worked on each and every relationship in the film with a deftness that is only possible for a maestro like him. Sanjeev Kumar and Deven Verma are scene stealers in the film.
Gulzar treated political issues with love
Be it Aandhi or Maachis Gulzar addresses political issues with a rare finesse. In fact, although a love story but Aandhi is considered to be the first feminist film to be made in Hindi cinema. Suchitra Sen excelled in the role of a woman politician.
Maachis revolves around the terrorist issue of Kashmir through the love story of a young couple. Chhod Aaye Hum Woh Galiyan gives goose bumps every time you listen to it and so did the last scene where the protagonists Tabu and Chandrachur Singh committed suicide.
From adultery to special needs couples, he delved into all
Gulzar’s greatest gift is he treated his characters without any judgment and an emotional depth that he lent his characters made them endearing to audiences.
Libaas was much ahead of its times. It was based on Gulzar’s own short story Seema where a woman frustrated in her marriage looked for sexual gratification outside it. The film starred Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah and Raj Babbar.
Koshish starring Jaya Bachchan and Sanjeev Kapoor as a deaf and mute couple struggling to survive in a society that is largely insensitive to specially-abled people, is one of Gulzar’s greatest works and remains a relevant film even today. He showed the love between a deaf and mute couple so beautifully. The scene where the couple is scared that their child could be deaf and mute and try desperately to get a reaction from him with sound, is something that stays with you forever.
Gulzar will always be an artist on screen, be it as a director, lyricist or screen writer. The man’s understanding of relationships will always make him a class apart.