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Director's cut

Among his own films, Gulzar picks "Ijaazat for its mood, Kitab for its nostalgic elements, Maachis for its theme and Namkeen for its lovely relationship and well etched screenplay". His lyrics are legendary for their ability to transcend the mundane and reach the soul of love . His own favourites are, Mera kuch samaan pada hai (Ijaazat), Roz akeli aaye (Mera Apne), and Phir se aayee o badre (Namkeen).

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close shave.....Nana Patekar with Gulzar on the set of HU TU TU

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yara seeli-seeli...LEKIN

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How did you get to the subject of Meera?

I've been fond of biographies. Meera is hardly four hundred years ago. When I mention to people that Meera belongs to the Tulsidas period, that she wrote a letter to him too, they don't believe it. They are not aware of this fact. She is the first example of a woman who did not accept the religion of her husband and yet remained married to him.
I thought that was very interesting. Her husband was a kshatriya and she, a vaishnav. I've made a historical film, not a mythological one. Her father died fighting Babar and it's interesting how she met Raidas who gave her an ektara. I wanted her legend to live again.
Do you get frustrated when your film takes long to finish?
It's very frustrating to make a film that takes long to make because you lose the fever. It's important to remain feverish and that's why my films don't take more than a year.

Have you never faced date problems with actors?

I don't have any problem with actors' dates because I plan my films much earlier. I have their dates in advance. It's good for them too and they are happy.

You said once that you wanted to be a poet. How did you become a film-maker?

I only wanted to be a litterateur. I wasn't very keen to become a film-maker. I fended off many offers from my friends who were in films then -- people like Salil Chaudhary who I met in Bombay, in IPTA, Balraj Sahni, Shailendra... I was working in a motor garage that time as an administrator. I was there because I knew I'd have more time to read and study. My friends were working with Bimalda at that time.
They took me over to him to write a song for Bandini. That was the beginning. He asked me to be his assistant. I don't know, maybe I should have blushed. But he did give me that offer. I thought that writing lyrics wasn't poetry and so wasn't keen. He told me that he was starting a film called Kabuliwalla and that I should be his assistant there. I agreed.

Didn't you join as a lyricist in Kabuliwalla?

In Kabuliwalla, I joined as an assistant. But later he asked me to also write a song.Ganga aaye kahan se, Ganga jaaye kahan se. I wrote songs for a while and turned to direction.

Gulzar, during his cinematic hibernation, has obviously done a lot of thinking about films in general, the state of the industry in particular. And now that the vein of thought has been tapped, the ideas flow thick and fast. "There are," he analyses, "very few films today that provide opportunities to talented actors to parade their ability - in general, the fast buck is the motto. Some make money from films, others go the Sukh Ram way - and either way, there is total deterioration all round.
"Mind you, I am an optimist, I believe that we are still growing - only, our growth is spiral, not vertical, which is why the rate of growth seems slow. Look at how we still, as a nation, have kept faith with democracy, despite our leaders. And compare this with the condition of some of our neighbouring nations. The point here is that our strength, as a nation, is and has always been the common man - hats off to him!"

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Bandini..Gulzar penned his first film-song for director Bimal Roy.

It's not easy to make films that one wants to because it is not easy to find a producer that fast for the subjects I want to make. They are not hot cakes in the market. Unless somebody comes forward to finance them as happened with my last two films.
R V Pandit backed Maachis since he knew about the Punjab problems. Dhirubhai Shah, who has never made films like this before, financed Hu Tu Tu. He stood by me and never interfered in the film-making process. On the contrary, I think he was as inspired by the film's subject as the rest of us.
-GULZAR


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