Gulzar in conversation with Nasreen Munni Kabir: A Bard’s Eye View

Sayantan Ghosh
Sayantan GhoshOct 14, 2022 | 13:19

Gulzar in conversation with Nasreen Munni Kabir: A Bard’s Eye View

British-Indian producer Nasreen Munni Kabir is known for her "In Conversation" books, writing on Gulzar, Waheeda Rahman, AR Rahman, Zakir Hussain and many more (photo-DailyO)

What can be said about Gulzar that hasn’t already been said. Nearly every conversation among friends around poetry, the Urdu language or Hindi film songs—and sometimes even mundane details of life—tends to bring Gulzar’s name to our mind. It makes sense thus, that the story of Gulzar’s life unfolds before us in the form of a series of conversations with the author of this volume, Nasreen Munni Kabir.

photo-Rupa Publications
(photo-Rupa Publications)

With his trademark humour and artful candour, Gulzar tells us about his early life during the Partition, about the time when he worked in a garage, takes us through the days when he borrowed books from a second-hand bookseller and read by the light of a lantern, hands out anecdotes about his close associates and influences in the film industry – from Bimal Roy, Balraj Sahni, Sahir Ludhianvi to Meena Kumari, Lata Mangeshkar, and S.D. Burman, among others.

Central to his life are certainly the daily writing hours, but also the games of tennis that he plays religiously every day and the time he gets to spend with his daughter and grandson. One of the most poignant things we learn is when he’s asked about his wife – famous yesteryear actor, Raakhee (whom he refers to as “Raakheeji” throughout). “We talk about the details of our lives every single day,” he says. She lives in her house and he lives in his, but she visits every now and then, sometimes cooks at his home, asks for his driver to take her around, celebrates important occasions with him and the family. “Living together, separately,” is how he describes it. When one knows how to find the right words, they are usually this simple. 

(photo-Rupa Publications)
(photo-Rupa Publications)

It’s an extraordinary life, but each episode is narrated with such wistfulness and easy charm that the book reads like a breeze. Fusing Gulzar’s memory with his wisdom and experiences, Kabir takes the readers inside the most intimate spaces of his home and mind. In Gulzar’s home, he’s surrounded by photographs of people who matter to him most – portraits of Raakhee, their daughter Meghna, their grandson Samay, and Gulzar’s father. Just how many of us surround ourselves with his words, especially when the night is dark and his is the only light we can see.

Last updated: October 14, 2022 | 13:19
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