By Nishtha Gautam
The summer evenings of my childhood were punctuated with these words spoken in different voices, different intonations, emanating from a black-leather-attired radio set proudly perched on a neighbouring aunt’s rooftop.
Gulzar’s melodies kept us electricity-deprived, hyperactive, and irritable kids from bringing the house down. Setting up mattresses on the rooftop, we killed mosquitoes, cursed everyone from the electricity department to the class teacher (for making us swim in the sea of homework), and prayed for it to not rain. “Lakdi ki kaathi” and “Fursat ke Raat Din” made for a perfect musical backdrop. Childhood tribulations have given way to full blown adult terrors and radios have found their way into smartphones. Gulzar’s words, on the other hand, still perform their exorcism.
Turning 83 next month, Gulzar has no plans to retire. Two of his books are being released to mark 70 years of India’s independence and the partition that came with it. Another book on Indian poetry is in the works for which he has translated around 400 poems from different Indian languages into Hindustani.
A discussion on languages with Gulzar is an aural delight. He travels with ease in the idiomatic space of Hindustani, English, Urdu, Punjabi, Bengali, Marathi and even Assamese. In this video, Gulzar gives us one of his trivenis – a poem in three lines – on the contemporary obsession with religion.
Vignettes of Gulzar’s thoughts from this exclusive interview – where he weighs in on a range of issues from poetry to politics, Bollywood to bilingual books, gaali to urdu-e-mualla – will be rolled out periodically as articles, videos and podcasts as part of our BOL – Love Your Bhasha campaign. Watch this space!
Note: The article first appeared in the Quint
(We all love to express ourselves, but how often do we do it in our mother tongue? Here’s your chance! This Independence Day, khul ke bol with BOL – Love your Bhasha. Sing, write, perform, spew poetry – whatever you like – in your mother tongue. Send us your BOL at [email protected] or WhatsApp it to 9910181818.)
Click here to visit the Bol microsite.
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