- Actor, Director, Writer, Producer, Screenplay, Dialogue Writer, Lyricist
Aug 18, 1936 in Dina, Punjab, Pakistan
Aug 18, 1936 in Dina, Punjab, Pakistan
Popular worldwide by the pen name Gulzar, Sampooran Singh Kalra's lyrics have a poetic finesse and sensitivity that is unmatched in the Indian entertainment industry. Apart from an ace lyricist and poet, Gulzar is also a critically acclaimed filmmaker and writer, whose awe-inspiring body of work has made him irreplaceable. He started his career as a lyricist with Bimal Roy's Bandini and has since then worked with industry's most known music composers and film directors. Gulzar has also directed movies such as Parichay, Mausam, Meera, and Angoor.
Gulzar was bestowed with the Padma Bhushan in 2004 and Sahitya Akademi Award in 2002. In 2013, he was honored with Dadasaheb Phalke Award, the highest award in Indian cinema. He has also been the recipient of various National and Filmfare Awards. In 2009, the prolific writer won the Academy Award and Golden Globe for his song "Jai Ho" from Danny Boyle's drama film Slumdog Billionaire.
Born in the pre-independence India in Dina (now in Pakistan), to Makhan Singh Kalra and Sujan Kaur, Gulzar since childhood had a keen interest in literature. With his age, his passion for music also grew and he started attending concerts of music maestros like Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan. During the unfateful time of India's partition, Gulzar's family was uprooted from their native home and had to move to Amritsar, India. But Sampooran Singh Kalra realized that his true calling lies in Mumbai and shifted to the city of dreams to fulfill his destiny. He started working at a garage in Worli and soon Bollywood came knocking on the door and Sampooran Singh Kalra metamorphosed into Gulzar.
Gulzar married the yesteryear's iconic hazel-eyed actress Rakhee on May 15, 1973. Both were at the highest points of their career when they met at a party and were completely in awe of each other. However, the fairytale romance came to a halt one year after the wedlock. There were rumors everywhere in the fraternity that Gulzar did not support Rakhee's decision of returning to films post marriage and the last nail in the coffin came when she agreed to do Yash Chopra's 'Kabhi Kabhie' without even consulting her husband. Calling it the longest short story of his life, Gulzar turned to poetry to overcome the pain. Although the couple separated, they never went through a divorce because of their daughter Meghna Gulzar.
As a Lyricist
Gulzar began his iconic journey under Bimal Roy with the movie Bandini. He wrote the song "Mora Gora Ang Layle", which was sung by Lata Mangeshkar and composed by S.D Burman. Picturised on Nutan, this song led him to write the lyrics and dialogues for Hrishikesh Mukherjee's next directorial venture Ashirwaad. Featuring Ashok Kumar and Sanjeev Kumar, the movie become popular for inclusion of the track "Rail Gaddi", a rap song starring Ashok Kumar. Subsequently, he penned the lyrics for the 1971 release Guddi, whose song "Humko Mann Ki Shakti Dena" is still sung in various schools across India as a morning prayer. Having worked under music directors like RD Burman, SD Burman, Shankar-Jaikishan, Hemant Kumar, and Laxmikant Pyarelal, he went to pen down songs for iconic movies like Namak Haraam, Chupke Chupke, Aandhi, Ghar, Gol Maal, Khubsoorat, and Sadma. In 1996, Gulzar directed Maachis, whose music was composed by Vishal Bhardwaj. They also collaborated on projects like Maqbool, Omkara, and Haider.
His collaboration with AR Rahman has given soundtracks like Dil Se, Saathiya, Guru, Slumdog Millionaire, and Jab Tak Hai Jaan that are ever-contemporary. Gulzar won an Oscar for Best Original Song, for the song "Jai Ho" which he shared with A.R. Rahman. And for the same, both of them also won a Grammy Award for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media.
Gulzar continued to win hearts with his poetic words penned for films like Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola, Ek Thi Daayan (2013), Kya Dilli Kya Lahore, Dedh Ishqiya, Haider, Lingaa and Kill Dil (2014), for which he also rendered his voice at the beginning of the song Sajde. In 2016, apart from writing the lyrics, he also wrote the dialogue and screenplay of Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's Mirzya which was the launch pad of Anil Kapoor's son Harshvardhan Kapoor. After that, he worked on Ok Jaanu and Rangoon. Yeh Ishq Hai from the former and Enna Sona from the latter became the favorites of romantic melody lovers. His 2018 projects include Raazi, Bioscopewala, and Soorma.
As a Writer and Director
After having written screenplays and dialogues for films like Sangharsh, Aashirwad, and Anand, he turned to movie direction with Meena Kumari and Vinod Khanna starrer Mere Apne, which received mixed reviews at the box office. He then made critically appreciated movies like Parichay, Koshish, Achanak, Khushboo, and Aandhi. Gulzar next directed Sharmila Tagore and Sanjeev Kumar in the drama film Mausam. Released in 1975, the movie bagged the National Award for the 2nd Best Feature Film and Filmfare Awards for Best Feature Film and Best Director. His next film, Angoor, was a roller coaster comedy starring Vinod Mehra and Deven Verma in double roles. Further, he directed Hu Tu Tu.
In 1988, Gulzar directed the nationally acclaimed TV Serial Mirza Sahib, based on the great poet's life. The serial starred Naseeruddin Shah in the titular role. Gulzar television career also included writing songs and dialogues for serials like Jungle Book, Alice in Wonderland, and Hello Zindagi.