Nazm Ko Shaql Mil Jaaye Toh…

February 28, 2013 at 9:15 AMFeb (Cinema, Literature, Musings, Poetry, Slice Of Life)

[On 26th Feb 2013, on the second day of the three day Screenwriter’s Conference held in Mumbai by the Film Writer’s Association, the first FWA award was conferred on Salim-Javed and Gulzar for their contribution to film writing. The FWA asked me, as a young aspiring screenwriter, to speak of Gulzar’s contribution to film writing in two minutes, just before the award was conferred. I could speak only a part of what I had prepared not because of time constraints but because I lost my path, seeing Gulzar seated on row one and Javed Sahab was sitting next to him. But I touched on almost every aspect I wanted to touch, though did not speak as prepared. Here is the entire text that I had prepared keeping in mind the ‘two minutes’ time span I had in hand.]

Gulzar speaking after having received the FWA award from actress Hema Malini.

Gulzar speaking after having received the FWA award 2013 from actress Hema Malini.

Gulzar sahab to the larger mass, as a film writer, is a lyricist though his contribution to film writing also consist of screenplay writing and dialogue writing. As a literary figure his popularity is that of a poet though his literary body also includes short story, biography, plays and also translation. The truth in the popular image is that whatever form that Gulzar sahab work in he is essentially a poet, adding a poetic touch to that very form.

While we all accept that songs are an integral part of the narrative in Indian popular cinema we forget to see that lyrics as a part of the screenplay. Gulzar sahab, even while writing only the lyrics, has always been the co-writer of the film as he understands the role of songs and lyrics in the film and sees it as a part of the screen narrative itself and not divorced of it. In performing his role as a co-writer of the film he, more than often, is not just adding to the narrative but giving insights into the narrative and also lifting the narrative to a different level by deepening and heightening the narrative through his lyrics, thus becoming a co-writer of the film. A great example of this would be the lyrics of Mani Ratnam’s film Dil Se, where the sufiyana undertone (the story of an omnipresent yet inaccessible beloved culminating in death which is also a divine unity) was marked by the lyrics of Gulzar saheb which lifted the narrative to a newer level. That makes him the co-writer of the film for her underlines the narrative with a new insight.

While his verse added to the narrative, his real contribution, is in making the narrative poetic. Take the example of a scene from Shekhar Kapoor’s Masoom. There is a crack in the relationship between the husband and the wife. The husband enters the bedroom while the wife is changing her saree. On seeing the husband enter the room the wife covers herself and moves to the bathroom. Now, is this dramatic? To me it is poetic! While watching the films that have been written by Gulzar sahab I have wondered whether what he writes is really a screenPLAY? I have often wanted to call it, at the risk of being objected by academicians  not as screenplay but as screen-poetry or to make it sound better screenpoessy. Its not just a simple re-phrasing of the term but is essentially a pointer at the redefining of the style of screenplay by Gulzar sahab by re-imagining screenplay. His screenpoessy created a new kind of cinematic image, it appears. An image not created by the director or a cinematographer but by the writer. This image is that which is not shown (on screen) but that which is seen (by the audience).

One personal story. Few months ago I happened to meet Gulzar sahab in Mangalore where I took his autograph on his biography. He had written “To YOU with love, Gulzar” and trust me I have felt, since then, my name is You. It was a unique lesson for me: To be able to see ‘You’ in ‘Me’ and ‘I’ in ‘You’ which is the required transcendence for any artist and the casting away of the ‘I’. So now when I stand here to thank Gulzar sahab for his contribution to film writing and all that  has been learnt from him, I am not just I but all of you.

One last thing to be said to you Gulzar sahab: Agar nazm ko shaql mil jaaye toh woh aap ki hamshakl hogi (If poetry ever got a face it would resemble you.)


  1. malathi S said,

    wah Samvartha!! my heartfelt applause!!
    malathi S

  2. uglywords said,

    So excited for you! Congratulations! 🙂

  3. Vasundhara Srinivasa Rangan said,


  4. Sandhya Rani said,

    wanted to read it as soon as i saw the post but waited till now, till i get complete peaceful time! Apt for a poet ….. and the reference of ‘Dil se’ is soo good and gave new insight to the song and music … And about masoom scene, that was once scene which shook me while watching the movie …. waiting for a detailed article by you picking the poetic scenes from gulzar’s movies! Thanks ‘YOU’!!

  5. Nik said,

    best speech to summarize a great personality in two minutes… lovely words “agar nazm ko shakl mil jaye toh wo apki hamshakl hogi”…

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