Sampooran Singh Kalra (born 18 August 1936), better known by his pen name Gulzar, is an Indian poet, lyricist and director. Gulzaar primarily works in Hindi-Urdu. He also works in Punjabi, several dialects of Hindi like braj bhasha, khadi boli, Haryanvi and Marwari.
Gulzar was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2004 for his contribution to the arts, and the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2002. He has also won a number of National Film Awards and Filmfare Awards in various categories. In 2009, he won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Jai Ho” in the film Slumdog Millionaire (2008). On 31 January 2010, the same song won him a Grammy Award in the category of Best Song Written For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media.
As a lyricist, Gulzar is best known for his association with the music directors Rahul Dev Burman, A. R. Rahman and Vishal Bhardwaj, and has also worked with other leading Hindi movie music directors including Sachin Dev Burman, Salil Chowdhury, Madan Mohan, Shankar Ehsaan Loy and Anu Malik.
Gulzar was born in a Kalra Arora Sikh family, to Makhan Singh Kalra and Sujan Kaur, in Dina, Jhelum District, Pakistan. Before becoming an established writer, Sampooran worked as a car mechanic in a garage. He took the pen name Gulzar Deenvi after becoming an author.
Gulzar is best known in India as a lyricist for songs that form an integral part of Indian cinema. He began his career under two other artists – Bimal Roy and Hrishikesh Mukherjee. His book Ravi Paar has a narrative of Bimal Roy and the agony of creation. Gulzar started his career as a songwriter with Sachin Dev Burman for the movie “Bandini” (1963). The song was “Mora gora ang layle”, picturised on Nutan. His most famous songs have been associated with Rahul Dev Burman in movies such as “Parichay” (“Musafir hoon yaron” sung by Kishore Kumar), “Aandhi” (“Tera bina zindagi se koi” sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore), “Kushboo” (“Ghar Jaayegi” sung by Asha Bhosle) and “Ijaazat” (“Mera kuch saaman” sung by Asha), “Masoom” (“Tujhse naraz nahi zindagi” sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Anoop Ghosal) to name a few. However he has had award-winning associations with Salil Chowdhury (for the movie “Anand”), Madan Mohan (“Mausam”), and more recently with Vishal Bhardwaj (“Maachis”), A. R. Rahman (“Dil Se”, “Guru”) and Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy (“Bunty aur Babli”).
Gulzar had leftist leanings (from an Indian perspective) in his early days that can be seen from his early movies (as director) like Mere Apne (translated as ‘My dear ones’). His film Aandhi is an oblique criticism of Indian polity, and was banned for a time because it was seen as a criticism of Indira Gandhi for the imposition of the emergency. He also depicted a flair for adapting stories/concepts from literature as well as from other films. Angoor (“Grapes”) is based on Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors, and Mausam (“Season”) is an adaptation of A. J. Cronin’s The Judas Tree. Gulzar also adapted the Hollywood classic The Sound of Music into Parichay. He directed an eponymous Television serial on Mirza Ghalib starring Naseeruddin Shah shown on Indian Television Channel Doordarshan in 1988. Gulzar also worked, as a song writer or dialogue writer for several Doordarshan programs for kids such as Jungle Book, Alice in Wonderland, Guchche and Potli Baba Ki together with Vishal Bhardwaj. He has more recently written and narrated for the children’s audiobook series Karadi Tales
Gulzar is known for making brilliantly sensitive portrayal of subjects ranging from human relations, biographical profiles and often controversial social issues. For his contributions to Indian cinema, Gulzar was honored with Padma Bhushan in 2004, the third highest civilian award in India. Also, Gulzar and his movies have won numerous awards at the National level including awards for best director and best lyrics. He also won the 2002 Sahitya Akademi Award for ‘Dhuan’, a collection of Urdu short stories.
Gulzar has developed a new style of writing poems called Triveni which comprises stanzas comprising three lines rhyming with each other. His private album “Koi Baat Chale” with Ghazal maestro Jagjit Singh has all the songs written in Triveni.
Personal lifeGulzar is married to actress Raakhee. They have a daughter, Meghna Gulzar who is a film director. She has directed a sensitive film on surrogate motherhood, Filhaal…, and a lighthearted take on the marriage institution, Just Married (2007). Meghna Gulzar has also penned a biography of Gulzar, titled Because he is. Gulzar has given her nickname ‘Boski’, which is an eponym for their home, ‘Boskiana’. Quite recently the Bajaj Allianz ‘Jiyo Befikar’ song for which Gulzar has penned lyrics for the first time for a commercial has been very appreciated.
Academy AwardsBest Original Song – ‘Jai Ho’ – Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
Filmfare AwardsBest Director – Mausam (1976)
Best Lyricist 1972: All songs – Anand 1973: All songs – Namak Haraam 1977: Do diwane shahar mein – Gharaonda 1979: Aanewala pal jaane wala hai- Gol Maal 1980: Hazar rahen mud ke dekhi- Thodisi Bewafaii 1983: Tujhse naraaz nahin zindagi – Masoom 1988: Mera kuchh saamaan – Ijaazat 1991: Yaara sili sili – Lekin… 1998: Chaiyya Chaiyya – Dil Se 2002: All songs – Saathiya 2005: Kajra Re – Bunty Aur Babli
Best Dialogue1972: Anand 1974: Namak Haraam 1996: Maachis (1996) 2002: Saathiya (2002) 1996: Best Story – Maachis 1975: Critics Award for Best Movie – Aandhi (1975) 2002: Lifetime Achievement Award
National Film AwardsBest Directing – Mausam (1976) Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment – Maachis (1996) Best Lyrics 1988: ‘Mera kuch saaman’ – Ijaazat 1991: ‘Yaara sili sili’ – Lekin… Best Screenplay – Koshish (1972)
Grammy AwardsBest Song Written For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media – ‘Jai Ho’ – Slumdog Millionaire (2010)
Other awards Padma Bhushan (2004) Sahitya Akademi Award – Dhuan (“smoke”; short stories in Urdu) (2002)
As lyricist(* indicates unreleased/under production)
Raavan Ishqiya Veer Kaminey Billu Barber Dumkata Slumdog Millionaire for Jai Ho Yuvvraaj No Smoking Shafaq Just Married Jhoom Barabar Jhoom Jaan-E-Mann Guru Sabab* Blue Umbrella Omkara Yahaan Paheli Bunty Aur Babli Raincoat Chupke Se Maqbool Pinjar Saathiya Makdee Dil Vil Pyar Vyar Lal Salam Leela Filhaal… Asoka Aks Fiza Khubsoorat Hu Tu Tu Jahan Tum Le Chalo Dil Se Satya Chachi 420 Aastha Maachis Daayraa Mammo Rudaali Maya Memsaab Lekin… Libaas Ijaazat Ek Pal Jeeva Ghulami Tarang Masoom Sadma Angoor Namkeen Sitam Naram Garam Baseraa Sitara Thodisi Bewafaii Khubsoorat Swayamvara Griha Pravesh Gol Maal Ratnadeep Ghar Devata Khatta Meetha Palkon Ki Chhaon Mein Gharaonda Kinara Shaque Aandhi KhushbooMausam Doosri Sita Parichay Koshish Anubhav Guddi Mere Apne Seema Anand Khamoshi Rahgir Aashirwad Do Dooni Chaar Biwi Aur Makaan Sannata Purnima Bandini Prem Patra Kabuliwala Shriman Satyawadi Swami Vivekananda The Jungle Book (TV series)
Other collaborative projects
Dil Padosi Hai (with Asha Bhosle and Rahul Dev Burman) Sunset Point (with Vishal Bhardwaj, Bhupinder and Chitra Singh). Vadaa (with Amjad Ali Khan) Ishqa Ishqa (with Vishal Bhardwaj) Main Aur Mera Saaya (with Bhupen Hazarika) Udaas Pani (with Abhishek Ray and Jagjit Singh) Visaal (with Ghulam Ali) Koi Baat Chale (with Jagjit Singh; songs written in Triveni) Marasim (with Jagjit Singh) Raat Chand Aur Main (with Abhishek Ray) Amrita Pritam recited by Gulzar (tribute to Amrita Pritam) Kabir By Abida Parween recited by Gulzar