Lessons in life from Gulzar.

I had bought the cassette from a posh music store on Birhana Road in Kanpur on my 13th birthday. I had heard one of its songs on TV and had fallen in love with the poetry. Lucky for me, my birthday was close and I could arm-twist my uncle into buying it for me as a present. Thus came about my formal introduction with Gulzar, the man who would teach me many a life lesson.

Indian filmaker, author, lyricist and Dadasaheb Phalke, the highest award in the field of Indian cinema,...

I had bought the cassette from a posh music store on Birhana Road in Kanpur on my 13th birthday. I had heard one of its songs on TV and had fallen in love with the poetry. Lucky for me, my birthday was close and I could arm-twist my uncle into buying it for me as a present. Thus came about my formal introduction with Gulzar, whose birthday happens to fall on August 18. 

For the next 10 years, until I married a music aficionado who introduced me to a lot more of Gulzar and RD Burman, the tape remained my friend, philosopher and guide. It taught me about love and life: between the two sides you had everything from falling in love, to romance, to longing, and of course philosophy. (How can you not have a generous dose of philosophy when you have Gulzar writing the songs?)null

It is difficult to pin-point which side was my favourite though. For on one side you had poetic masterpieces like “Tujhse Naaraaz Nahi Zindagi” and “Do Naina Ek Kahani“– songs that summarise life for you in less than two minutes, while on the other you had lyrical gems like “Aapki Aankhon Mein Kuch” and “Phir Wahi Raat Hai“, songs that are epitome of romanticism. 

“When I fell in love, I hummed ‘Aajkal Paaon Zamin Pe Nahi Padte Mere’, sometimes smiling, sometimes blushing to myself. When I longed for my love, I found peace in ‘Tere Bina Jiya Jaye Na’…”

At different points in my life, I found myself attracted to different songs. And while the music was beautiful, it was the poetry that I was attached to most. When I was dejected I found peace in the philosophy of “Tujhse Naraaz Nahi Zindagi” which sums up the ironies of life. When I was heartbroken I listened to “Do Naina Ek Kahani“. Oh! how beautifully Gulzar describes it: Thoda sa badal, thoda sa pani, aur ek kahani” — true what is life but a long story?

When I fell in love, I hummed “Aajkal Paaon Zamin Pe Nahi Padte Mere“, sometimes smiling, sometimes blushing to myself. When I longed for my love, I found peace in “Tere Bina Jiya Jaye Na” (it is another story that I was found singing “Do Naina” soon after). In the rare event that my love was realised, I indulged in “Aapki Aankhon Mein Kuch” — a playful duet by Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar. The song remains one of my all-time favourites and the only Lata Mangeshkar song I can sing well, even now.

And then life happened. Suddenly I was uprooted from my comfort zone and planted in a strange place where there was no time for love, romance, philosophy or poetry. Life became an endless cycle of work, home, family, chores, and then children followed. Ghar and Masoom were now like long-forgotten friends — I thought of them sometimes, but never felt the need to go back to them. 

Last week, when I found myself alone at home for two full days after a very, very long gap, I was reminded of my long lost love for the album. For the past two days I have been learning life’s lessons afresh. Yet again from the master of the craft — Gulzar.

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