When we finally managed to catch up with Gulzar at the launch of his new music album with vocalist Bhupinder Singh, the 78-year-old veteran poet-lyricist-director was busy shooing off media persons who were requesting for one-on-ones. “I have answered everything in the press conference. Don’t bother me now,” was his refrain. After much cajoling, the affable Gulzar finally gave in to our request. An excerpt:
Do you feel that love for poetry is on the decline in Bollywood?
No, I don’t think so. I feel that modern lyricists are trying to cater to the popular demand of the masses. They write different songs as and when they get an opportunity. However, I have noticed that general love for literature and poetry is dwindling among the public. Forget lyricists, even journalists can’t think of questions that go beyond Bollywood.
Tell us about your association with Bhupinder Singh over the years?
When both of us met for the first time, we were young and restless. In fact, we led quite a bohemian lifestyle. Now, we have matured as individuals and that change is reflecting in our work. Our friendship has also evolved for the better. Other than that, both of us have grown old and have white hair (laughs out loud).
What differences have you noticed in him as a singer and composer?
I feel Mitali (Bhupinder’s wife) has brought a lot of changes in him (laughs out loud). The sense of stability in his life is reflected in his music. There’s a lot more therav. He still has the same love for melody and poetry like in his earlier days. At the same time, he’s very open-minded in his approach.
Tell us something about Bhupinder that we don’t know?
He is a total foodie. In fact, both of us bond over food. And he is a cheat. From the first composition he gives me to compose for and to the last one, there are so many variations. At times, the final product is vastly different (smiles). That’s why I say he’s a cheat. In fact, most creative people are.
Your current album captures the night beautifully. Why that time of the day?
Throughout the day, you are surrounded by noise and commotion of all kinds. However, night is the only period when you are listening to your own thoughts. I guess creative people find it easier to introspect and get inspired during the night.
And for you?
No, I write throughout the day. My day lasts for 36 hours (laughs). You can say that writing lyrics is like religious chanting at times, you lose track of time. Thankfully, my health doesn’t pose any problems considering the long hours I spend sitting down at one place and writing.