Mutual admiration club
In a recent interview, Gulzar's daughter Meghna Gulzar had shared that if there is anyone who understands her father's poetry and writings the most, it's Salim Arif. "I can second that opinion and sign below," says Gulzar with a smile.
He and Salim have shared a long association of almost 25 years and the two are back with a modern look at Yudhishtir and Draupadi’s relationship in a new play. The duo speak to CS about the play and their mutual admiration for each other:
A modern vision
Salim: The idea of looking at a relationship between Draupadi and Yudhishtir was the first draw. There are so many plays on Mahabharta but to find someone focusing on this relationship and giving it a very contemporary feel, was very interesting for us. This is not a mythological in a mythological sense. It's a very modern vision. It is acceptance of Yudhishtir by Draupadi.
Gulzar: This going into the minds of the characters is the modern approach. Writer Pawan Kumar Varma looked at this relationship with a differnt perspective and I tried to interpret it. It’s Salim who has given it the full shape.
Gulzar: Salim has not only seen me working, he’s seen the process of my work. He understands why do I write and how do I write. Secondly, he knows my intentions and my outlook on society. I see him as the only director who has a cause in his plays. Even when he does my adapted plays, there’s a perspective that he brings to them. That is what I like and that is what we share. And that’s why, I second Boski’s opinion. She knows I have never shared my work with anyone except Salim.
Salim: There is a comfort level we share. Also there is knowledge that whatever I get is of great value because this quality of writing is not there in mainstream Hindi or Urdu writing. The understanding of human psyche is what I find really interesting. Also, the quality of not being judgemental, that’s very rare in a writer.
Give and take
Salim: His contribution in my career has been immense!
Gulzar: Main umar se bada hoon, so I had more years to learn. When Salim asked me for my writings for the first play that he did, I didn’t know how it will take shape. And the way he gave it that collage form — I didn’t know that form of play! That’s where I started following him and that’s where I started learning from him. Even this new play, he surprised me with its musical form. That’s the most beautiful part of two people working together, that there’s always something new to amaze you.