Gulzar - As a Director

Gulzar sa'ab lyrical genius is not limited to the wonderful poetry he writes, his works are a joy to behold, even when he creates the imagery on the celluloid. In his vast cinematic journey, he has directed over a dozen of full length films. His craftmanship as a director lay in the fact that he presented the kind of movies which portray the human emotions in an extraordinary way. His lyrical genius is reflected in the characters of his films. His films have a special place in the hearts of cinephiles. A brief record of his directorial venture is compiled for your reference.

1. Mere Apne [1971]

Mere Apne

The directorial debut of Gulzar, starred Meena Kumar, Vinod Khanna, Shatrughan Sinha, Asrani etc.It was a remake of benagli film Apanjan, directed by Tapan Sinha. The film is about an old lady who develops fondness for two rival street gangs of unemployed youth. These gangs are headed by two former friends turned foes in a time when society, politics and education are all losing their bearings in 1970s India. The film beautifully portrays how disillusioned unemployed youth get disaffected from society and education and become pawns in the game of politics.

2. Parichay [1972]


Inspired by the Bengali novel, Rangeen Uttarain and the Hollywood movie The Sound of Music, Parichay came as a huge surprise. It portrayed the hero in a simple character, who, with his simplicity tried to mend the gap between the members of a family. The lyrical sensibility of Gulzar was masterfully portrayed. It was Gulzar's first film with R D Burman, as a music composer. The songs became immensely popular and the team went on create some beautiful musical renditions, in the years to come. The Song 'Beetey Na Bitaayi Raina' won the National award for the best playback.

3. Koshish [1972]


Koshish was a deeply moving tale about a deaf and mute couple and their conflicts, pain and struggle to carve out a niche for themselves in a desensitized society. Gulzar won the National award for the best screenplay and Sanjeev Kumar won the best actor award. Koshish is considered as one of the most sensitive works of Gulzar. Film starred Sanjeev Kumar, Jaya Bhaduri, Dina Pathak, Asrani etc.

4. Achanak [1973]


Inspired by the famous 1958 murder case KM Nanavati v State of Maharashtra, Achanak starred Vinod Khanna in the lead role. The gripping tale is still considered as one of the finest crime dramas. Gulzar's sensitivity about his films can be measured from the fact that he used no songs in the film.

5. Khushboo [1974]


Khushboo was based on a novel, “Panditmashai” by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay. Gulzar, once again, presented Jeetendra in very middle-class pant-shirt with a pencil-thin moustache and thick-rimmed glasses. No swagger, no untamed energy, just a self-contained portrayal of a doctor in rural India. Somewhat similar to “Parichay” but simply unrecognisable from the Jumping Jack he was dubbed by many. Film starred Hema Malini, Sharmila Tagore, Asrani among others. The film revolved around the Child Marriage theme, where a young girl thrives to win back her childood husband. R D Burman's composed the soundtrack brilliantly. Kishore Kumar's rendition of O Manjhi Re..pierces ones heart, and the music in the background conveys the pathos of a companion left behind.

6. Aandhi [1975]


Aandhi arrived amidst controversy. It was believed that the film was based on the life of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. A poster in South India even declared, “See your Prime Minister on screen”. This was a political drama but Gulzar dealt it with utmost sensitivty. Gulzar masterfully portrayed a woman torn between an ambitious father and a husband who has no lust or time for politics or its perks. Aandhi was based on Kamleshwar's novel 'Kaali Aandhi'. The films is still remembered for the outstanding performances by Suchitra Sen and Sanjeev Kumar and obviously, for the melodiuos soundtrack by R D Burman.

7. Mausam [1976]


Another masterpiece by Gulzar came in 1975. Aandhi and Mausam were shot together. With Aandhi landing into the contoversy, Mausam landed into the theatres first. Both the films saw Sanjeev Kumar in a grey haired matured man's role. The film was a huge success. The songs became very popular especially, Dil Dhoondhta Hai and Ruke Ruke Se Kadam. Madan Mohan's music was beautifully done. For the first time, Gulzar sought the help of a dedicated choreographer to film a song. Mausam won,Gulzar, National award for the best director.

8. Kinara [1977]


Ziya Us Salam, in one of his articles in The Hindu, summed Kinara up in a few words. 'Beautiful is not quite the word for it. Melancholic? A film that conveys the joy of being sad? A shade closer but it does not quite sum up Gulzar’s “Kinara”, a film that can be seen on a long, lonely afternoons. Not to drive away anguish or soak in sorrow but merely to understand that there are others who have similarly experienced the pathos, the angst of love. It is a feeling that lives, no breathes, through every frame of this film that does the unexpected in the most unpredictable of ways'. R D Burman's supreme musical effort was another landmark for the poetry in motion by Gulzar.

9. Kitaab [1978]


The film starred Master Raju, Uttam Kumar, Vidya Sinha, Shreeram Lagoo, Keshto Mukherjee and Asit Sen. The film was based on Bengali story Pathik by Samaresh Basu. The film revolved around a 12 year old kid who runs away from his home as he thinks no one understands him. The film is beautifully done and sensibly written. Master Raju carries the whole film on his shoulders and shines like a star. The film could not do well at the box office but it is undoubtedly one of the best works of Gulzar. The soundtrack, once again, by the great R D Burman, was outstanding. There were no big singers involved but the outcome is pure genius. He even made the veteran, Rajkumari sing a song..Hari Din to Beeta Raat Huyi..which is just beyond the words.

10. Angoor [1980]


Angoor was about two pairs of identical twins separated at birth and how their lives go haywire when they meet in adulthood. Angoor was a remake of the Kishore Kumar starrer 'Do Dooni Char' which was a remake of 1963 Bengali comedy film Bhrantibilas, that is based on Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar's Bengali novel by the same name, which itself is based on Shakespeare's play The Comedy of Errors. Angoor starred Sanjeev Kumar and Deven Verma is double roles, Mausami Chatterji, Deepti Naval, Yunus Khan, Aruna Irani etc. Angoor was Gulzar's maiden effort in Comedy genre an it was spot on. Gulzar's genius is reflected in each and every dialouge and character of the film. It is indeed one of the must watch films of Gulzar!

11. Namkeen [1981]


Another great work of cinema by Gulzar saab. Namkeen came in 1982. With Namkeen Gulzar portrayed very sensitive but untouched aspects of Indian society especially in rural areas. It was based on Akal Basant by Samaresh Basu on whose story, Gulzar had previously made Kitaab (1977). Namkeen starred Sanjeev Kumar, Sharmila Tagore, Shabana Azmi and Waheeda Rehmaan. Gulzar's strength lies in the characterization and Namkeen is an excellent example of his craftsmanship. Film's music was done by R D Burman and the song 'Phir Se Aaiyo Barda Bidesi' by Asha Bhosle is beyond words can express. Sheer magic!

12. Meera [1981]


With the film, Gulzar brings alive the legend of Meera with his magical prowess, extracting a moving accomplishment from Hema Malini as the protagonist of the subject. The film is based on the life of Meera, a Hindu saint-poet who renounced princely comforts in pursuit of her love for Lord Krishna. The film portrays the life and times of Meera from a historical perspective rather than a mythological one. Through Meera's life, Gulzar has shown a woman's struggle to find her independence, dignity and spiritual satisfaction in a society where women are supposed to be worthy of only taking care of the household chores. The epic soundtrack by Pt. Ravi Shankar features the lilting dulcet tones of the award-winning playback singer Vani Jairam, the tunes of which resound in every memory that reveres this winning combination of film music.

13. Ijaazat [1986]


Ijaazat was based on a Bengali story, Jatugriha by Subodh Ghosh. Starring Rekha, Naseeruddin Shah and Anuradha Patel in leading roles, the film followed the story of couple who are separated and who accidentally meet in a railway station waiting room and discover some truths about their lives without each other. Ijaazat is indeed Gulzar's one of the best works, delicately handled and skilfully presented. Another gem by the duo Gulzar and R D Burman, who can forget, Mera Kuchh Saaman...

14. Lekin [1990]


Lekin was loosely based on the short story Kshudhit Pashaan by Rabindranath Tagore. Produced by Lata Mangeshkar, Lekin won five National awards — Best Playback Singer, Best Lyrics, Best Music Direction, Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design. Lekin starred Vindo Khanna, Dimple Kapadia, Amjad Khan in lead roles.

15. Libaas [1993]


The film was based on the short story Seema, published in collected stories in Raavi Paar. Libaas is about a married couple having extramarital relations and adultery. The film won critical acclaim in international film festivals, but has not been released in India to date. The soundtrak was done by R D Burman and became immensely popular. The film remain very close to Gulzar's heart but yet to find the light of the day. Libaas starred Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi, Raj Babbar etc.

16. Maachis [1996]


Maachis portrays the circumstances surrounding the rise of the Sikh insurgency in Punjab in the 1980s and traces the transformation of a youth from a boy next door to an angry person bent on wreaking vengeance, upon receiving gross injustice from the political system and sidelined being labelled as terrorist, to make it easy to kill him without any state accountability. The title of the film is used as a metaphor that conveys that the youth of any nation are matchsticks that could ignite due to deficiencies in the political and policing systems. It is considered as one of the best films of Gulzar, starring, Tabu, Chandrachur Singh and Om Puri in the lead roles.

17. Hu Tu Tu [1999]

Hu Tu Tu

Hu Tu Tu was the last film directed by Gulzar sa'ab. It released in 1999 and starred Sunil Shetty, Tabu, Nana Patekar in the lead roles. Hu Tu Tu was a political drama. The film did not do well at the box office, but, it is still remembered for the powerful performances of its lead cast. The film was about the game politics plays with the life of an ordinary, close-knit family.

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