There is something that touches your heart when you meet people like Gulzar. Sometimes it’s his very Sufi like being – dressed in all crisp whites, his smile, his silence or even how he remembers people he has met for a short time. It could be his aura or the effect of having read his poetry, books or his many songs. It could be a sum of many things but one thing is constant – the feeling that they don’t make people like that anymore.

A wonderful lyricist, poet, writer and director, Gulzar has seen music evolve from transistor to Iphone/itunes age and though rooted in his world, he keeps up and continues to influence, motivate and work with the younger generation of musicians. The music composers Shankar Ehsaan Loy of his recent film Kill Dil vouch for the comfort level he creates with the people he works with.


Deconstructing the role of a lyric writer he says, “A lyricist is like any other technician in the film.”

He adds, “Like there are several takes with the lighting and for the actors in front of the camera, similarly there are multiple drafts and amendments of the songs. It has to be taken in that spirit.”

Gulzar reveals that when he is writing songs for any particular film his inspiration comes from the script of the film alone. He says, “I am not writing an independent poem. What I am writing is drawn from the characters and their relationships. The hero in this film is very different and the relationship they share is very enticing.”

Giving an example of a song he has composed that was filmed on Govinda, he says he had to bring about the pain and cruelty in equal measures because he has brought up the two kids (Ranveer Singh and Ali Zafar) in the film. “My muse is created in understanding how do you tackle that relationship between Govinda, Ranveer and Ali. The instigation and creativity entirely lies there.”

Gulzar feels that normal love songs picturised for a couple are easy compared to the challenge in writing words for ‘more complex characters’.

In one of the songs, ‘Sweeta…’ which is sung by Adnan Sami, one also hears Gulzar’s voice. Ask him how he agreed to use his voice, he says, “In the composition of the song, Shaad wanted to start with an adlib and even the music directors agreed to do the same. They worked out a form by which before the music starts, it was necessary to have a certain adlib narration. Hence I wrote those couplets matching to the song. And that’s how I decided to use my voice for the song. It was completely Shaad’s decision. When it becomes Shaad’s discretion and he is keen on it, it is welcome. I admire his work.”

Gulzar has worked with Shaad on three films Saathiya, Bunty Aur Babli and Jhoom Barabar Jhoom before Kill Dil and is fond of the director’s work and yet he has never done any film with him or any other director without a full script in hand. He says, “I loved the title of the film.”

Talking about Shaad and the importance of a bound script even to create lyrics for a film, Gulzar says, “Shaad by principle works out his films before he starts. Before he begins filming, his scripts are ready from the first to the last word. And that’s what I like and respect about him. Whichever film you are associating yourself with, you must be well versed with the story and genre of the film.”

Kill Dil Title Song

Kill Dil

Having worked as a director on films like Aandhi, Hu Tu Tu, Maachis among others earlier, Gulzar says he understands the medium and goes with the script to create the lyrics of the songs. He adds, “Script is important to the characters too. Not every character will speak the same way and thus, every character cannot sing the same way. If every character is speaking differently, they are naturally singing distinctly. I must match the language of the song to the dialogue of the character.”

Ask him how he chooses the projects he works on in general or why he said yes to Kill Dil. Is it his previous working history with Shaad that gives him the kind of confidence he shows in his films?​ Gulzar replies,When Shaad first approached me with the script, there were a few things I did not like. He reworked on the script of the film. That is what is sharing a script and sharing a film. Since I have shared this journey with him, I had a few reservations about the script. He agreed with me and  accepted my opinions and that’s why he reworked on the script. When he got back to me with a revised script, I liked it very much.”

Raving about the film’s script Gulzar says, “The energy of his characters and the film latched me to it. This is Shaad’s specialty. In Bunty and Bubbly, his characters sold the Taj Mahal and his ability is that with the same conviction he sold the Taj Mahal to the audiences as well. It’s that kind of energy that I like in his films.”

​Does Shaad too give him feedback and ask him to change lines when he deems necessary? “A director and a lyricist’s relationship is symbiotic. In songs also, a number of times I give out the story, I give​ out the lines and he reacts to it and asks me to change the lines. There are times we react on a tune by Shankar Ehsaan Loy. We often consider whether the songs are becoming too grim or it’s becoming too light. The songs are an expression of music; it is not about a bad tune or a good tune, a bad song or a good song. It’s about what matches with the film which equates to what matches with the situation,” says Gulzar.

He calls his music composers as “wonderful, spontaneous three musketeers. That’s the most beautiful part of working with them. Shankar is a problem to handle sometimes. When I give him a line, he will quickly make a tune and it’s easy to be swayed by his tunes. I have to be very careful, keep the words polished and intact because the tunes come so easily and so naturally to him. He asks me to change the words sometimes and whatever he creates goes so beautifully with the situation and the film’s flavour.”

– Priyanka Jain​