Gulzar: Adabi sariqa par Dada Sahab Phalke Award!


Sampooran Singh Kalra Gulzar’s selection for Dada Sahab Phalke award should be seen as an acknowledgement of Urdu as he’s the last surviving exponent of that culture and refinement Urdu is so bound up with. Though the connoisseurs of Urdu poetry never considered him to be a great Urdu poet, his knowledge of Urdu is indeed admirable. In the desert of Bollywood cinema and its cacophonous music that reminds one of the shrieks produced by two fighting cats, Gulzar is an oasis who brings a semblance of meaning and substance through his humdrum lyrics and average dialogues. Years ago, one of my friends from Pakistan, who happens to be a poet and critic, wrote in a Pakistani Urdu daily Millat  that Gulzar’s Urdu poetry was very much influenced by Meena Kumari’s poetry. The gentle critic didn’t use the word ‘plagiarism’ (adabi sariqa ; there’s no one word for plagiarism in Urdu but some Persian-knowing writers/speakers use the rare Persian word Rifazat for it) anywhere in his article but it gave the idea to a perceptive reader that most of Gulzar’s poetry was plagiarised from Meena Kumari’s desultory writings, who never cared for publishing her works and had immense faith in Gulzar with whom she was deeply in love before the rustic Dharmendra took her away. After Meena Kumari’s death, Gulzar manipulated her poetry and became a ‘poet par excellence’ in Bombay which didn’t see any great poet after the demise of Sahir, Majrooh and Kaifi. Yet I’m happy in the sense that Gulzar’s Dada Sahab Phalke is an acknowledgement of dying Urdu.

Lastly, can we look forward to Muhammad Rafi getting Dada Sahab Phalke award posthumously? If Prithviraj Kapoor could get 1971’s Dada Sahab posthumously (he died in 1972), why can’t Rafi? Even Sahir Ludhianavi should also get it posthumously after having penned remarkable songs for 700 odd films. Four stalwarts should have got it when they were alive. They were, Rafi, Sahir, S D Burman and Balraj Sahni. If a person like Bhupen Hazarika can get Dada Sahab Phalke, why did much more deserving candidates never get it? Everyone knows that it was government’s appeasement policy towards the North East  as Hazarika was an Assamese and had strong political connexions.     

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 May 2014 on page no. 2

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