An evening of conversation, in Hyderabad, sharing trivia and highlighting elements of Gulzar’s oeuvre came as a refreshing way to spend a Saturday for many a fan of the poet-filmmaker. The event jointly hosted by Kalakriti Art Gallery and Harper Collins India to launch Sathya Saran’s book Gulzar’s Angoor delved deeper into the man Gulzar and his sense of humour that ranges from rib-tickling mirth to guffaws.
Writer-columnist Sathya Saran, who was roped in by Harper Collins India to be a part of a trilogy on Gulzar’s cinema — on Aandhi, Angoor and Ijaazat — had been keen on writing about Ijaazat, a nuanced film that had a compelling story, music, visual poetry that added to the actors’ craft, strong women characters, but was assigned Angoor instead. Sharing insights with Bimal Roy’s daughter Aparajita Sinha that evening, Sathya Saran says, “I am glad I did it. I wrote a book about a film that does not rely on sentiment, but a situational comedy. Gulzar is a goldmine. ‘Maine film bana diya (I have made the film), movie goers have given the term classic,’ he’d say,” she recalls, adding that writing the book took her a year but the printing got delayed as the one Ijaazat took time.
Aparajita recalled Gulzar’s association with her father Bimal Roy: “Gulzar and Basu Chatterjee were my father’s assistants. Gulzar assisted my father in a song in Bandini, for which he always expressed his gratitude. Gulzar had written the script of Amrit Ke Khoj and when my father was unwell, he led the shooting.”
Sathya shares that Angoor, based on Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors, was first made in Bengali, titled Bhrantibilas in 1963, and later in Italian, Korean and many other languages. Says Sathya, “When Gulzar wanted to make Angoor, he approached a producer, who apparently told him that hit films ke remake banthe hain, flop films ke nahin (remakes of hit films are made, not of flops).” But that did not deter him and Jai Singh agreed to produce the 1982 film which has many layers of comedy; each time one views it, a new meaning comes to the fore, according to Sathya.
Film clips from Angoor were screened, including one where the lead actor Sanjeev Kumar is reading a book in a train, which talks about the use of pun, sound and music. The director had given the credit to lead actor for essaying the role to perfection. “I had watched the film seven times, before I got to the nuances and it was a good journey,” says the Sathya. Aparajita adds, “Gulzar’s films are memorable and Sanjeev Kumar was a tongue in cheek actor. Gulzar had seen Sanjeev in plays and one day, the actor asked the director, ‘kya main budha he dikhta hoon (do I always look like an old man?)’. That is when the director offered him Angoor.”
If Angoor were to be remade, who would play the character of Sanjeev Kumar? Sathya reveals that a play version with Swanand Kirkire was staged, but the film will not be remade as Sanjeev can’t be replaced. On the film being named Angoor, as there is no mention of it in the film, Sathya gently puts it that Gulzar’s films have been titled without the place or origin of the story being given away and every film of his has a brand recall.
On the use of the song ‘Pritam Aan Milo’ as a code between Sanjeev Kumar and Deven Varma, the author guesses that the character Ashok has probably grown up with his mother in a rural background and has seen his mother hearing old songs.