Because We Are: A Portrait of My Father

Gulzar and Meghna Gulzar in conversation with Shantanu Ray Chaudhuri
Presented by RED FM

When we think of Gulzar, we think of a multi-award-winning filmmaker, lyricist, writer and poet whose work has inspired millions of aspiring creatives. When MeghnaGulzarthinks of him, she thinks of an involved father who has been her friend, confidante and biggest champion. This father-daughter dynamic and the many ways it has shaped each of them creatively, personally and professionally was up for discussion on the inaugural day of the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival.

In her first stint at the festival, Meghna spoke at length about what it was like to grow up with a father whose writing is revered across the globe. And if that wasn’t enough pressure, the filmmaker also had the added responsibility of penning her father’s biography, Because He Is…

So, how did she manage to toe the line between being personal and objective? She didn’t. “I’m actually proud of the subjectivity that is in the book,” explained Meghna. “There’s an emotionality that makes it more honest writing. It doesn’t feel like it’s being censored, self-censored or edited in any way.”

The duo also took a walk down memory lane, reliving some of their fondest memories with each other. The one that evoked the most resounding response from the audience was the reading of a poem that a young Meghna had written for her father when he refused to give her some money:

‘I have a father who gives me money.
I’d hate him not rather, he loves me as honey.
I love my father too,
he polishes my shoe.
He’s sometimes sweet, sometimes funny,
but today, I want money, so away he is running!’

While Gulzar may have turned his daughter away that one time, she had nothing but wonderful things to say about the maestro’s parenting. Praising his ability to strike the right balance between being a friend and a parent, she added, “He always talked to me… He never talked down to me.” What did her father have to say? “I hope she does the same to Samay,” quipped the doting grandfather, who likened his grandson to the sun around which the family revolves.

As for those wondering how parents can build as equal and meaningful a relationship with their children as he has, Gulzar imparted some invaluable advice. “Your own behaviour will be imbibed in your child,” he noted, adding that everyone must get the chance to grow up with the complete faith and trust that their parents believe in them.

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