Wouldn’t it be great? To live next door to Gulzar Saab? 

Sometimes it seems that all I want is to sit next to Gulzar Saab on Marine Drive & just listen to him.

Or maybe, just take a drive with him on the Sealink. Me driving & him reciting his poems.

To quote Gulzaar Saab:

“Doobi aankhon mein sapnon ke saaye, raat bhar apne din mein paraye.”

But there’s no point in repressing these dreams today, August 18- Gulzaar Saab’s Birthday. Today is the day to celebrate them. Luckily, this year, the day falls on a Sunday. So, I have this luxury to listen to his songs & read his poems.

While doing this I decided to make a list. 

Oh! I must tell you that I have this undiagnosed borderline OCD with making Top Ten Lists. Like,

Top ten fictional characters I would like to date.

Top ten books I would like to live in.

Top ten reasons why I am never buying an Anita Dongre dress again.

You got the picture, right?

Anyway, so I sat to compile a list of the ‘Top Ten Poems/Songs of Gulzar Saab that I Love’. That’s when I realized ‘What the hell was I thinking! Getting my virginity back is more feasible than this.’

Still, I didn’t give up. So, after a whole day of listening & reading & chewing the back of the cap of my pen & pulling my hair; this is the list I am almost happy with.

Now that I examine & analyse my choices, I’ve made a very interesting observation. You must make note of it, or else this list won’t make any sense to you.

I observed that this list comes straight from my heart. It is totally biased & plagued with emotions. The choices that I’ve made here have got nothing to do with the genius of his craft but they are here because of the emotional value they have in my life.

Come to think of it, it’s good this way. I mean, who am I to rank & select & compile Gulzar Saab’s work? I don’t have the intellectual bandwidth to that. This list is about TOP TEN SONGS/POEMS OF GULZAR SAAB THAT I LOVE. So let’s just keep it all about love. 

Here, enjoy my favorites:


10. Tere Utare Hue Din

In a forgetful movie ‘Dus Kahaniyan’ Gulzar Saab wrote this poem for a kahani called ‘Gubbare’. I have seen that movie. But I missed the poem. The movie was so unbearable that by the time this story came, I had moved on to food zone & momos.

Years later, I met this European guy in a library. He saw me reading a poetry book & approached to me saying, “There’s this Hindi poem that I really love. I can’t understand a word of it but I sense a melancholy that touches me. The resonance of the words is haunting. Could please translate it for me?” 

And with that translation I found one of the sweetest friends of my life. And, I owe it all to Gulzar Saab & this poem.

9. Aaj Kal Paon Zammen Par

Some say, it’s impossible to be a bad bathroom singer. And, I say that those people haven’t met me. So, imagine my surprise when one day my younger brother Whatsapped me this song & wrote “I like it better in your voice. I miss the way you used to sing it all around in the house all the time. Please record it & send.”

I guess enough said.

8. Mora Gora Aang Lai Le 

You know how in Sufi & Bhakti women always say ‘Rang De’. In this song, for the first time, a girl spoke to God like an equal & said I have got something to give you if you give me something in return. Deal?

You see how this song brought a revolution in Bhakti movement by emancipating a woman.

Yup, am a feminist.

7. From ‘Raat Pashmine Ki’

Like they say I put pro in procrastination. I am the uncrowned reigning queen of lazy people. This poem is the story of my life.

“Mujhe karchi mein poora ek din, har roz milta hai

Magar har roz koi cheen leta hai,

Jhapat leta hai, anti se

Kabhi kheese si gir padta hai, toh girne ki

Aahat bhi nahi hoti

Khare din ko bhi khota samajh kar bhool jata hoon main.

Girebaan se pakad kar maangne waale bhi milte hain.

“Teri guzari hui pushton ka karza hai, tujhe kishte chukani hain”

Zabardast koi girwi rakh leta hai, yeh keh kar

Abhi 2-4 lamhe kharch karne ke liye rakh le,

Bakaya umar ke khaate mein likh dete hain,

Jab hoga hisaab hoga.

Badi hasrat hai poora ek fin ik baar main

Apne liye rakh loon

Tumhare saath poora ek din,

Bas kharch

Karne ki tamanna hai”

6.  Potli Baba Ki

This song is my childhood. In the evenings just after game time, there used to be  this story show called ‘Potli Baba Ki’ on Doordarshan. It was the time when my mother would come back from work. Always, in between this song, the bell would ring & Maa would be home.

5. Chaadi Pahan Ke Phool Khila Hai

Again childhood. Sunday-no study day. Parents home. The minute this song would come, my brother & I would climb on bed & start dancing.  This is my ultimate happy song. Till this day, I can never sing this song without jumping & clapping.

4. Tap Tap Topi Topi (Alice in Wonderland)

It’s Gulzar Saab meets Lewis Carroll, what’s not there to like. However, that’s not why I love this song.

I was a kid when in Doordarshan on Sunday mornings they showed the animated version of ‘Alice In Wonderland’. I was really small okay. So don’t laugh when I say that I believed that the one who sings the song is the one who writes, composes, like does everything about the song.

So, one day I walked up to my father & said, “Papa, I am going to marry this boy who sings Alice In Wonderland’s song. Look at it, ‘Tap tap topi topi top mein jo dobe’! I have never heard more beautiful words put together in a prettier fashion.”

That’s when my father introduced me to the concept of a lyricist & a composer. Then he showed me a picture of Gulzar Saab & said that this is the guy I should be marrying in that case. Well, at that time I rejected him saying, “He’s too old & who wears white! That’s not even a color”. Like I said, I was really small at that time.

Anyway, so this song is my formal introduction to Gulzar Saab. This is when the fan was born.

3. Hazaar Rahein Mudke Dekhein

“Tumhe yeh zidd thi ki hum bulate, humein yeh umeed ki woh pukare.

Hain naam hoonthon pe ab bhi lekin awaaz mein pad gayi daraarein.”

Isn’t this exactly what we go through, each time we fight with the one we love? You know, we want to pick the phone & write that text or make that call but “awaaz mein pad gayi daraarein”. I can relate with every single word of this song. This is my ultimate break up/fight song. I cry to this since it says everything that’s in my heart & in the most beautiful way possible.

“Jo raat humein guzaring marke woh raat tumne guzaring hoti”

2. Main Tenu Phir Milangi

I know that this is an Amrita Pritam’s poem. But listen to this.

So, once upon I time, a guy I really loved had to go away from me. Like far far away. I wasn’t even sure if we could talk on phone. I was sure he would come back. I just didn’t know when. It was suffocating, I couldn’t breathe. And then, randomly a friend introduced me to this poem. It was Amrita Pritam’s words in Gulzar Saab’s voice. By the time the poem finished, I was red nosed & moist eyed. But I was calm. It wasn’t just the words which did the magic but also the way they were rendered by Gulzar Saab. Such a loving & assuring rendition.

1. Kitabein Jhankti Hain

On a Sunday like this, a friend had saved the best place for me at Mehboob Studio, at 8:30 am, where Gulzar Saab stood before me reciting this poem. And the topic of the poem was my favorite thing in the world, BOOKS!

The first time I met him. The first time I heard him reciting in person. And he was talking about books. Such an obvious choice for the number one in my list.

“Kitaabain jhankti hain
band almari k sheeshoon se
bhari hasrat se takti hain
maheenon ab mulaqaatain nahi hoti
jo shamaain un ki suhbaat main katta karti thein
ab aksar guzar jati hain
computer k pardoon par

bari bay chain rehti hain kitaabain
inhain ab neend main chalnay ki aadat hogai hay
bari hasrat se takti hain
jo qadrain jo woh sunatein thein
k jin k sal kabhi martay nahi thay
woh qadrain ab nazar aati nahi ghar main

jo rishtay woh sunati thein
woh saray udhrhay udhrhay hain
koi safha palat ta hoon to ik siski nikalti hay ——–
kai lafzoon k mainee gir paray hain
bina patoon k sookhay dhund lagtay hain woh sab alfaaz
jin pe ab koi maani nahi hotay
bohat sii istalhain hain jo matti k sokorron ki tarah bikhri pari hain
classon main unhain makri ka dala
zaban pe jo aata tha zaiqa safhay paltnay ka
ab ungli click karnay se aik jhapki guzarti hay
bohat sa teh ba teh khulta chala jata hay
kitaboon se jo zaati rabta tha
kat gaya hay
kabhi seenay par rakh kar lait jatay thay
kabhi goudi main laytay thay
kabhi guthnoon ko apnay rehal ki sorat bana kar
neem sajday main parha kartay thay
chotay thay jabeen se
Khuda nay chaha to woh sara ilm milta rahay ga
baad main bhi
magar woh jo kitaabon main mila kartay thay
sookhay phool ———
kitabain mangnay
girnay uthanay ke bahanay rishtay
bantay thay un ka kia hoga!”
woh shayad…… ab nahiin hoon gay!!
Kitaabain Jhankti Hain”