Gulzar participated in an in-conversation with his fans on Thursday.
Moments ahead of his in-conversation with radio jockey Gagan Mudgal at the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF), India’s finest poet, lyricist and filmmaker Gulzar gave a sweeping look at the audience, and said: “If only my films too had drawn such crowd.”
Gulzar participated in an in-conversation with his fans on Thursday. Apart from the numerous film awards he has won in India, Gulzar is also the recipient of an Academy Award and a Grammy for his song Jai Ho from the film Slumdog Millionaire. His poems, literature and films reflect the same quiet yet sharp observations on the life of the multitudes.
The Indian lyricist, writer, filmmaker and translator shed light on his creative process to a captivated audience. Gulzar expressed his happiness at finally being able to experience Sharjah as well as the SIBF. “I am very happy to be here and experience the friendliness of this emirate and its people,” he said. “It was such a pleasure just reading the theme of the SIBF: ‘Open Books, Open Minds’. So lovely and so true.”
Gulzar narrated an incident from his childhood in Delhi, India, that pointed him towards writing. “As a young boy, I was very fond of reading thrillers,” he said.
“An old man in our neighbourhood used to run a lending library. You could read all the books you wanted for 4 annas (Dh0.01) a week. I read so quickly that I ran out of books. So, he gave me a large volume of poems by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore to keep me busy. When I read it, I was hooked for life, and never looked back.”
Gulzar said he learnt Bengali to read the original writings of Tagore and ended up translating many of his poems into Hindi. “My latest translation project ‘A Poem a Day’, which will be published soon by Harper Collins aims at amplifying the voice of young and dynamic poets writing in different languages and dialects from across the country. I have already finished translating 279 poems from 34 languages,” he said.
“I am fascinated by the sheer dynamism of poetry coming from different parts of the country, especially the North-Eastern states. Translations help preserve the cultural identity of the original work.”
He had a word of advice to budding writers: Never stop reading. “When you read 100 pages you will possibly be inspired to write a page. As your writing increases, you may notice that your reading comes down. This, in the end, will tell on your writing. Keep reading. It is the fuel for your writing.”
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