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By August 13, 2018No Comments

Source : The Pioneer

Filmmaker Meghna Gulzar left the director’s seat aside to take up the pen and write about her poet father. She tells Asmita Sarkarabout Gulzar, the father, and what was it like to write about him from the lens of a daughter

Egalitarian, pampering and very respectful despite the age gap is how Meghna Gulzar describes her father, the famed filmmaker and poet Gulzar. She recently wrote Because He Is…, a book delving into the personal side of the reticent and media-shy poet. Like her father, she too likes to keep it simple and brief without any melodrama, she said. And, a conversation with her turned out to be exactly so, simple and brief.

You are so intimately in touch with the subject of the book. Is it a memoir or a biography?

I don’t know if this book can be a memoir or biography. It is about my father’s life, so it can’t be a memoir. Neither is it a comprehensive biography since you can’t have the biographer with such an emotional connect with the subject. The biographer should have some distance from the subject he/she is writing on. I would just look at the book as a documentation of his life and times, his thinking, his motivations from the lens of a daughter.

Where do the two of you converge and diverge as filmmakers?

I don’t know how to quantify the similarities or dissimilarities of our film-making process. We haven’t made a film together and neither have I compared his films and mine but the point where we converge is keeping our sensibilities simple and keeping it brief and not melodramatic. The similarity one sees in our  work is because of our personalities but our subjects have been very different so I don’t know if it’s the subject or the craft that is differing. Our films are not similar, our craft can’t be the same. It’s difficult to pinpoint where the difference lies.

When starting out as a filmmaker, was it difficult to create a space for yourself and come out from under his shadows?

I don’t think I have ever been associated with my father. If you look back, the way the media was writing about me or my films, there was never a comparison between my father and I. They didn’t say ‘she’s like this but her father was like that’ or ‘her film is like that and her father’s film was like that’. I don’t think that was there in the ether anywhere. It also has to do with the gap being almost 50 years between when my father started and me starting out. The times and the industry were very different when he was making films and I was breaking in.

In the book, you have said that after you were born your father accepted that he was a young father and tried to learn with you. Is that something you did as well?

I think it’s very important to learn from your child. The experience of being a parent grows and evolves as the child does, when its your first child particularly. It applies primarily to those with the first child and when the second child is born you know much more. You’ve gone through the drill before.

How different are you and your father in your approach towards parenting?

We are very different as parents. He is extremely lenient and pampering. My mother was the disciplinarian to keep a check on both of us. I have to do the same now with my son and him. I have to keep a check on him, my mother and my son. I think it’s a charming thing to do. I love the fact that I have to do it.

How did the book’s idea germinate?

I was asked to write the book by a different publisher almost a decade ago. After it went out of print, people kept asking about so we decided to update since a lot has been added to his life in the last decade.

I hope that people get a deeper insight into my father. However, everybody goes into films and books with pre-conceived expectations and it matters that it measures up to it.

There is lot that would be surprising for the readers since it has anecdotes that are not in public domain. That’s the advantage I have as being the daughter-author.

Did you censor yourself while writing the book?

I don’t think there was anything for which I thought I won’t write it. I had free-wheeling conversations with him every two-three days either over lunch or in the evening when the work day was over. I had a chronology of the films he’s done, I knew how my journey has to travel but I didn’t necessarily follow it completely. I jumped from time and space when I needed to.

There isn’t anything in his life that is so explosive that I would have to censor it. Everybody knows that he was married to my mother and they separated, what can be more personal than that? I can’t possibly gloss over that being their child and expect people to believe this as authentic. That would be dishonest.

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