An Unforgettable Evening With Legendary Gulzar Sahab

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By Manorama Choudhury

BOSTON–It is often hard to express in words what you experience in a trance! It was a heavenly experience, I still feel like I’m on cloud nine. One may ask, what made me feel so?

Manorama Choudhury (Photo: Facebook)

Until my mid-twenties I didn’t watch many Bollywood movies, but I heard all those classic songs enough times for them to be cemented in my memory. Although Urdu and Hindi were not a part of my primary education, I was always drawn to the sound of them. Listening to ghazals, especially by Jagjit Singh ji, remained my favorite pastime.

Prior to many of his ghazals, Gulzar Sahab’s narration mesmerized me and that was when I first fell in love with his voice. उन की आवाज़ में एक अजीब सी कशिश थी..followed by the lyrics in the songs.. my passion for ghazals simply grew manifold over time and I must have played the role of the heroine a thousand times in my imagination. So, listening to that legendary voice in a live show was the opportunity of a lifetime! My words fail to capture the unforgettable surreal experience.

गुलज़ार साहब के अल्फ़ाज़ थे

या उर्दू जुबान की तल्लफ़ुज़

ये नशा था या तिश्नगी

वो पिलाए जा रहे थे

और मेरी प्यास बढ़ती जा रही थी ..

At the age of 87, Gulzar Sahab mesmerized almost a house-full audience at the Lynn Memorial Auditorium on 17th of July, 2022. All thanks to Eshani Shah for bringing him to Boston.

It is impossible to cover a lifetime’s work in a show, but the organizers had beautifully curated the flow to summarize his jhalaks. In a thoughtful, intellectual conversational engagement with Ms.Rakshanda Jalil, he recited many of his nazms, shared his memories of making iconic movies, and his association with Sanjeev Kumar, RD Burman, Hrishikesh Mukharjee, Shailendra, Naseeruddin Shah, Vishal Bharadwaj, Jagjit Singh, Bhupinder Singh, Lata Mangeshkar, and many others. बल्लिमारन की गली से ढूँढ कर मिर्ज़ा ग़ालिब को TV के पर्दे पर लाने का सफ़र बहुत ख़ूबसूरत था । His sharp, humorous, and well-composed responses sounded magical to the well-poised questions of Ms.Jalil. I also must admit Ms. Jalil’s rich Urdu language was a cultural treat for sure.

The show covered many of his iconic songs from his first song ‘Mora gora ang lai le mohe sham rang dei de’ to the Oscar-winning song ‘Jai ho’. I was pleased to hear my personal favorites, ‘Mera kuch saman’ from the movie ‘Ijaazat’ and ‘Biti na bitai raina’ from the movie ‘Parichay’. The Beautiful medley presented by Hrishikesh Ranade, Swarada Godbole and Jitendra Abhyanka even included his famous item song ‘Bidi jalai le’. A huge shout out to all the three amazing singers. He offered the audience to ask questions at the end. His answers were witty and sharp to a few interesting questions. Truly, an unforgettable evening that I wished could never end.

गुलज़ार साहब ने ‘गिरह ‘ शब्द का जिक्र एक नज़्म में किया था जो की मेरे मन में गांठ बांधली।

पुरानी यादों से लेकर

आज तक का सफर

उन्होंने इतने कम समय में बाँटा

उन पलों को समेट सकूँ

मुझ को वैसी गिरह डालना ना आई।

He shared so much in so little time that I don’t know how to capture everything here. I am sure Boston’s audience enjoyed his presence as much as I did.

This was the third show of the tour after Toronto and New Jersey and the whole team including Gulzar Sahab was very appreciative of Boston’s audience !!

(Manorama Choudhury is a Boston-based poet.)

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