Meghna Gulzar’s book Because He Is… is an ode to her father, Gulzar who celebrated his birthday on August 18. It is never easy to open your life out for the public, but when Meghna got the chance to write a book about her father, she knew she had to give it a shot. Good for us, fans of Gulzar who are privy to lesser-known aspects of the poet, songwriter, music composer, director and the man…
Were there portions in your life that you debated putting in the book?
There was never any ambiguity regarding my decision for this book. The first edition came out in 2004; it was with a different publisher. They approached me and my father was very keen I do it. I was in between films and I thought it was a nice way to get to know my father better so that’s where it came up…
Your father claims parents don’t have the right to tell their children what to do. How was it growing up amidst such views?
You are thinking about it in perspective of the public persona and the charisma of the public persona to the parent. But for a child you see your father as your father. You don’t know the enormity of your father’s public persona whether it is him or my mother. As a child I grew up with two separate parents. As a child I thought that’s the way things are everywhere, I didn’t know otherwise. What I have grown up and seen around me was normal.
It is only when you grow up you realise that many children have their parents living in the same house, they do have siblings. Of course, I had questions and I have to give it to both my parents who answered them patiently and honestly. Till today my father says we are not separated or divorced, we just live in two different homes instead of one… sometimes, it is nice to give the other person a little more space.
You have mentioned in Because He Is… that till your 13th birthday your father would write a book for you every year. Does your book come as a reciprocation?
You don’t reciprocate things to your parents or payback. Perhaps you see a correlation because he wrote books and here I am attempting the same. But nothing can compare to what he did. He would always write a book for me, and we would publish 100-200 copies of it, and distribute it in my school. I believe there are sets of those available in different schools today. Publishers have taken it up too. In a country like ours, I really think there is a scarcity of children’s literature and his work adds to that. My little one-off book, I cannot think of being in any way a reciprocation of what he has done in those 13 books for children.