Two Tales of My Times, presents for the first ever time, two of GULZAR's most
thought-provoking and hard-hitting film scripts, New Delhi Times and Maachis, in the form of
a narrative. The scripts have been presented in the form of a story, but without delineating
from the original films.
New Delhi Times takes an in-depth look at the politically corrupt system that
permeates the lives of ordinary people, who in many ways are unable to deal with it.
Maachis, on the other hand, is placed in the terrorism that corroded Punjab in the aftermath
of the assassination of former prime minister Indira Gandhi in 1984. The terrorism that was
unleashed in the state, took in its fold, many young boys and girls, some of whom were too
young to comprehend their mission.
Gulzar, the director, extraordinaire, and writer, who is known both for his
sensitivity and simplicity, received much critical acclaim for both the films.
Whether he is conjuring up exquisite lyrics, authoring delectable screenplays or
directing profoundly moving celluloid odes, GULZAR, peerless poet, sensitive writer and
outstanding filmmaker, is a consummate master of his craft. The world that the man behind
the ge nius inhabits is as magical as his inimitable creative output. He has several books
to his credit which include highly acclaimed poetry and short story anthologies including
Silences, Raat Pashmine Ki, Autumn Moon, Raavi Paar and Other Stories amongst many
Gulzar was honoured with the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in 2004
and the Sahitya Amademi Award in 2002.
Anyone involved in a creative work, and in cinema certainly, is often asked about the
"reality quotient" about a film or book or story. This question becomes even more complex
when a writer or director concedes that there is a connection to reality. In fact all arts
do spring from reality and the world we live in.
It is not a reproduction or a photocopy of events witnessed, or experiences with
characters, and incidents in either my personal life or in my life as a part of the social
fabric of our time. It cannot be a simple rendering of reality because it will go through a
creative process and a process of selection, emphasis and reworking takes place. As a
result, the end production is certainly based on reality and the viewer and reader feels
that he has seen or felt the same things but not in an exact or linear way.
The writer is also bound with the form of the story, hence bound for the
narrative. Accordingly the writer feels compelled to coalesce several public events into one
event, merge four or five characters into one, or break up one incident into smaller
incidents. The writer gathers together the entire sweep of reality and from that collective
experience decides to pick those that help him to tell his story so that it rings true for
people who have lived through those experiences and for himself as an artistic expression.
That would constitute a successful and meaningful fictionalization of reality. It's a
wonderful paradox too; the writer gains in objectivity and distance while the ultimate test
of its truthfulness is established by the emotional connection that is available for all to
view or read. It can be viewed as a record of our times but equally and perhaps more
powerfully it can be very simply a well written story or a moving film. A screenplay based
on a representation of closely observed reality and an individual response to it can become
an accurate and layered creation, which can resonate for a large body of people for time to
come. Significantly, Maachis and New Delhi Times were envisioned and written as original
screenplays, a genre which makes for a very sharp narrative and focused enquiry into our
Another related question that is often raised in this context is how representative
is a piece of art of its particular time. I have lived through the catastrophic Partition
and also experienced the times of Nehru, Gandhi and Azad who by personal examples were able
to inspire a surge of hope in newly independent India. I have observed and experienced, as a
common man, the events that shaped the nations journey after that era, in the 1970s and
'80s. Both the stories relate to that period.
It was not a sudden happening. Events had been building up and we had all watched
perhaps too silently and without and without protest the build up of scandals and
corruption. But in the '80s it became clear that what had inspired us just a few decades
ago, had all been sidelined.
The two stories are a result of those observation, thoughts, and growing frustration
of a common man. It was a crucial decade of our times, my time, the 1980s.
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