Raazi director Meghna Gulzar has established herself as one of the finest filmmakers in India. The daughter of renowned poet-lyricist-author-film-maker Gulzar is also a poet and author in her own right and her book ‘Because He Is…’ just saw its fourth edition. In this chat with Latha Srinivasan, Meghna Gulzar talks about her father and the influence he has had on her work.
NewsX: The title of the book is ‘Because he is…’. Why this particular title?
Meghna Gulzar: You’ll understand when you read the book (smiles)
NewsX: Why have you chosen to write this at this point in your life?
Meghna Gulzar: Actually this is an updated version of a book that came out several years back. Three editions had been brought out and Harper Collins was gracious enough to publish this updated fourth edition. A lot has happened since the last edition came out and it felt right to include that in the book. He has done so much of work since the last edition came out and so much has changed as well like he is a grandfather too.
NewsX: How much has your relationship with your dad evolved over the last decade?
Meghna Gulzar: Well, we are mature adults today and I think we understand each much better. When you become adults, the relationship between parents and children plateau – unless you go and do something drastically stupid of course. There’s a lot more understanding and we don’t need to speak as much. Even silences communicate.
NewsX: He is a renowned poet-lyricist-author-film-maker. Did that put pressure on you to match upto him?
Meghna Gulzar: Not at all. He and I are quite different in our writing styles – mine is much more personal. He writes in Urdu and I, in English. There can be no comparison at all as our perspectives are different. He is shaped by his experiences and me by mine and they are not necessarily the same. So there’s no question of any pressure at all. Of course, he keeps asking me to write more and get my work published. He is very proud of me and my work.
NewsX: You’ve worked together on his films and now in your films. How is it working with your father?
Meghna Gulzar: On his films, I assisted my father in writing and post-production. Now, I work with him on my films. My father is a very internal person and I am very external. I have to externalize every aspect. But when it comes to writing (film stories) he and I are very similar.
NewsX: The relationship between Sehmat and her dad in ‘Raazi’ – is any aspect autobiographical at all?
Meghna Gulzar: No, there is nothing autobiographical in that relationship. Just as Sehmat’s relationship with her father is crucial to the narrative so is Iqbal’s to his father’s. My father would never have had the courage to sacrifice his daughter and make me do what Sehmat’s father did to her.
NewsX: Does your father give you feedback?
Meghna Gulzar: He tells me exactly what he tells the media about my films!
NewsX: What is the one advice that you remember from your dad?
Meghna Gulzar: Make the kind of films that you want to. You need to first believe in it and have the conviction and then convince me. When he says to me, he means the audience. The same applies to writing or any other aspect of life like even buying vegetables. I think this is the single most important thing he has said to me and which drives me.