Gulzar Biography


Birthday: August 18, 1934 (Leo)

Born In: Dina, Punjab

Sampooran Singh Kalra, more famous as Gulzar, is an eminent Indian lyricist, film director, screenwriter, poet and author. He stepped into the Indian film industry as part of Bimal Roy Productions and got his first break as a lyricist working with legendary music director S.D. Burman in Bimal Roy’s film Bandini. Success of the film led him to become Roy’s full-time assistant. Moving on Gulzar wrote for acclaimed directors like Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Asit Kumar Sen. Some such classic films include Guddi, Anand, Bawarchi, Khamoshi, Do Dooni Char and Safar. He has worked with many famous music directors like Salil Chowdhury, Hemant Kumar, A. R. Rahman, and R. D. Burman and shared a close bond with the latter. Gulzar donned the director’s cap with the film Mere Apne and went on to give classics like Parichay, Koshish, Mausam, Namkeen and Aandhi. This multi-talented luminary has won several national and international awards and honours including Padma Bhushan, Dadasaheb Phalke Award, Sahitya Akademi Award, a Grammy Award, an Academy Award, several Indian National Film Awards and 21 Filmfare Awards among others.

Quick Facts

Indian Celebrities Born In August

Also Known As: Sampooran Singh Kalra

Age: 89 Years, 89 Year Old Males


Spouse/Ex-: Raakhee Gulzar

father: Makhan Singh Kalra

mother: Sujan Kaur

children: Meghna Gulzar

Born Country: India

Poets Directors

Height: 5'6" (168 cm), 5'6" Males

Childhood & Early Life

Sampooran Singh Kalra was born on August 18, 1934, in Dina, Jhelum District, Punjab province in British India (now in Pakistan) in the Khatri Sikh family of Makhan Singh Kalra and Sujan Kaur.

He developed an interest in literature and poetry as a child and was particularly inspired by the works of Rabindranath Tagore, translations of which he read in school.

He eagerly took part in antaksharis, showed great interest in learning shairis and listened Hindustani music, particularly the ones played on stringed instruments at his neighbour’s house. His interest in music developed with time and while in college, he would hardly miss a concert of legendary artists like Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and Pandit Ravi Shankar.

Partition of India led his family to relocate to Amritsar and Gulzar had to discontinue his studies and move to Bombay (now Mumbai) to earn and support his family.

He did several odd jobs to sustain himself including working at a garage at Vichare motors on Bellasis road where his work was to touch up accident-damaged cars with shades of paint.

He wrote poetry during spare time and as his father expressed disapproval for his writing career, he adopted the pen name Gulzar Deenvi and eventually only Gulzar.

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Career As A Lyricist & Dialogue Writer

While attending college, Gulzar became involved with PWA (Progressive Writers Association) where poet, lyricist and film producer Shailendra and film director Bimal Roy motivated him to pursue a career in films. His film career started under Roy and film director, editor and writer Hrishikesh Mukherjee.

While working as an assistant director of Roy in the 1963 Hindi drama film Bandini, Gulzar initially refused Roy’s offer to contribute as a lyricist saying that he didn't want to become a songwriter. He was later convinced by music director S.D. Burman leading him to write the song Mora Gora Ang Lai Le in five days, marking his debut as lyricist. Lyrics of other songs of the film were contributed by Shailendra.

Dialogues and lyrics of the 1968 Hindi film Aashirwad directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee were written by Gulzar.

Memorable songs of the Asit Sen directed and Waheeda Rehman and Rajesh Khanna starrer hit 1970 black-and-white Hindi film Khamoshi including Tum Pukaar Lo... Tumhara Intezaar Hai, Woh Shaam Kuch Ajeeb Thi and Humne Dekhi Hai Un Aankhon Ki Mehekti Khushboo were written by Gulzar and composed by Hemant Kumar.

Story, dialogue and lyrics of the Hrishikesh Mukherjee directed film Guddi were written by Gulzar. He also contributed in screenplay of the film along with Hrishikesh Mukherjee and D. N. Mukherjee. The film’s song Humko Man Ki Shakti Dena written by Gulzar is still sung as a prayer song in many schools in India.

He went on to contribute as dialogue writer in several hit films and has won the most Filmfare Awards for Best Dialogue (four) for the films Anand (1972), Namak Haraam (1974), Maachis (1996) and Saathiya (2002).

Over the years, he etched his name as one of the finest lyricists in India working with famous Indian music directors like Sachin Dev Burman, Rahul Dev Burman, Salil Chowdhury, Shankar Jaikishan, Hemant Kumar, Madan Mohan, Laxmikant–Pyarelal, Rajesh Roshan, A. R. Rahman, Vishal Bhardwaj, Shankar–Ehsaan–Loy and Anu Malik.

He achieved the feat of winning the most Filmfare Awards for Best Lyricist (twelve). The songs include ‘Do Deewane Shehar Mein’ from Gharaonda (1978), ‘Aanewala Pal Jane Wala Hai from Gol Maal (1980), Tujhse Naraaz Nahin Zindagi from Masoom (1984), Mera Kuchh Saamaan from Ijaazat (1989), and Chaiyya Chaiyya from film Dil Se… (1999).

Lyrics of the internationally acclaimed A. R. Rahman composed song, Jai Ho, from the Danny Boyle directed 2008 British drama film Slumdog Millionaire, was written by Gulzar. The song won Rahman and Gulzar the Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 81st Academy Awards in 2008. Rahman, Gulzar and singer Tanvi Shah also won a Grammy Award for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media for the song in 2010.

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Career As Director

Meanwhile Gulzar came up with his first directorial venture, the 1971 Hindi film Mere Apne. It starred Meena Kumari, Shatrughan Sinha and Vinod Khanna in lead roles and was rated "Above Average" at the box office. Gulzar then went on to direct other noted films like Koshish (1972) that fetched him National Film Award for Best Screenplay (1973) and Achanak (1973).

He bagged the National Film Award for Second Best Feature Film and Filmfare Award for Best Director for the Sanjeev Kumar and Sharmila Tagore starrer Hindi film ‘Mausam’ (1975) and Filmfare Critics Award for Best Movie for the Sanjeev Kumar and Suchitra Sen starrer political-drama film Aandhi (1975).

Other noted films directed by Gulzar include Namkeen (1982), Angoor (1982), Ijaazat (1987), Lekin… (1991) and Maachis (1996).

Gulzar also left his mark on small-screen directing the popular 1988 eponymous TV serial Mirza Ghalib that starred Naseeruddin Shah in the title role and aired on DD National.

As a Poet

A passionate poet, Gulzar mainly writes in Urdu and Punjabi, apart from in different dialects of Hindi. He initiated the Triveni form of Hindi/Urdu poetry that comprise of three "hemistichs" (misras). Three compilations of his poems are Chand Pukhraaj Ka, Raat Pashminey Ki and Pandrah Paanch Pachattar.

His books Dhuan (Smoke) and Raavi-paar are collection of short stories. The former written in Urdu won him Sahitya Akademi Award in 2002.

He wrote the anthem Nazar Main Rehte Ho for the January 2010 established peace campaign Aman ki Asha, jointly started by ‘The Times of India’ in India and ‘The Jang Group’ of Pakistan.

Other contributions of Gulzar includes writing lyrics for Jagjit Singh's albums Marasim and Koi Baat Chale writing lyrics and dialogues for several TV series of Doordarshan like Jungle Book and Alice in Wonderland; writing stories and poetry for Chakmak magazine; and writing and narrating for the children's audiobook series Karadi Tales.

Awards & Achievements

Gulzar was conferred with Padma Bhushan, India's third highest civilian award, in 2004; and Dadasaheb Phalke Award, the highest award in Indian cinema, in 2013.

He was appointed as Chancellor of the Assam University in April 2013.

Family & Personal Life

Gulzar married Indian film actress Raakhee. Their daughter Meghna Gulzar, born on December 13, 1973, graduated in filmmaking from New York University and became a writer, director and producer. She is known for directing films like Filhaal, Raazi, Talvar and Chhapaak. Gulzar wrote lyrics of the latter.

Meghna wrote the book, Because He is …, a biography of Gulzar, in 2004.


Academy Awards(Oscars)
2009 Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
Grammy Awards
2010 Best Song Written for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

See the events in life of Gulzar in Chronological Order

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