Meghna Gulzar On Transcending Gender Binaries And Growing Up In The Shadow Of A Famous Father
- IWB Post
- May 21, 2019
What would you say of a soulful conversation dipped in the poetry of Gulzar as it peeks into the nuances of a father-daughter relationship? Delightful, right? Well that’s how Jaipur Literature Fest opened up for me this year.
You know a JLF session is going to be an absolute hit and of course a delight when the speaker is Gulzar and today was no different, as the audience sat transfixed when Gulzar recited beautiful poetry all through the session. However, what set today’s session apart was the fact that this time Gulzar was all about his daughter and while some might complain, we cherished it to the core.
In the session titled Because We Are: A Portrait Of My Father, Meghna Gulzar and her father, along with Shantanu Ray Chaudhuri, discoursed on parenthood, the father-daughter bond, and, of course, all things films.
As Meghna launched her book based on her father and childhood memories during the session, she took the opportunity to talk about what it was like to be brought up by a famous father. She shared how she’d be left absolutely puzzled as a child, every time someone approached her father to touch his feet or talk to him with the reverence otherwise meted to Gods.
“Only when I was around 15 did I realise the enormity of the adulation that my father enjoyed,” she said. She also shared the nuances characteristic and unique to every father-daughter relationship and recollected how she’d often communicate with him through chits.
Explaining why she did so, Meghna said, “There were certain things that I couldn’t ask him directly. I was the only child and for the man that he was and the aura he exuded, I couldn’t be on backslapping terms with him. So, I left him these notes and he would reply in a friendly manner.”
Further speaking on how he single-handedly brought her up, Meghna said, “For him it was about raising a child. It didn’t matter whether it was tying my braids or sash. He embraced it.” Gulzar reacted to this, by saying, “I wasn’t born a father. I wasn’t born a mother. It’s because of Meghna that I became a father and a mother.”
As the conversation drifted from relationships to films and feminism, Meghna took the opportunity to talk about the strong willed women characters in Gulzar’s films which she said were way ahead of their time. “It wasn’t fashionable back then to have a strong female protagonist in movies. Gulzar’s movies have always had well-defined and central female characters,” said Meghna.
Speaking on films and direction, Meghna said it’s time that we learn to see beyond gender binaries when it comes to approaching talent. She said, “Anyone can become a director and succeed or fail in it, irrespective of their gender.”
She further added, “I am a very gender-neutral person. I do not look at roles through the roles of gender, male or female. The only part that upcoming filmmakers should keep in mind is to work hard, be prepared for rejection, have the stomach for failure, and stay true to the craft.”
Speaking on what it takes to make it big in the industry, she said, “Conviction, perseverance, strength and honesty is all it takes to succeed.” However, she quickly added, “Some people get lucky with their first film and for some, it takes 10-15 years to make a mark, just like it did for me. It is the beauty and danger both of our film industry, that sometimes it hardly takes time for someone to go from anonymity to superstardom and in the same fashion, it can take a moment to go from superstardom to anonymity.”
Speaking on what it is that gives her the confidence to create quality art, Meghna said, “I know I can write, because his ink flows in me.”
Image Source: JLF 2019
First published on Jan 24, 2019.