Wednesday, December 26, 2012


There is much to enjoy in In the Company of a Poet, Nasreen Munni Kabir’s series of conversations (conducted mostly on Skype) with Gulzar. The poet/lyricist/filmmaker speaks at some length about his childhood, his writing career and his experiences in the movie industry, including his association with such personages as Bimal Roy, Meena Kumari and Hemant Kumar. But what stopped me in my tracks was when I read about Gulzar’s tennis-love. “You know, I play tennis every morning and the very thought of an Urdu poet wearing shorts and playing tennis goes against the grain,” he remarks at one point, “Ye Urdu ke shaayar hain aur subah ye knickers pahen ke kaise khelte hain?”

Shortly afterwards comes this poetic metaphor:

I wake up at five when it is still dark. I want the sun to look for me instead of my looking for the sun. Just as the first serve in tennis can be advantageous, so the first serve must be mine. The second goes to the sun.
And still later, this bit, which left me feeling not very gruntled.
I enjoy the way Federer plays. He is cool and has a gentle smile. The only thing I have against Nadal is the villainous grimaces he makes.
As a poet, Gulzarsaab should know that one may smile and smile and be a villain. Ah well. Just goes to show that it isn’t easy to be a creative genius AND a discerning sports fan. (In any case, Rafa chooses to serve second when he wins the toss. Everyone knows that.)

[Two pieces about my Nadal-fandom here and here]


  1. Oh dear. Villainous grimaces, eh? Hmph. Heh I'd be worried if Rafa kept grinning winsome-ly during a match. And sweet-smiling Fed? Perhaps we should bring this to the attention of PseudoFed, another thing to be Humble about!
    PS: Love the title of your post!

  2. hahaha...i too was quite surprised when a friend told me he has seen Gulzar play tennis somehwere in Bandra, i guess...

  3. Empress of Blandings: the post title was going to be an indignant "But...but...but..." (which was my immediate response to what he said about Rafa) - but as you can see, it just wrote itself!

    Pessimist Fool: he plays every morning at the Bandra Gymkhana.

  4. Mario Puzo had once said that he considers 'The Godfather' as one of his less serious work (which is true in one sense) but the in-depth characterisations and the play of human motives he manages to catch in this 'pulp' is missing in his more 'serious' works for some of us. It may not be possible for a creator to evaluate the worth of his/her own art at times. Likewise,playing tennis may not always bring in a sense of assesment of the masters of the game.Moreover, was not he just airing his opinion albeit couched in sentiments that can be called 'poetic' at best? Just compare the two thoughts - one on sunrise and the other on players. Isn't poetry like life is sublime only at times and because of it? By the way, the title was apt and enjoyable.

  5. Anon: thanks for the comment, but you do know I wasn't being dead-serious with that "it isn’t easy to be a creative genius AND a discerning sports fan", right?

  6. Jai:I have been enjoying your posts for some time now, and of course I could sense it. That's why I relished the title so much-to me it was like a gentle 'nod' or 'shrug' to something which does not see eye to eye with a sense of humour.
    But even if your post had assumed a more indignant tone,my admiration for your writings and that of Gulzarsaab's would not have lessened;povs lose their appeal when shorn of individuality, and this one added another dimension to my image of the lyricist like your post on Leela Naidu,where she shares her reminiscences of her acting stint with Balraj Sahni did about both the actors.

  7. Just caught up with a lot of posts today after a short break even as I am Aww!!-ing at this one's last paragraph .Cute :) Someone should go squeeze your cheeks now