Saturday, August 17, 2002

The pragmatic Meghna
Aditi Tandon

MeghnaTHERE is something about Meghna Gulzarís face, which makes you trust her at once. That is one reason why you donít feel like sitting in judgment on this young filmmaker, who caused ripples in the industry with her very first film. You may have unconsciously attributed a lot of Filhaalís content to the "intellectual and creative" juices flowing within her, thanks to her parents ó one a celebrated writer, the other a famous actress. But once you meet this young director, you realise she is a celebrity in her own right.

In a low voice, Meghna begins to talk, not just of how blessed she feels to have Rakhee and Gulzar as her parents but also about how easily she has been handling questions dwelling on her seemingly tumultuous past. Her parents may have separated ages ago and she may have had to spend portions of her life with each one of them, but as memories of childhood flash before her eyes, there is not an iota of regret on her face; not a fraction of heaviness in her voice. Only her doe-like eyes sparkle every now and then, very much reminding you of Rakhee, who made many a heart pound with her lovely expressive eyes.


"I never felt burdened as their child. My parentsí presence in my life has been my good fortune. And no matter what the world may presume or attribute, I am telling you I always had a normal childhood. My parents made sure that everything was the best for me. They never made a public show of their alienation. They would attend my school meetings and behave normally as if nothing was wrong. I was thus never singled out by others," says a candid Meghna, her voice filled with pride. As the conversation rolls, she becomes even more frank. "Despite the fact that my parents had separated and were living in pain, an obvious outcome of their break-up, I never felt neglected even for a moment. I may not have lived with both of them at the same time, but I had a wonderful chance of getting the best from both."

Meghna lived with Gulzar till she was 11 years old. Then she moved in with Rakhee, who would often take her for outdoor shootings. Answering a difficult question about how she coped with her motherís alcoholism, Meghna says,"This is more a perception than a reality. She was into drinking and for obvious reasons, but then she exhibited tremendous strength in handling her problems. Finally, she overcame the addiction on her own.

"My childhood is full of fond memories. I never think of my past with bitterness. In fact, my fondest memories with my father is that of the days when he was learning to play the sitar. He would go out to play badminton early in the morning while I would still be sleeping. As a routine, he would start rehearsing the sitar after returning from the game. I still remember how I used to wake up to the melodies of the sitar. Those sounds still make me nostalgic."

Meghna also talks of her fatherís poetry. She says, "That is one thing everyone knows him for. Although I do still tend to dismiss some of his lyrics, the best ones in my opinion are those that form the title song of Filhaal and all the lyrics that make up Ijaazatís songs. I think they were beautiful.

"One thing I have always admired in my father is his silence. He will speak very few words, but the most effective ones. His silence communicates. Even in his films, silence is palpable. Even in in Filhaal, I have used few dialogues." As of now, Meghna is learning to be as patient as Gulzar.

And how about her infamous temper? "Well, that I inherit from my mother," continues Meghna, "My mother is a very giving person. She may not be very expressive, but she has her own sweet ways of spilling love. I respect her tremendously and I love the way she has aged."

Meghna smiles as she talks about her relationship with Rakhee. "It is not a conventional mother-daughter relationship. I reprimand her when I feel she should not have reacted in a certain manner. We understand each other too well. Words are not even needed at times."

With each passing day, Meghna says she respects her parents more and more. Her ultimate wish in life is to direct her mother. "I am waiting for a script that can do justice to her dignity," says the chirpy Gulzar girl, who believes that if one was to live oneís life fully and completely, were to give form to every feeling, expression to every thought and impart reality to every dream, the world would become a joyous place to live in and one would forget all the maladies that ever existed!