Title: Actually…I Met Them: A Memoir Author: Gulzar
Publisher: Penguin Hamish Hamilton ISBN: 978-0670096077
I was eagerly looking forward to Gulzar saab’s memoir since its announcement. I was expecting a tome of memories, songs, and relationships to come my way. I was but of course disappointed to then see that it was a memoir of only 176 pages and that too character sketches of people Gulzar saab was close to.
People also for a very large part make up a memoir. The people one interacts with shapes the trajectory of life. So, in that case sure they are a part of a memoir, but can a book of character sketches based on experiences with those people alone be called a memoir is something I am still pondering about. Maybe, yes. Actually, yes.
I wanted to love this book, but I only liked it, and that too in bits and pieces. Most of the stories and anecdotes can be found by Googling. Yes, it is different when Gulzar saab writes about it, but after a point it just didn’t work for me.
He speaks fondly about people who shaped his life and his craft – the ones who inspired me, the ones he was in awe of, and the ones he misses and loved the most. From R.D. Burman to Kishore Kumar to Satyajit Ray and Suchitra Sen, not to forget Sanjeev Kumar and Sharmila Tagore, Gulzar saab speaks of them all – how it was to work with them to how he addressed them, their eccentricities, how they made the films they did, and what these people meant to him. There are twenty-one or more people mentioned in the book, and how his life was lived to some extent with them acting as enablers.
Actually…I Met Them is written is true Gulzar saab manner – candid, emotional, and funny. Like I said, I was expecting a lot more, but didn’t get that. I will listen to his songs now and hope there are more memoirs in store for us.