Munshi Premchand as relevant now as he was in his time: Gulzar

Mumbai: Munshi Premchand was one of the biggest influences in Gulzar’s association with literature and the eminent poet -lyricist feels his writings have not lost its relevance even after a century.

The 81-year-old National Award-winning songwriter, who today launched the screenplay format of Premchand’s classics Godan and Nirmala, penned by him, said the problems depicted in the stories are still persistent.

Premchand’s is as relevant now as he was during the pre-independence era. His literature, the characters he wrote, the problems he talked about, we are still struggling to get over them. Be it the poverty or the caste discrimination, these things are still there in our society and the situation has even gone worse. Hori and Dhaniya are still living in our village,” Gulzar told PTI.

The screenplays were part of the 26-episode TV series Tehreer… Munshi Premchand Ki and Gulzar thought of bringing it in the format of a book, to make it appealing to the youth.

“To bring back our literature we have to present it in the format which appeals most to the young generation living in metropolises. This is my effort to bring back people to reading the literature which is not looked for beyond school or college books,” he said.

Gulzar feels the best thing about Premchand was his ability to focus on the problems faced by the country during British Raj, without even pointing directly at the rulers and he has tried to maintain that.

Premchand tried his hands in cinema, but couldn’t continue with it and Gulzar, who has become one of the most sought after writers in the film industry, feels his motive in life was all together different.

“It is tough to be in the industry and say what you want to in the purest form. Premchand tried his hands, but he was more more inclined in the independence movement. If a writer wants to be in the industry they should not expect to be accepted without any changes being made to their work. Only Sahir Ludhiyanvi and Pandit Pradeep managed to go ahead with their originality.”

Translated by Saba Mahmood Bashir, the screenplays are published by Roli books.

Saba, who has also worked with Gulzar in the past, said working with the writer is always a pleasure and a responsibility at the same time.

“It’s an honour to translate a book which has names of both Munshi Premchand and Gulzar sahab on it. It was a pleasure, but with a sense of responsibility,” she said. PTI

Picture courtesy: Shikha Patel