Humility is an appreciable virtue but the problem with being humble is you seldom know when to stop. It's very important to understand not everybody gets humility. Just like not everybody gets sarcasm. And that disability can work against you. Unless you are somebody like Gulzarsaab. He can be extremely self-effacing during social dos and at the same time, he can be that person who lambasts Chetan Bhagat in public. My undying love for the celebrated lyricist's work (i don't care much for his personal life) humbles me. Isn't that the SI unit of greatness? You read somebody's poems and begin to acknowledge the sheer tininess of your own poetry. It's like racing against wind, if not cheetah, if not Bolt. Words bow to him because he has been wandering in the garden of wordplay like a kid since time immemorial. Maybe that's why he could come up with lines like “..apna hi hoke sahey dard paraaye..” and “..aye, zindagi gale lagaale..” with the same ease as for “Kajra re...kajre re...” and “..zubaan pe laaga re namak ishq ka...”!
More than half a decade ago, Lata took me to a poetry reading session by Gulzarsaab. This was way before my tryst with film journalism. Thanks to her, i could not only see my idol in flesh but also have a book signed by him. It's one of the finest gifts i ever got and i shall cherish it to my death. He was dressed in his usual whites punctuated by a pair of flashy mojris. There was a bustle in the crowd gathered to witness something none of us would bother to forget. He was sitting quietly on the stage as Javed Siddiqui walked forward to introduce the star of the event. Siddiqui began by saying that it's very easy for even a small candle to get recognized in a room full of darkness. But it takes something extraordinary for a lantern to get noticed in a room full of luminescent lanterns. Of course, he was referring to the rich Urdu world of writers and poets although for the audience, it probably meant the place Gulzarsaab has carved for himself in Hindi cinema. Siddiqui went on and on trying to metaphorize the personality who seemed least interested in verbal accolades. But then, Gulzarsaab knows very well what to do when. He got up from his chair, walked up to Siddiqui from behind and patted his back before saying, “Bas bhi karo, Siddiqui saab, kitna jhooth bologe?”