Sampooran Singh Kalra a.k.a. Gulzar, born to Makhan Singh Kalra and Sujan Kaur in Jhelum District, British India, is a veteran Indian poet, lyricist and director. His primary compositions are in Hindi-Urdu and is also known for writing in Punjabi, along with various dialects of Hindi, like Braj Bhasha, Khariboli, Haryanvi and Marwari. He was born in a Kalra Arora Sikh Family, to Makhan Singh Kalra and Sujan Kalra in Jhelum District, British India, now in Pakistan. He worked in Delhi as a car mechanic in a garage before getting established as a writer, after which he took the pen name Gulzar Deevni.
A chance meeting with Bimal Roy presented Gulzar the opportunity to work as a songwriter with music director Sachin Dev Burman for Bandini (1963), which marked his debut as a lyricist in films and provided a gateway into Bimal Roy Productions, where his attitude, approach, perception, views and beliefs about cinema were influenced. During his internship years, Bimal Roy, Hemant Kumar's Geetanjali Pictures and Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Gulzar was privileged to get a hard close-up covering every creative aspect of the film medium.
His first directorial venture, Mere Apne (1971), was a quasi-political film with telling social comment, but driven ad powered by human relationships, which was a dominating pattern throughout his career. Regardless of backdrop, plot, storyline or characters, his movies - Koshish (1972), Aandhi (1975), Mausam (1975), Achanak (1972), Kinara (1977), Parichay (1972), Namkeen (1982), Khuhsboo (1975), Ijaazat (1987), Lekin (1990), Libaas (1988), Angoor (1982), Masoom (1983), Machis (1996), Hu Tu Tu (1999) or Dus Kahaniyaan (2007) - his central theme has always remained firmly anchored to human behavior and attitude - "ordinary people caught up in extraordinary circumstances and settings".
Mirza Ghalib (1988) a TV serial made on the his life and starring Naseeruddin Shah as Ghalib was a landmark in the history of Indian Television as Gulzar vividly recreated Ghalib's life and times. Besides this Gulzar also directed documentaries on Amjad Ali Khan and Pandit Bhimsen Joshi apart from completing Sukhdev's film Shaira on Meena Kumari. He has also been a song writer for several Doordarshan programs for kids such as Jungle Book, Alice in Wonderland, Guchche & Potli Baba Ki with Vishal Bhardwaj and also wrote and narrated for the children's audio book series - Karadi Tales.
Gulzar was married to well known actress Rakhee, and has a daughter Meghana. Gulzar and Rakhee separated when Meghana was one year old, but never got divorced. In 2004, Meghana penned a biography about Gulzar - Because He Is. Gulzar has had award-winning associations with the music directors Salil Chowdhury (Anand, Mere Apne), Madan Mohan (Mausam) and more recently with Vishal Bhardwaj (Maachis, Omkara, Kaminey), A. R. Rahman (Dil Se, Guru, Slumdog Millionaire, Raavan) and Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy (Bunty aur Babli).
He has won a number of Filmfare Awards that include Best Lyrics, Best Dialogue, Best Screenplay, Best Director and Best Story. His Jai Ho of Slumdog Millionnaire, composed by music maestro A. R. Rehman, won an Oscar for the Best Original Score in 2008. Recently he won a Best Lyrics Filmfare Award for Dil to Bachha Hai Ji of Ishqiya.