The inauguration of Gulzar’s Retrospective on the third day of 45th International Film Festival of India was the highlight of the third day of the film festival as Gulzar’s fans got a chance to enjoy the poet-lyricist-scriptwriter-director’s unreleased movie ‘Libaas’ starring Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah and Raj Babbar.
This was the film’s first public screening since making and what made the experience ever more special was the presence of its director, filmmaker Gulzar himself, at the screening. The film played to an overcrowded screen I of Maquinez Palace.
Written and directed by Gulzar, the film explores a husband-wife relationship, both of whom are theatre artistes. The husband’s involvement with his work creates a chasm in their relationship and consequently the wife has an extra marital relationship.
Gulzar, who watched this film after a gap of 26 years, said: “I felt good after watching the film. I was scared that the audience would find it dated. But, then that’s the beauty of human relationships; they are timeless. After watching the film I felt I was a good writer”, Gulzar told filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj during the interaction that followed the screening.
Gulzar mentioned that based on the film he later wrote a short-story titled ‘Chabiyan’, which he later renamed ‘Seema’ after the female protagonist of the film. Chabiyan was published in the collection Ravi Paar.
Gulzar further mentioned that similar husband-wife stories have been depicted in plays like ‘Aadhe Adhure’ by Mohan Rakesh, ‘Shantata Court Chalu Aahe’ by Vijay Tendulkar and ‘Hayavadana’ by Girish Karnad. “As Naseer’s character is that of a theatre artist there is a mention of these plays in the movie, and I have shown how the same situation is reflected in his own life”, explained Gulzar. He further mentioned that in such stories there is no villain and that all are positive characters. He added that such characters are seen more in urban areas.
The movie was also considered ahead of its time as the wife is involved in adultery and is shown as one who leads life on her own terms.
On a concluding note, when asked why this film was never released, Gulzar said that it possibly was because of some obligations on the part of producers and that he was not in the best position to explain the same.