Potli Baba Gulzar Ki – A Bundle Full Of Profundity – Gulzar

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Aaya… re baba aaya
Ghunghar waali chhenu waale jhunnu ka baba,
Kisson ka, kahaniyon ka geeton ka chaba,
Hey.. aaya aaya chhenu wale jhunnu ka baba…
Potli me hari-bhari pariyon ke par,
Mandiron ki ghantiyan, kalisaaon ka baagh
Hey.. aaya aaya chhenu wali jhunnu ka baba…

Before I get into translating these lines, let me tell you that these lines remind me of my childhood days. When we waited for the telecast of Potli Baba Ki on Doordarshan every Sunday!! For me Gulzar is so much like this Baba with his potli. And he alone knows what all he has in his potli. According to the Wikipedia, the Baba with his potli is constant in search of various stories, fables, songs, which his mother has hidden under the rocks. He grows younger day by day. And once all these stories are collected, he will be a child again. The character is so very Gulzar. So much him!! This Chhenu waala baba from Jhunnu, is Gulzar himself. Kisson ka, kahaniyon ka, geeton ka chaba!! Chaba is a container from rural Punjab, it is used especially to keep roti, chapati and it stays warm for a longer time. Gulzar is this chaba. Full of kissey, kahani, kavita and geet. And what a delight his potli is!! Profundity, intensity, insightful, effervescent, deep rooted. These and some more adjectives to it. One really can’t fathom the depth of his work. And yes, he’s getting younger day by day.

Have you heard the lyrics of Mirzya (2016)? Gulzar is profound as those lyrics in Mirzya. Ye waadiyan doodhiya kohre ki, inmein sadiyan behti hain……his lyrics have been flowing from generations. Marta nahi ishq O Mirzya, sadiyan Sahiban rehti hai…..his literary works is eternal like the love of Mirza Sahiban. His lyrics describe him the best –

Ek sadi se aaya tha wo
Ik sadi ko jaana tha
Ik junoon tha, O dhool udaata
Zameen zameen, falak falak
Kahan kahan dhoonde tujhe……

It is like he’s been there since ages. From one century to another, becoming immortal song after song, dialogue after dialogue, story after story. A passion for writing. A passion enveloping the sky and the earth at the same time with his writing. Search for him in his lyrics. Or if you see these lyrics from Rangoon (2017) –

Sufi ke sulfe ki
Lau uth ke kehti hai
Aatish ye bujhke bhi
Jalti hi rehti hai
Yeh ishq hai, ye ishq hai

The lyrics intoxicated the music world. And to think that it was written by a person who turned 83 this year (when this article was written). Young isn’t he? Or else who can drug you with the lyrics as these?
He intrigues you with his special vocabulary. He sets you on a frenzy to find the deep hidden meanings of those words. One might find the words used very weird. But the moment you read it you know that there’s much more to what actually is said. He plays with the words. He takes one word and he capers with it, much to the amusement of the listeners. Have you ever seen aankhon ki khushboo? He has seen it and he also describes it to you. Mehekti khushboo. You almost start seeing the fragrance. He plays with science – Udte pairon ke taley jab behti hai zameen…..really? Yes. And you know you are literally flying with those lyrics and the earth beneath is flowing. He meets people in his stories….fragrant people. Didn’t you get it? Well that’s Guzlar….he says – Khushboo jaise log miley afsane mein!! Not only khushboo, he talks to the flowers too or the flowers talk to him. That’s the reason he says – Gulon ko sunana zara, sadaein bheji hain, gulon ke haath bahot si duaein bheji hain. For him wind has horns – Hawa ke seeng na pakdo, khaded deti hai, zameen se pedon ke taankey udhed deti hai…!!

If he is profound in philosophy, he is the child in a children’s song. But the playfulness is there too. A child’s playfulness. Only a child can say – Lakdi ki kaathi kaathi pe ghoda. Have you ever thought about a dinosaur as a lizard’s grandfather?? He has, the child in him has. Chhipkali ke nana danasur, chhipkali ke hain sasur….there you go….father in law too. Gibberish song too. Tap tap topi topi top mein jo doobe, far far farmayishi dekhein hain ajoobe….or have you ever got a letter from your teacher with a cat in it? Aa aa ee ee aa aa ee master ji ki aa gayi chitthi, chitthi mein se nikli billi…!!

If this wasn’t enough there’s an entire song from Jungle Book.

Jungle Jungle baat chali hai
Pata chala hai..
Arre chaddi pehen ke phool khila hai
Phool khila hai
Ek parinda hai sharminda,
Tha woh nanga
Bhai isse to ande ke andar,
Tha woh changa
Soch raha hai bahar aakhar
Kyun nikla hai
Arre chaddi pehen ke phool khila hai
Phool khila hai

Did you just smile after reading the lyrics? Yes. That’s Gulzar again. He brings a smile on your face no matter what your age is. We also have Gulzar playing with the moon. Topaz moon. Yes that’s his favourite. He is fascinated by the moon. Moon is his favourite companion. Gulzar has created a magical phrase from 2 of his well known works – Pukhraj and Raat Pashmine Ki.

Ek sabab marne ka, ek talab jeene ki,
Chaand Pukhraj ka, raat pashmine ki!!!

(In my soul there’s a reason to die, a desire to live,
To relish those topaz moons, to savour those velvety nights)

He talks about the kiss of moon – Chaand ka chumma or he counts the moonful nights – 116 chaand ki raatein, his path passes through the moon – chaand se hokar sadak jaati hai, he steals the moon – chaand chura ke laaya hun, he not only bites the moon but also swallows it – chaand ko chabane ki raat aayi hai…..or haan main chaand nigal gayi!! His figurative language, his visual description, his metaphors leave an indelible, haunting mark on you.

If Gulzar is all about philosophical best, he is also about zaniest best. He can be thrilling and absurd at the same time. He makes a song out of things from everyday use. Gullak, bartan, chulha, katori, namak etc are some of his best pals. Sometimes he takes help of other language too Panta bhate taatka Baigun Pora!!!

Gulzar and profundity go hand in hand. Be it for life, love, children or even item songs. He refers to Ghalib’s haveli in an item song. Ballimaaran se Daribe talak, teri meri kahani dilli mein. Sometimes he pays tributes to Khusro, Ghalib and Wajid Ali Shah too. (Zihaal-e-miskeen, Jee dhoondta hai, Khush raho ehl-e-watan).

A few mentions from his potli and you feel, phew there’s so much more remaining. The potli just seems small but it it as profound as him. More you dig into that bundle more and more profundity is found. Pearls of wisdom, moonlit love nights, children’s playground, he has all in that bundle. So whenever Baba Gulzar stops by your side, just ask him to open the bundle he’s carrying, dig in the treasure and savour it. Jhunnu ka baba is here with all his eccentric stories and songs and he’ll enthral his audience with profundity!!

Avid music lover and Dev Anand fan


  1. Hb

    March 10, 2019 at 10:40 am

    Rotli baba ki .. thx for such a beautiful explanation of a gem song with relived times and memories.. kind of basking in the glory .. just kind of relived a vacation day of childhood.. best .. 👏👍🏼

    • Deepa

      March 10, 2019 at 1:21 pm

      Thank you so much 🙂

  2. Bharat Deshmukh

    August 18, 2019 at 8:41 am

    I was already smiling before the jungle book lyrics, as if you read mind of your readers.Great work and God bless you

    • Deepa

      September 3, 2019 at 7:49 pm


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