It all began on February 5, 2012 when Sharma got a call from eminent poet-lyricist Gulzar asking him to come over and meet him.
"I had presented him a thesis on his lyrics at Prithvi Theatre that very evening. When I met him, to my utter delight he asked me to publish it and also arranged for a publisher. After seven long years, that dream finally took shape on his birthday (August 18)," recalls Sharma.
An IIIT Calcutta and MICA alumnus, he recently joined Rediffusion as head of strategic planning from Ogilvy’s 82.5 communications, where he had helped shape strategy for many iconic brands including Bisleri, Vespa, Cipla and Franklin Templeton. The Bisleri work "Jo Bisleri nahi, wo peena nahi" fetched multiple awards.
Sharma believes that a strategist should be interested in culture and poetry because poetry is never cut off from the time it is being written in. "It drinks and vomits the time it has been written in. And since I was always interested in people, my interest in poetry led me to Gulzar's lyrics telling the stories of emotions and relationships. Essentially, advertising too is about that," he shares.
The software engineer turned Strategic Planner has spent nearly 11 years in both traditional and digital strategy. These include five years of experience in the FMCG sector working on a range of skin care brands like Clean & Clear (J&J), Neutrogena (J&J), Margo, BoroPlus (Emami) and Nycil (Kraft Heinz).
A poetry connoisseur from childhood, Sharma tells us that the book is his understanding of the different layers of Gulzar's lyrics through grammar, emotion and footprints of time. “It delves deeper than the words. Since his songs too are soulful, they are filled with human insights and everyday emotions we all feel,” he shares.
Initially Gulzar himself had arranged for a publisher, but, "Since I took almost seven years to finally finish the book, a different publisher - Become Shakespeare - part-funded it under its Wordit Art Fund, an initiative to encourage new authors," he reveals.
When you hear a song, people often go "arre ye to Gulzar-type hai" and that Gulzar-type has been coined as Gulzariyat, is how Sharma chooses to describe it.
When asked about the brainstorming behind the the title, Sharma explains, "It's not about the man but about his thoughts, and if thoughts could have a title what would that be? Gulzariyat is about Gulzar-like expressions, use of metaphors etc, which he is master of and that's how the title came up."
Sharma has already started working on his next, a work of fiction. “The novel is about self-discovery and a man's journey to find his voice,” he says.