The award is given on the basis of recommendations of a committee of eminent persons set up by the government for this purpose. This year, a seven-member jury of artists unanimously recommended Gulzar for it.
Born in 1934 in Punjab in pre-independence India, Gulzar started his career in 1956. As a lyricist, he got his first break in Bimal Roy's "Bandini". He then worked with leading composers like Sachin Dev Burman, Salil Chowdhury, Shankar-Jaikishan, Hemant Kumar, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Madan Mohan, Rajesh Roshan, Anu Malik and the new age Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy.
Gulzar also had successful partnerships with Rahul Dev Burman, A.R. Rahman and Vishal Bhardwaj. He has contributed to several films as script, story and dialogue writer. His directorials include "Mere Apne", "Koshish", "Áandhi", "Kinara", "Khushboo", "Ángoor", "Libaas", "Meera", "Lekin" and "Maachis". Gulzar's small screen stint included creating series like "Mirza Ghalib" and "Tahreer Munshi Premchand Ki". He wrote lyrics for Doordarshan serials "Hello Zindagi", "Potli Baba Ki" and "Jungle Book".
The 79-year-old was conferred the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2002 and the Padma Bhushan in 2004. He has won a number of National Film Awards and 20 Filmfare Awards. At the 81st Oscars in 2009, he won the Academy Award for best original song for "Jai ho" with Rahman. His poetry has been published in three compilations: "Chand Pukhraaj Ka", "Raat Pashminey Ki" and "Pandrah Paanch Pachattar". His short stories are published in "Raavi Paar" and "Dhuan".