Gulzar was born in a Kalra Sikh family, to Makhan Singh Kalra and Sujan Kaur, in Dina, Jhelum District, British India (now in Pakistan). In school, he had read translations of the works of Tagore which he recounted as one of his life's many turning points. Due to the partition, his family split and he had to stop his studies and come to Mumbai (then called Bombay) to support his family. Sampooran took up many small jobs in Mumbai to eke out a living, including one at a garage at Vichare motors on Bellasis road (Mumbai). There he used to touch up accident-damaged cars by mixing shades of paint, in his own words "I had a knack for colors". His father rebuked him for being a writer initially. He took the pen name Gulzar Deenvi and later simply Gulzar. In an interview with Rajyasabha TV, he recounted enjoying his work as a painter as it allowed him a lot of time to simultaneously read, write, attend college and be involved with the PWA (Progressive writers association).