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Apeksha Bagchi

IWB Blogger

I Had Never Really Thought Of Becoming A Lyricist At All, Says Kausar Munir

  • IWB Post
  •  October 5, 2018

Known for being a pro at penning down both hit item numbers and feminist anthems, Kausar Munir has successful songs to her name like Falak Tak Chal (Tashan, 2008), Mashallah (Ek Tha Tiger, 2012), Love You Zindagi (Dear Zindagi, 2016), and many more.

“When I started writing for ‘Jassi Jaisi…,’ I was one of the assisting writers in the team. In a span of one year, I was operating as one of the lead writers on the sets. I strongly believe that one’s sincerity and hard work never go waste. Developing these qualities in you is half the battle won, this is what I tell my teen daughter, too! Luckily, in this field, there is no hierarchy system and the one who writes from the heart gets to be on the top,” Munir had shared in an interview with IWB.

In a recent interview with The Quint, she talks about one of her favorite songs that she has written, her journey of becoming one of the most sought-after Bollywood lyricists and being a female writer in the industry.

On her favorite song that she has penned

“I can’t really say, but I have a soft corner for Ishaqzaade, because it was my first film. Falak Tak was just one song and it got me a lot of freedom to do my thing and it was also very widely appreciated. A lot of other stuff, which wasn’t really heard, was in not-so-successful films like Phantom. Nachda was one such song and I feel that it was a really superior number, but nobody remembers it.”

On her journey of becoming a lyricist

“I really never thought of being a lyricist, at all. I was always fond of poetry since I was a kid. Some people are poetic-minded or not, and they get poetry or not, but it’s difficult to cultivate it. You can study it, but you can’t always intuitively understand a poets metaphor, it’s not every person’s cup of tea. But I was fond of it as a kid. Whether it was my schooling and subsequently my graduation in English Literature from St. Xavier’s College… so I was always fond of poetry and also old films songs. I would listen to them on the radio…

I remember I had a notebook and if I liked any song, I used to just write down the lyrics of that song. I used to just write a few lines here and there, just for my own sake more than anything else. I never had any intention of getting published and certainly not of getting into writing films songs. In fact, my work life started with researching for documentary films and television. I started writing for television, for Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin. The guy heading the whole writing team was Vijay Krishna Acharya, ‘Victor’ as we used to call him. So when he was making his first film Tashan, he knew of my interests in poetry, and one day he was making us listen to his songs. I had some suggestions, to which he asked if I would like to try my hand at writing lyrics. I said okay and that ended up being Falak Tak Chal.

Then few years later in fact, I again got a call from ‘Yashraj’ and they just wanted to try me out for what then became Ishaqzaade, it was after Ishaqzaade in 2012, that I started doing lyrics.

A song is not purely about inspiration. It’s about the brief, the character, the script, the director, the music composer and the melody that you have to write to exactly. So that is a completely different ball game. It’s a very technical and creative skill. Mostly, I write to a particular melody. I think only twice I have written without a melody – Mana Ke Hum Yaar Nahi and Pareshaan.”

On songs that she found difficult to write

“Generally speaking, I think I speak for most of my colleagues, that party songs, item songs, shaadi songs, are very difficult to write. I really admire people like Kumar, Mayur Puri and Amitabh Bhattacharya, who do that so well. I have written very few of these. To write these it with a certain darja, is not at all easy.

For example, Tu Hi Hai from Dear Zindagi, I was reluctant in presenting it to Amit ji, because I thought it was far too in your face, as far as lyrics are concerned, you know. But they all said to me “No, it’s the introduction of Ali Zafar’s character, he could be singing anything.” Aimt ji said, “What’s wrong with you, this is so lovely.” So everyone was very happy, to the contrary. I had a difficult time writing Love You Zindagi because it was so simple that it was very difficult. Because you have to kind of really break it down to something that will work universally. So in that album, that was the most difficult song to write. I think I did three or four very different versions before I finally came to this one.

I think people don’t realize that it is easy to write difficult poetic stuff. If you are a lyric writer or poet, that comes naturally to you. But it is really difficult to write the simple stuff.”

On being a female writer in the industry

“As far as I remember, my acceptance or rejection has been purely on the basis of my merit. I never felt as if I am at an advantage or a disadvantage as a writer in this industry. Generally, as a woman, of course, we face many, many difficulties, when it comes to household and children, but that is society at large, not this particular job or this particular industry. And here I only speak for myself.”

On people’s mentality that music and melody today don’t match up to the seventies and the golden era of Hindi film music

“It annoys me! Back then, only 500 songs were made and now 5000 songs are being made. Even if 1000 out of those are good, you’ll only hear the top 50 that the radio channels play. Earlier, there was one film which used to play for twenty-five weeks and be a silver jubilee and become that super hit cassette. So there are a lot of things that are lost today.

The time you are talking about, they used to have kavi sammelans in colleges. Now we have rave parties! So the music will reflect the language and the culture of the times we live in. But I think in the last ten years, you had Rehman, you had Amit Trivedi, who has done wonderful work. I think Rockstar is a once in a lifetime album, in terms of the music. But yes, one can’t fight nostalgia. In fact, the music of the eighties and nineties was very bad. Compared to that, I think the quality of music has improved a lot. A lot of the musicians today come from very literate backgrounds and they know what they are talking about.”

On working with Sridevi in English Vinglish

“Yes, I was a dialogue coach and at the end of it we became friends. She was someone who didn’t get close to people so easily. But if she trusted you and gave you that privilege, then it’s wonderful. We ended up being friends and she was very warm, very lovely, very caring, very humble, down to earth. I don’t want to go much into the details but yes, I was honored that she trusted me enough to let me be her friend, which she did very rarely.”

H/T: The Quint

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