Amitabh Bhattacharya talks about how his lyrics are born out of everyday life.
Somewhere towards the end of the interview at his sisters apartment in Andheri,Amitabh Bhattacharya smiles at the uncaniness of the conversation that preceded it. The last two hours were spent talking about his work the easy-going,listener-friendly flow of his lyrics and more technical things such as the metric precision of the verses that he brings through his vast experience as a singer. But dig deeper and one finds out that his original creative sources lie in the course of everyday life. The tea-dipped biscuit then becomes one such instance,an unexpected sample of one of Bhattacharyas personal favourites that go Chai mein dooba biscoot ho gaya, from the peppy Punjabi number Ainvayi Ainvayi from Band Baaja Baarat.
“Something that is inherently part of our daily lives always works. I remember laughing at the humour myself when I came up with that line, he says. There are more examples that demonstrate his ability to churn lyrics out of the ordinary and extract humour from it,making them instantly connectable with the youth. For instance,in Saabun ki shakal mein,beta tu toh nikla keval jhaag,from Delhi Bellys DK Bose,or Main nahin jaana bistar ko chhod ke from the Monday-blues song from Go Goa Gone.
Currently Bhattacharya is on a dream run. The 36-year old lyricist has penned most of the memorable songs in recent times,including Badtameez Dil from Yeh Jawaani Hain Deewani and the chartbusters from Go Goa Gone. His upcoming films include Ghanchakkar,Lootera,Chennai Express,an adaptation of 2 States,and Unglee. Bombay Velvet will see Bhattacharya coming together with Amit Trivedi and Anurag Kashyap for a full-fledged album after the National Award-winning soundtrack for Dev D.
Bhattacharya,who burst into the scene with Dev Ds Emosanal Atyachaar,could have well been typecast in the bold,quirky zone of songs. But he hasnt limited himself. His range includes the simple profundity of the khadi Hindi as in Udaan,or the soulful Iktara from Wake up Sid!,Character Dheela for Salman Khan,Agneepaths Chikni Chameli and Deva Shree Ganesha.
And to think Bhattacharya came to Mumbai from Lucknow to become a playback singer. His stepping stone to becoming a lyricist was writing dummy lyrics for colleagues-turned-friends such as Pritam and Trivedis erstwhile band,Om. I wasnt eager,but when I wrote,I did it with thought and sincerity, he says.
His lucid verses loosely rooted in the Hindi-steeped milieu of Lucknowhad started getting noticed,and in 2007,he wrote the lyrics for Rajkumar Guptas Aamir. Lucknow has the most correct diction of spoken Hindi,and somewhere my homework took place unknowingly, says Bhattacharya,who has lent his vocals to songs like Mitra from Band Baaja Baarat and Iktara,and the caricaturish voice in Emosanal Attyachar and What to Do from Aiyyaa.
Aamir was followed by Dev D,a film that compelled him to take his job as a lyricist seriously. To fit director Anurag Kashyaps brief for the song sequence,he drew the lyrical idea from one of his earliest associations with his hometown; the spoofy sher-o-shaayaris emblazoned on flashy stickers inside the six-wheeler public transports in the city. That gave the idea of having verses that would end in anti-climactic twists,such as Tauba Tera Jalwa,Tauba Tera Pyaar and Tera Emosanal Attyachar.
His fresh and original approach towards lyrics is direct,devoid of sentimentality and indicates a mind that is alert to signals from his surroundings. I seek interesting words, he says. Character Dheela came out of the numerous Raas Leela jokes on facebook,and the Honey-Bunny jingle was modeled on a nursery rhyme, he says,nonchalantly.
As for the trends that he so often creates the cuss word innuendos and wordplay as in the delightful gibberish of Badtameez Dil for this Kishore Kumar idolizer and a fan of the nonsensical rhyming of Bengali poet Sukumar Ray,it comes as easy as it could.