Like the idiosyncratic patterns of all creations in the world,Niranjan Iyengars lyrics arise from the unlikeliest of places,sometimes finding the ethereal in the mundane. The sombre,old world charm of Ek ghadi in D-Day was penned while Iyengar was shopping for swimming trunks at a mall in Ahmedabad.
While I was deciding between Adidas and Nike,the line came to me,Tere lab pe mere hone ka nishaana baaki hai… and within 40 minutes,I had finished writing the song. Then I texted Nikhil (Advani,director) and Shankar (Mahadevan,of composer trio Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy), he recalls,sitting in his Bandra apartment. A few minutes before the start of the interview,Iyengar was talking to Karan Johar on the phone,giving him a pep-talk before the filmmaker makes his acting debut in Anurag Kashyaps Bombay Velvet.
Hes nervous, he says,about his long-time friend who later turned collaborator in films such as Kal Ho Na Ho,My Name is Khan and Student of the Year,among other Dharma Productions. Iyengars is a story without struggles,he admits,at least at a broader,Bollywood level. As a journalist with a film magazine in the 90s,he was friends with Johar and fashion designer Manish Malhotra at a time when they were also starting out. He knew Shah Rukh Khan,Aamir Khan and Karisma Kapoor even before they became stars,and is modest about his achievements as a dialogue and lyric writer in Bollywood. I had no burning desire to be a dialogue writer,screenwriter or lyricist. My career happened because I started working with friends. I wrote a book on Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham for Johar and till then,I had no idea that I was going to do this forever, says the 44-year-old.
Iyengar is well aware of the popular perception that associates him with Johars production house,although he doesnt feel it represents his body of work. Judging by the good response for D-Day,a film far removed in style from Johars productions,he hopes his work will be better appreciated.
I had also done Jism,Paap and Rog with Pooja (Bhatt),a Rumi Jaffrey comedy,Madhur Bhandarkars Fashion and Heroine,but unfortunately they never came to the fore. Karans movies are large,and they did very well, he says. Currently,he is working on Sonys upcoming serial Jee Le Zara and he has penned a portion of the soon-to-be-aired series,24.
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