On World Poetry Day, we spoke to Irshad Kamil, who has penned innumerable hits for Bollywood blockbusters like Rockstar, Aashiqui 2, Jab We Met, Highway, Cocktail, Once Upon a Time In Mumbaai and most recently, Sultan and Tiger Zinda Hai. He has touched our soul with his beautiful verses.
In this interview, the lyricist talks about the remix culture, the importance of good lyrics in Bollywood songs and his poetry band.
In the times of remixes, you have a poetry band – The INK Band.
We are not made for remixes. We come from a culture where beautiful words and good composition is loved for years. So, let’s come up with good lyrics and original work. Let’s not think about thump alone. Let’s underline the themes and understand the feelings. Let’s connect with simple feelings in the story rather than grandeur of a movie. Simple gestures of love go a long way. Poetry is that and that’s what makes our songs so loved, all around the world.
The INK Band mirrors the manifestation of moods into music and meaning. The INK Band combines simple, conversational songs and poems with music. We have built an easy connect with young listeners and poetry aficionados across all age groups because what we do makes for easy listening, much like in a college jam session. We will focus on my non-film poetry to offer something fresh to our audience. Starting off on World Poetry Day is our tribute to this art of weaving words.
Recent songs don’t have a long shelf life like the beautiful old songs. Do you think it is because we don’t have more poetry in our songs today?
There are several reasons to it. After three or four replays, people lose interest. The basic ingredient humans crave is peace. People strive for peace. Now, thump cannot give you peace, but melodies can. Beautiful words can. People can listen to thumping music for a few moments in a day, but if they want to sit back and relax with music, then it has to have soul in it. It has to be relaxing. Today’s music can provoke you, but you cannot stay in a provoked state for long. So when you say that poetry is losing its essence in Bollywood music today, it seems so but it is not true. Dil Diya Galan and Tera Noor from Tiger Zinda Hai and Hawayein and Ghar songs from Jab Harry Met Sejal are the most recent examples. If they are still on top of charts means people are listening to these songs. According to me, the industry needs poetry. I think for music to survive or to maintain longevity, we will continuously need good verse and original music.
What is your take on the ongoing trend of recreating and bringing back old songs?
People want it easy. If you want original work, you will have to shell out a good sum. You’ll have to invest. Whereas while remixing, you already have work that has worked for long, and loved. It is easier to add a few new flavors to old songs. It is like the difference between construction and repairs. We are looking at budgets. We are not looking at aesthetics and originality. If classics have survived for so long, I am sure they have some soul in it. People who make these remixes, I really salute their audacity.
What are some of the challenges that you face in this industry?
For me, I think it is hard to save Irshad Kamil in a song. Sometimes that feeling comes when a particular song is made in a particular way. But I like retaining my flavour in my songs. This also happens because you don’t write independently. You write based on a situation in a story, and you may or may not like that particular situation. Also, maybe a character thinks and talks in a particular way, which might not always match the song. Then comes composition. Maybe, you wanted to use a particular word which expresses what you want in a better manner but you couldn’t because of limitations of composition. Then the flavour of the movie and the songs have to match. So there are so many angles you have to consider before you pen down your verse.
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