Lyrically Yours

Renowned lyricist, film-maker and poet Gulzar talks about his musical journey and why he feels it’s necessary to be in sync with today’s times

Written by Screen Correspondent | Mumbai | Updated: November 14, 2014 1:00:14 am
Gulzar Gulzar

How would you compare contemporary music to that composed in the earlier days?

I feel that every era has its own music and tempo. If life changes its pace then music has to change. I don’t agree with the view that back then there was melody and today there’s no melody. Regardless of what we remember, today’s music and rhtythm is different, it’s beautiful and we’re moving at that pace. If you want to live in olden times, then according to me you’re not in sync with today’s trends.

What is the secret of your success?

I’m successful because of people, not because of myself.

Do you listen to contemporary music?

Not much. I do not listen to the radio. On television, I watch whatever is being played. The songs that become famous find you on their own.

What should senior artistes do in order to fit in with young talent?

Whatever the age may be, we’re all working together. Why should anyone go back to the 20th century? I should adapt to the 21st century and live with this generation. What is the point of going back in time, I try to keep up with today’s generation.
For instance, the most beautiful aspect with the three musketeers (Shankar, Ehsaan, Loy) as I call them, is that they work according to the film’s script. The story becomes integrated as we work together and that is why Shankar can tell me to alter the lyrics, while I can tell him, ‘the tune is nice, but it doesn’t depict the mood’.

What was the creative process while penning the lyrics for Kill Dil?

The music of Kill Dil has references to old songs. For instance, in Bawra, when the song plays, the character remembers from where he came and begins reflecting on yesteryears. I tried to knit this song with visuals and merged them with the words. To merge them correctly, I consult Shankar whose spontaneity is dangerous. If I tell him something randomly, he’ll compose a tune and is continuously adjusting notes and convincing me that the tune will happen. It’s a continuous process of making music, writing scenes and songs, it all materialises together and not separately; then the pakwan gets cooked. You can’t serve onions, rice, lamb separately and call it biryani.

How was it working with Shaad?

Shaad’s films usually have a message and he has a lot of youthful energy. His energy is noteworthy. The best part about Kill Dil is that it has humour, romance, emotions and violence, but it’s the emotions that always attach you. It’s not the crime that you notice, but the characters and their relationships. The story begins with two children who have been picked up from the streets, and regardless of what they do, they’ve gained your sympathy. You feel like you’re a part of them in everything they do even if they are flashing guns. I hope I’m not revealing anything, but Shaad starts with such an innocent and beautiful scene. Both Ranveer and Ali are gazing at the starlit sky and we talk about how after a man’s demise, he becomes a star. I felt that they’re looking for their place among the stars and how they’re counting the people they sent heavenwards. With that humour and innocence, you start with this song, Taara… dekh taara..Aasmaan pe latka hai bechaara. Your reference to that song comes from that innocence and emotion. Our director has integrated everything— the script, situation, visuals, which I think is Shaad’s biggest asset and that’s why I love working with him. He’s very creative in every department.

These days music has become more prominent than lyrics. According to you, how important are lyrics in a song?

If you separate words, nothing will be important, neither the song nor the lyrics. They’re important if they’re blended well together, and it’s the tune that becomes a hit and catches on even when you don’t know the words. It’s only later that you start looking for the lyrics.

It’s often said that some lyricists carry their own tune.

In this industry there were only two people whose songs worked because of their lyrics, namely, Sahir Ludhianvi and Pandit Pradeep. Pandit Pradeep used to also sing well and in sync with the tune. That man stood by his words, tune and meter. Sahir Ludhianvi had penned some beautiful words; pedhe ki shako ki soi soi chandni aur thodi derr mein thakk ke laut jayengi. No one else has said this. I’m not saying that others haven’t written, but this is my observation as I go through the history of lyric writing.


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