Songs are written as some emotions cannot be expressed through dialogues. The biggest misunderstanding is that songs written from the heart. You cannot write a song without using your brains. You have to write a song keeping in mind the character, story of the film, situation and the meter.
A man who dons the lyricist’s hat beautifully is Manoj Muntashir. He has also written scripts for television reality shows and dialogues for movies like ‘Bahubali 1 & 2‘. Nowadays he working on a script and producing a movie. He is of the thought that dreams die due to the fear of the unknown and one has to overcome this fear.
“Sar katane k hote hai saude…
Aashiqui itni sasti nahi hai.”
With these thoughts Manoj Muntashir took the ‘leap of fate’ and arrived in Mumbai ready to face the struggles for making it big in the film industry.
In an exclusive interview, for our segment Interview of the Week, Manoj Muntashir explained how he has kept his passion for writing alive, challenges in penning for recreations, living the character he is writing about and one of the biggest song of 2019 ‘Teri Mitti.’
The ‘Teri Mitti’ story
The emotions behind the song are very strong. It is an imaginary situation. Anurag Singh the director of ‘Kesari’, showed me the footage of the film where the brave soldiers are lying dead. All the soldiers had something that was close to their heart in their hand. I just had the visuals to relate to and write the song. A lyricist has to understand all the dimensions of the visuals. My thoughts were that when a soldier takes a bullet he doesn’t do it because he is getting a salary. After he is hit, what would his thoughts be till his last breath? He might be thinking of his home where he will never return, must be proud to be a martyr, reminiscing about his mother or girlfriend.
What I wrote are not my words but the thoughts of these brave soldiers. On social media I have across a number of our defense personal sharing the video of the song, singing it and that is bigger than any award for me.
I would love it if the song gets the National Award. Be in any department; singing, composing or lyrics. Aurko has composed beautifully by keeping the human touch alive. The way B Praak’s has sung can get anyone emotional. If any of the two win I shall celebrate it as my award.
As a writer what is the psychology point you touch before writing for a character as you and the character can’t be the same.
Ironically the most important thing is that it is impossible for me to be similar to the character I am writing about. The character cannot be me as I am an individual with certain traits.
As Nida Fazli says,
“Har aadmi hai hote hai 10-20 aadmi,
Jisse se dekhna ho kahi baar dekho”
I cannot be similar to the character but there will be certain aspects of it that I can relate to. If I am writing about a character who is wronged and is angry, maybe somehow I have to find an angry person inside me. This is the process of writing. One just cannot start writing just by hearing the story. I try to connect to the character, I am not successful every time. But when I am, the song becomes a hit.
When you can’t develop a connection how do you go about it?
We write for a cinematic medium. The first rule of it is that you should write according to the story. For instance, the movie Darr’s script must be 150 pages long but Anand Bakshi summarised the movie in 2 verses,
“Tu haan kar ya naa kar, tu hai meri Kiran.”
I always believe one should not lose the soul of the character one is writing for. There are instances when the character lacks depth. In such cases one has to rely on their musical emotions, good tune and words.
When I was offered the movie ‘Kabir Singh’, I found it daunting to write for that character as it didn’t have a strand of romance in him. Whatever romance he had in him was over expressive and edgy. A person who sings has certain traits which were missing. I wrote songs keeping in mind what would Kabir’s thoughts be when he falls in love. So I penned lyrics like,
“Main baarish ki boli samajhta nahi tha
Hawaaon se main yun ulajhta nahi tha
Hai seene mein dil bhi
Kahaan thi mujhe ye khabar
Kahin pe hon raatein
Kahin pe savere
Awaargi hi rahi saath mere
Thehar ja, thehar ja
Ye kehti hai teri nazar”
in the song ‘Kaise Hua’.
Once you spend time in understanding a character and develop a bond with it, the lyrics and dialogues flow.
Does a writer have to stick to grammatical restrictions of the language? How much liberty can one take with the language?
I don’t take grammatical liberties and I believe no one should. But one can surely play with words by changing their ‘texture’ as it brings something new to the table.
Gulzar saab wrote “Panniyon pe cheete udati ladki.”
‘Paaniyon’ is not a word. He wrote it to bring a flavour to the song. Technically plural words are more pleasing to listen to. There is a different emotion to the word ‘Kahaniyaan’ than ‘Kahani’. I wrote a song called ‘Besabriya’. Writing it as ‘Besabri’ wouldn’t invoke as much emotion. We Indians subconsciously turn a word into its plural form, even if the form doesn’t exist. For example ‘Hawa’ which is an Arabic word doesn’t have a plural form. We Indians invented its plural form, ‘Hawayien’. We just love plural forms.
From a lyricists point of view, how do you look at recreations?
It is very challenging. If the song works the credits goes to the original song as it is already legendary. If it fails the recreators are blamed.
I have written many recreations. There is no guarantee that a classic if recreated will be a hit. While doing a recreation the responsibility is immense as the song is already a hit. We have to be on par with the classic and also modernise it, that is the challenge. I respect the original but while writing I look at it with the current scenario in mind.
For example, a verse in the song ‘Mere Rashke Qamar’,
“Jam may ghol kar..
Ishq ki mastiyaan..
Mazaa aa gayaa”
won’t touch a nerve with today’s generation.
So I wrote,
“Ret hi ret thi mere dil may bhari..
Pyaas hi pyaas thi yeh zindagi meri..
Aaj seharao may ishq k gaon may..
Baarishe gir k aayi mazaa aa gaya”
to modernise it.
It is necessary to bring a new flavour to the song while keeping its soul intact.
But at the same time there are albums like Kesari, Kabir Singh et el that are released which have original and quality content. The success of these albums sends a message that the audience has had enough of the recreations and they want original, quality content. The songs that are ruling the airwaves are such songs. Recreations have always happened. But they were one off. Now 5 out of 8 songs in an album are recreations. That’s the problem. I appreciate artists like Ariit Singh who have now refused to sing recreations. If a singer of his calibre, who is among the top 5 in Bollywood ever, takes a stand then it sends a message.