On 21st July 2020, three-time National Award recipient, Swanand Kirkire, known for his works as a lyricist, in Haazaron Khwaishein Aisi, Parineeta, Lage Raho Munna Bhai, Khoya Khoya Chand, 3 Idiots, Barfi, English Vinglish, Vicky Donor, Kai Po Che, Fitoor, PK, Tanhaji, etc. vented his thoughts on how ignored or disregarded, the lyricists are by streaming apps in the country.
Soon, in the form of replies and shares, the audience, and the artists from the music industry extended their support towards Kirkire.
“The momentum picked up when people started showing interest, even though the companies and streaming apps don’t,” says Kirkire.
The gravitas of the situation ushered in more artists like Varun Grover and Kausar Munir to co-write a song. After 9 days (30th July), they released a satirical track, Credit De Do Yaar. The song was composed and produced by Chinmayi Tripathi & Joell Mukherjii. It features Sameer Anjaan, Amitabh Bhattacharya, Neelesh Misra, Manoj Muntashir, Mayur Puri, Kumaar, Shellee, Anvita Dutt, Swanand Kirkire, Kausar Munir, Raj Shekhar, Abhiruchi Chand, Hussain Haidry, Puneet Sharma, and Varun Grover.
“We keep talking while people listen but are all momentary. And soon after a few retweets, people forget about it and return to their normal lives. We thought we need to do something that will make people notice,” says Varun Grover, National Award recipient lyricist, a poet, writer, a stand-up comic, with notable works like Gangs of Wasseypur I and II, Dum Laga Ke Haisha, Bombay Velvet, Masaan, Fan, Udta Punjab, Sui Dhaga, Sonchiriya, etc.
“We wanted to keep it light. We don’t want to create a ruckus. Nowadays, we hear “gentle reminder” being said quite often. It was something like that,” adds multiple- awards winner, Kausar Munir, with popular works like Ishaqzaade, Ek Tha Tiger, Dhoom 3, Jai Ho, Tevar, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Phantom, Dear Zindagi, Secret Superstar, Padman, etc.
Who Credits Whom?
“Dear music streaming apps/platforms & the official youtube channels of various music companies, please properly credit lyrics writers when you stream/play songs. Currently, no music streaming apps/platforms have any algorithm of prominently displaying lyrics credits or making a song searchable by lyrics writer’s name.
On official Youtube channels of almost every big music company, hundreds of song videos have wrong or missing credits of lyrics writers. Be it legends like Sahir saab, Shailendra saab, Gulzar saab, Javed Akhtar saab, Anand Bakshi saab, Sameer saab or contemporary writers like Puneet Sharma, Abhiruchi Chand and others – this culture of apathy and erasure runs across generations. Respect is all we desire.”
-Video description under Credit De Do Yaar on Varun Grover’s channel.
“We want to build a culture. It should affect the audience as well as the people in power. Streaming platforms need to credit us, they need to put our names in the algorithm itself. Even if there is a mention of our names, we need to look for the place where it is. It is not displayed upfront.
We want to reach them, and the music companies who release their songs on YouTube where either the credit has been given, not given correctly, or not given at all. Our immediate goal is to make our voices heard without sounding brittle or coarse about it. It is not a protest. Music is our field, we want to be sweet and musical about it,” says Grover.
The demand seems humble, but the message is direct. Through the description written above, it is literal that the lyricists in the Hindi film world feel neglected. As the title of the track, Credit De Do Yaar, suggests there is a need for accreditation/ validation that the lyricists are looking for which heightens the lack thereof.
“While a certain song, sung and composed by, have names to follow and are featured everywhere, why doesn’t the same apply to the writers of the song? All the platforms are mediums to get the song across to the listeners and give accurate and relevant information about it.
It even takes away the credibility of the platform because they are cataloguing and giving out information so why would they leave out one-third of the information,” states Kausar.
As Kausar states, the platforms, such as music streaming, do not have a provision to check the details of the songwriters. Even on user-generated content platforms, the mention of the lyricist on the official page of the song is hard to find.
But what about impact?
“See, we are trying. If we don’t try, we won’t know. It is making a difference because people are responding to the video of Credit De Do Yaar. We are thankful that the audience is extending their support. We are doing all this to make an effect. This is a basic necessity.
If they aren’t being able to give us credit then what is the point? You are playing our songs, just give us the credit for our work. That’s it!
The filmmakers give us recognition for our work in their movies, so why can’t they? Things in India take time to change, it will happen for sure,” asserts optimistic Kirkire.
The need to credit the lyricists may not be limited to just having names under the song titles. It goes way beyond and into the understanding and acceptance of the listeners who consume music recklessly. As an imbibing culture, music plays inherently in India. However, the culture of acknowledging the person who puts in thought, and emotion through words is what might fare farther.
“Even in the 60s and 70s, legendary poet/writer, Sahir Ludhianvi had to fight with AIR (All India Radio), so that the writers were credited when their song was played. They (AIR) already mentioned ‘geetkar’ (singer), and ‘sangeetkar’ (composer), the ‘nagma nigar’ then onwards started to appear,” highlights Kausar.
“It is a little mind-boggling, except for the fact that it has been a long tradition of ignoring a writer and not giving them their due acknowledgment,” she adds.
Talk of the Town Yet?
Crediting the authors/writers have been subjected to much scrutiny and debate. IPRS and Music Plus recently roped in esteemed composers like Anandji Virji Shah (Kalyanji-Anandji) and Lalit Pandit (Jatin-Lalit), along with Mayur Puri (Composer) to address the elephant in the room.
“We had been talking about this for quite some time, and we have been vocal about crediting the songwriters even on social media, any live events, or interviews. SWA (Screen Writers Association) and IPRS have also been talking about this topic,” adds Varun.
While the need to compose a song like Credit De Do Yaar is the first of its kind, the way the song has been presented might prevent it from unprecedented backlash.
“There is no need to take everything negatively. The way we presented the video of Credit De Do Yaar was by putting all ours heads together. Even Varun’s cat appeared in the video.” says Kirkire.
Is it too early to expect?
“Us talking to each other is a hopeful sign. The listening audience has been supportive and the media too is picking it up in a positive way,” believes Kausar.
In Kirkire’s words, “Till the time things don’t change, we will continue making music.”
So, let there be music!