He's a visionary. Steeped in classicism with the right elements of contemporary
writing blended in his punchy pen, Irshad Kamil has achieved things almost impossible by 'today'
standards - quality amidst the quantity and a huge mass connect despite the critical hosannas
his work effortlessly gets. Add his scholarly and humble temperament and one feels that the
writer has been born after his time, for here was a man whose worth and verse would have been
truly appreciated in the Shailendra- Majrooh- Sahir- Bakshi era!
Undoubtedly, the Numero Uno lyricist in the last few years, Irshad Kamil is no less when it
comes to Literature. His analytical book, Samkaalin Hindi Kavita - Samay Aur Samaj,
published in 2011, was a sharp analysis of trends in Hindi poetry and is itself rich in the
Hindi idiom as opposed to Irshad's greatest forte: Urdu. Clearly, like all the greats in Hindi
cinema, Irshad has a commendable mastery on both the languages that are - in the words of many
eminent lyricists - like two inseparable sisters.
Irshad began his film career with Sudhir Mishra's Chameli, and 'Bhaage Re Mann'
and 'Sajna Ve Sajna' clearly demonstrated that substance and salability need not be
mutually exclusive. The writer has completed a decade in the profession, a career of steady ups
(and negligible 'downs' for reasons not in his control) that include Socha Na Tha, Jab We
Met, Love Aaj Kal, Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani, Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai, Action Replayy,
Mausam, Rockstar, Mere Brother Ki Dulhan and Cocktail. The Irshad juggernaut
thundered into 2013 with Special 26, Aashiqui 2, Raanjhanaa and Phata Poster Nikhla
Hero and has triumphed in this year already with the successful Yaariyan (for which
he wrote three songs) and the hit score of Yash Raj Films' Gunday.
With Imtiaz Ali's Highway, Farah Khan's Happy New Year, Kunal Deshmukh's
Shaatir, Subhash Ghai's Kaanchi, Karan Johar's Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya,
Vipul Amrutlal Shah's Holiday, the Rajnikant magnum opus Kochadaiyaan and Neeraj
Pandey's next with Akshay Kumar, Irshad has his bag full. And the prime catch is Sooraj
Barjatya's new film starring Salman Khan and Deepika Padukone, with music by Himesh Reshammiya.
We meet up at Irshad's simple apartment for a Q-&-A with the forthright writer. Excerpts from
our chat follow.
You have been raving about Sooraj Barjatya's new film with Himesh Reshammiya.
It is a lyricist's dream to work the way we are doing. We meet with the ideal of doing our best
for the story and the film, without thoughts about kya chal rahaa hai in the market!
There is no pressure that a song must be finalized at every sitting. It is an interactive
session between just three people - Sooraj-ji, Himesh-ji and I - where only our music is
discussed and ideas thrown up and worked upon without thinking of how much time has elapsed.
This is the way music would be created back in the golden ages of film music! There is no vision
other than doing the best for the film and ourselves!
Does not Salman Khan get involved?
Salman-sir trusts Sooraj-ji blindly. But he did tell Sooraj-ji that he has huge
expectations from Himesh and me as a combination! (Grins)
How does the majority work nowadays on the music?
By making us fit words at the eleventh hour to a tune that has a good potential of being a 'hit'
and to write words for a hook, which is not a substitute for a good song! (Smiles) There
are so many cases where I have quit a film midway, or after writing lyrics for just one song,
and I have not even taken credit for the track I wrote!
Having said that, I have been quite lucky to have got many other filmmakers who know the
importance of music and motivate and encourage the composer and me to do our best! Like Imtiaz
Ali, with whom I have worked from Socha Na Tha to Highway, or Subhash
(Ghai)-ji, who knew exactly what he wanted in Kaanchi. Working with Ali Abbas
Fazal in Mere Brother Ki Dulhan and Gunday, with the Tauranis and Rajkumar
Santoshi in Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani and Phata Postre Nikhla Hero, Farah Khan in
Happy New Year and Neeraj Pandey in Special 26 and now in his new film was also
enjoyable. There are other filmmakers too with whom I have great relations and who appreciate my
Among composers, I have worked most with Pritam, which is always a superb experience, but I have
a great equation with all composers, including the youngsters Sohail Sen, Sachin-Jigar and Amit
Trivedi. Among the seniors, M.M. Kreem is outstanding.
You also like to write a film solo.
Yes, that way I feel a sense of ownership and with that comes involvement in the story and
responsibility. This makes me explore the different ways a song situation can be approached
lyrics-wise. Farah-ji recently complimented my way of looking at a situation by speaking
highly about me to others. And this way, we can also see the variety of colours a writer can
offer, and his range.
Speaking of range, 'Tu Mere Agal Bagal Hai' from Phata Poster... and now songs
from Gunday like 'Toone Maari Entriyaan' and 'Assalam-E-Ishqum', you have
shocked those who mentally restricted your talent to serious writing.
(Laughs) But I love naughty songs! And a lyricist must be able to write all kinds of
songs. I have just written a song called 'Kambal Ke Neeche' for Kaanchi, which is
open to interpretation. I think that this is the way an erotic or naughty song should be written
- without double meanings and by keeping words within decent parameters.
I would rather quit a film - and have done so too! - Wherein I was asked to be blatant. It
disturbs me that filmmakers, composers and even stars like this kind of corruption in lyrics. I
do not do work that aims below the belt! We need to have restraint, a kind of self-check, and
some responsibility in those who choose the music and lyrics.
Majrooh Sultanpuri said that a lyricist's skill lay in saying everything
without saying anything.
Precisely, I agree completely.
But may we ask how Sufiana words have come into a Bengal-based film in Gunday? Isn't
that also pandering to trends?
No, there is a reason there: the heroes are fleeing from the law and take refuge in a Sufi
shrine. It is very important to give some thought to what kind of words and music fit a film.
Like in Highway, the film travels from Delhi to Rajasthan, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and
Kashmir and the songs change accordingly.
You have reportedly written the song Rajnikanth is singing in Kochadaiyaan. How was
the experience of working with him and in your first dubbed film?
The song is not about makeshift lyrics to fit into the metre. We had the advantage that this
film is essentially animation, and those who watch it will realize that the lip-synch obtained
is perfect even for the Hindi version of this trilingual. That and good poetry were important,
so my songs do not have the same meaning or flow as that of the lyrics in Tamil and Telugu.
Rajni-sir's song is more of a recitation actually.
And working with him was an unforgettable experience. We interacted during the recording and he
asked me about the nuances. Rajni-sir is so humble and simple despite being what he is! He is a
prime example of how to behave when you are a superstar - you would think that he was a common
What ails lyrics today? Or to put it another way, what should lyrics ideally be?
I think that a filmmaker should only give the canvas to a lyricist in terms of the story or
situation and should not employ him for executing his own thought in the lyricist's words!
Situation ko nibhana chahiye with good, big and new thoughts and an ascending and
progressive graph in the song's verses rather than taking the easy way out with hooks. Wherever
possible, some philosophy in simple words must come in, as well as new metaphors. At the same
time there must a bond between the director's take and writer's thoughts.
More Pages: Holiday - A Soldier Is Never Off Duty Box Office Collection , Holiday - A Soldier Is Never Off Duty Movie Review
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