Currently in Bollywood after Gulzar Saab if there is any lyricist who knows his craft well and can effortlessly weaves magic with his words then it is one and only Irshad Kamil. He is the man who wrote beautiful songs for films like JAB WE MET, LOVE AAJ KAL, SULTAN, AASHIQUI 2, COCKTAIL, ROCKSTAR, among several others and undoubtedly the songs of these albums are something which will be played for the years to come.
Irshad who gave us some unforgettable and soulfully melodious songs in the recent past is back post a small sabbatical. In an exclusive conversation the celebrated lyricist reveals from where he draws inspiration to write the soulful songs he is known for.
He also speaks about how it is the character of a given film who writes the song while he is just a medium. Kamil opened up about his belief of becoming a director and how photography and football keep him charged.
Here are the excerpts:
Your song 'Buri Buri’ from DEAR MAYA was a very ‘new generation’ peppy kind of song peppered with few English words, which is something you are not known for. So tell us how did you come up with it?
Every film has its own requirement; every character has its own requirement. Earlier also I have used English words in my songs and I used it again in the mentioned song as well because the characters featuring in this song are school girls who are teenagers and since they study in boarding schools who have this strict mandate of ‘speak only in English’ so that’s why I used English words to make it more realistic.
What was the brief given to you when you were asked to pen this song?
Actually I have worked previously with Sunaina when she was Imtiaz’s assistant. We have worked together in JAB WE MET, LOVE AAJ KAL and ROCKSTAR. So when you have worked with a team and if one of the members from the team decides to be a director then you should always support that person. I know Sunaina since last 10 years so when she asked me to write songs for her film DEAR MAYA I readily agreed. Sunaina narrated the script to me and the story of the film became my brief.
You used to write script and dialogues earlier. Why have you stopped it now?
Yes in my initial days I had written script and dialogues for Television and talking about if I will write for this medium again then yes definitely I will, as I want to write good scripts and evolve eventually.
Do you wish to become a director someday?
I don’t ‘wish’ to become a director as I have full ‘faith’ that I will definitely direct someday. I have already started writing the script and whenever I will be ready with my script I will make it.
So will writing lyrics take a backseat?
My first love is lyrics writing and honestly speaking lyrics writing is not work for me it is something I can’t live without. This writing is a very vital part of my existence. Meri Wajood Issi Se Hai
What are your views on the new age songs which are utterly meaningless and sometimes even demeaning?
Firstly I don’t hear such songs and secondly everyone has their own taste so what kind of song they prefer to listen is their personal choice.
From the current lot of lyricists who do you think has the spark to become next Gulzar saab or Irshad Kamil?
I don’t know Mujhe lagta hai saare hi ache log hain. Writing jo hai woh time ki channi se jab usko chanenge na toh unme se jo log bachenge woh sahi log honge aisa mujhe lagta hai. Because writing is not something which you can learn in short span. When we listen to old songs it’s not like we listen to all of them, there are hardly like 100-150 old songs which are still popular. Likewise in the coming 25 years whichever few selected songs will be left; the lyricists of those songs will be the deserving one.
What’s your opinion on rehashing old classic songs?
Personally, I don’t find any kind of creativity in this trend. It’s like commercially trying to befool the listeners.
But then you have written lyrics of ‘Raabta’ song which is a recreated version of a song originally written by Amitabh Bhattacharya.
There is only one line ‘Kuch toh hai tujhse Raabta’ which was written by Amitabh Bhattacharya apart from that line the entire song has been reworked even the composition of that song has been re-created by Pritam dada. So we have only taken the hook line from the original and rest everything has been reworked.
Do people approach you for writing item songs?
If I sign deal with someone for an entire film and if that film requires an item number then I will write one. I have written ‘Tune Maari Entriyaan’ for GUNDAY. And yes while I may write an item song but I will never write a vulgar or a demeaning one. In earlier films all the club songs or the cabaret songs those were also in a way an item song but still they were so melodious and meaningful which is something so hard to find these days.
You share a great equation with Imtiaz Ali. So tell us how is he as a friend and as a filmmaker?
As a friend he is good and as a director he is too good. As we have worked so much together there is a comfort zone between us. We discuss any kind of situation very openly among ourselves. Imtiaz rediscovers himself daily with his films, his writings, his scripts so even I keep rediscovering myself along with him.
Which other filmmakers you look forward to work with?
I would love to work with everyone. I desire to write songs for Sanjay Leela Bhansali because I love the beauty with which he picturises his songs even Aditya Chopra’s style of picturising a song is very impressive. So the people who understand the value of a song and present it beautifully I would love to work with them.
Your songs are very soulful and romantic, from where do you derive the inspiration to write them?
Inspiration mujhe toh woh character hi deta hai. Uss character ke rang me main khud dhal jata hoon. Agar aap character ke rang me nahi dhaloge toh Irshad Kamil gaana likhega magar Irshad Kamil ko gaana nahi likhna hai. I am just a medium of writing the song but in reality it’s the character who is writing the song.
In 2016 there were hardly few films featuring your songs. So was this a deliberate choice on your part to take up few projects?
Yes in 2016 apart from SULTAN I hardly took up any projects because I was busy with some of my personal work. Actually after a point of time you need a sabbatical to recharge yourself. You have to empty your mental hard disk and then you are back with a refreshed mind to work again.
From your so many beautiful songs which one is your personal favorite?
I like all of them for example the song ‘Saat Rangoon Se’ from DEAR MAYA there is a line in it which goes like, ‘Aaj maine zindagi ko keh diya hai haan’ I love this line very much as mostly we never say yes to things for ourselves in life we keep on living for others. We should care for others but we should live for ourselves.
One actor who has emoted your words most beautifully
I think all actors have emoted my words nicely for example the songs which were there in ROCKSTAR were emoted beautifully by Ranbir or the songs of SULTAN were emoted very nicely by Salman Khan or even Shahid did a great job in JAB WE MET. All of them were good.
Have you ever heard your song post its release and felt that you could have done better?
This happens very often and it happens because when you are writing at that time you feel that whatever you have written is perfect and correct but once it’s get released and after sometime you feel Arre yaar yahan shayad aur kuch hota toh better hota, shayad maine iss line ke sath thodi jald baazi kardi. So this happens very often I can say with 90% of my songs I feel this way.
How fast can you come up with a song?
Gaane likhne se jyada badi baat yeh hai ki gaane me likhna kya hai? So it takes more time to think and decide about what actually you have to write in a song and once that’s decided then it doesn’t take much time. Sometimes it happens that you have to give a song in two days so anyhow you have to deliver and there are also times when you get plenty of time to write a song. So it all depends on that.
''I am just the medium it's the film's characters who writes the song''
Tell us about your upcoming projects
Two of my films DEAR MAYA and SACHIN: A BILLION DREAMS released recently. After that Imtiaz’s film starring Shah Rukh and Anushka is there then Salman’s TIGER ZINDA HAI is there. Perhaps in between these films few more films might come up.
How was the experience of writing a song for Master Blaster Sachin’s biopic?
It was the first time that I was working as fan boy on a given project as I am a huge fan of Sachin.
If not a lyricist what would you have been?
I would have been a journalist. See even as a lyricist I have always tried to be different from the crowd and I write what I honestly want to say so if I would have been a journalist even then I would have tried to work with same honesty.
Apart from writing what are other things that interests you?
There are plenty of things like I love photography and theatre. I really love plays. I like playing football as well.
Any messages for your fans?
I would just like to say that friends if you like my songs then recommend it to your friends and keep showering your love on my songs.