Statutory Pleading: Any article on Hindi film music should always be read by playing along the video links embedded in them. Words look bland if there is nothing playing in the background.
May 2012, Hyderabad (Workplace).
The first drops of rainfall in the city have brought smiles on the faces of an otherwise easily irritable group of engineers bored to death in a claustrophobic IT office. People are tuning into their favorite songs for rainy season and for some strange reason the numero uno choice for me since the last 3 years has been “Boondon ke moti…” from Wake Up Sid (2009).
“Great song!” My colleague quips from behind as he watches me playing the video from YouTube. “Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy did a terrific job in the film.” “Well that’s true…” I reply poker faced. Suddenly the romance in the atmosphere seems to have vanished. “What the….!” I thought.
Well it’s true that Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy were the music composers of the film. But the background score and the biggest hit of the album - Iktara were someone else’s creation. In fact it must have been one of those rare occasions, where the composer did not pick up the tunes used for songs in the film & re-arrange it a little bit, to take the credit for background score. New set of lyrics were written, tracks composed and vocals rendered by fresh voices for them. And the following track has been sung by Salim Merchant of Salim-Suleimaan fame (another lesser known fact).
My mind raced backed to summer vacations of 2008…….
April 2008, Rourkela (Hometown).
A lazy summer afternoon at home, when you have to take the all-important decision of choosing between an afternoon siesta and orkuting. But you are too lazy to move your ass and just continue being a couch potato, surfing between various music channels.
You are stuck at a familiar face. It’s Rajeev Khandelwal. The film name reads Aamir (2008). Now you really hate the Balaji Telefilms Soap Operas and everything related to them, so without giving a second thought you are about to change the channel. But then something hooks you on.
Sone chamak mein, Sikko khanak mein,
Milta nahi, Milta nahi,
Dhool ke zarro mein dhunde koi toh,
Milta wahi, Milta wahi.
” Wow ! ” I could feel my jaw drop. “What a way to describe the Almighty.” Such earnestness in writing. Never before had any non Gulzar-Rahman Sufi Qawaali struck such a chord with me.
Gradually, the other songs of the film, Chakkar Ghumyo and Phans Gaya, were released and found equal appreciation. The industry had just woken up to something out-of-the-box in the musical combo of Amit Trivedi, the music director & Amitabh Bhattacharya, the lyricist. “I wanted to hear more from them“, I thought. Thankfully, I did not have to wait for long.
December 2008, Warangal (College).
Its 3 am in the night. The entire hostel is quite. Students are giving vent to their frustrations by catching up with a movie (Eastman color, black & white, blue…) on their laptop or playing counter strike, where each virtual enemy is named after a prof. But from one corner, I can still hear the music playing out loud. I know the source of noise. It is a particular group of boys, always intoxicated with alcohol and weed. There is one thing new though. For a change, they are not playing Led Zepp or Pink Floyd. It is a Bollywood song !
Ho gai dil ke paar tragedy…tragedy,
Lut gai re bahaar, gul sukh sukh murjhae,
Bol bol why did you ditch me,
Zindagi bhi lele yaar kill me,
Bol bol why did you ditch me whore.
The rage of the youth in this country found an outlet in the songs of Dev D (2009). Kashyap always had had a cult following because of Paanch (2003) & Black Friday (2004) being banned and becoming underground hits. But by making Dev D a musical, he stormed into the consciousness of the mainstream. It was not a formula he had adapted to break ice with the masses. When I read the screenplay of the film, I realized that the writers had left intentional gaps in the script to be filled up by songs. Here’s my favorite from the album.
Never before had the character of a commercial sex worker been written so progressively and never before her innermost emotions conveyed with such clarity.
In 2008, playback singer Shilpa Rao introduced Amit Trivedi to Anurag Kashyap who was looking for a new composer for his film Dev D which was supposed to have as many as 18 different tracks of different genres – Punjabi folk, rock, alternate rock, break-beat-meets-rock, Broadway, lounge fusion. An erstwhile member of Om-The Fusion Band, Trivedi had survived in the industry for a decade doing menial compositions and ad-jingles. He brought in friend and aspiring singer Amitabh Bhattacharya into the project to write the lyrics. A reluctant Amitabh agreed after great persuasion. Although he had been writing for Amit since 2004, Amitabh was apprehensive of the response his work was going to get and decided to drop his surname from the credits, just in order to hide his identity.
The project got delayed and another film Aamir from the same production house (UTV Spotboy) marked their debut in the industry. What these two films did to them, is of course history.
Both the Amits had not realized then was that within 3 years of their debut in the industry they would be winning a National Award each.
So what sets them apart? Is it bringing back poetry in an era where anything crass is passed on to the consumers in the name of Hindi Film Lyrics? Is it experimenting with hitherto unknown voices like Tochi Raina, Labh Janjua, Bonnie Chakraborty and at times Trivedi & Bhattacharya themselves? Or is it just fearlessly mixing various genres to come up with a new sound that finds an emotional connect with the audience? As you listen to this song from Dev D (which won Trivedi his National Award) you will realize that it’s little bit of all the three. Sung by Trivedi himself, there is an unfinished rawness about it.
” My directors get used to the scratch I record in my voice during shooting and insist that it becomes the final track” said Trivedi in an interview. Well we are not complaining!
While his directors have forced Trivedi to become a singer, his partner-in-rhyme, Amitabh at times looks back and wonders about his original dream. ” Nowadays I do so much writing, I don’t have the time to practice my singing ” he lamented in an interview. But when you look at his track record in the recent past, you actually would not want him to leave writing.
Ainvayi Ainvayi Lut Gaya, Tarkeebein – Band Baaja Baaraat (2010)
Dilli Dilli, Aali Re, Aitbaar, Dua – No One Killed Jessica (2011)
Bhaag DK Bose, Tere Siva, I Hate You Like I Love You – Delhi Belly (2011)
Chikni Chameli, Abhi Mujh Main Kahin – Agneepath (2012)
Ek main Aur Ekk tu, Auntyji, Kar Chalna Shuru Tu – Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu (2012)
Pyaar Ki Pungi , Kuch To Hai Tujhse Raabta – Agent Vinod (2012)
It was but poetic justice that despite of much commercial acclaim in all these films as a lyricist, he won his National Award for a lesser known song that was composed by the man who forced him to write in first place. Here is that song from the movie I Am (2011). The words resonate with what these two wonder kids have achieved in such a short span in an otherwise brutally unforgiving industry.
Agar zindagi ho khud mein kahin
Phir kiyun rahe kisi ki kami
Bojh ban ke rahe kyun subah kisi raat pe
Aa badal daalain rasmein sabhi isi baat pe
Though Trivedi has achieved considerable success with other lyricists as well (Aisha, Ishaqzaade), it is his collaboration with Bhattacharya which is always looked forward to. The team has a bouquet of hits to their credit ( Aamir, DevD, No One Killed Jessicca, Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu) and will have more in the future but one film which they themselves can’t out do will definitely be Vikramaditya Motwane’s directorial debut - Udaan (2010).
Subah ki kirno ko rokein jo salaakhein hai kahan
Jo khayalon pe pehre daale woh aankhein hai kahan
Par khulne ki deri hai parinde udh ke choomenge
Aasman aasman aasman
It sometimes really amuses me how certain works don’t get the acclaim, they rightly deserve, when it comes to awards in this country.Winner of the Best Musical Score at the 40th Giffoni Film Festival, Udaan has been in public memory for over two years now, but the romance with its songs somehow refuses to die down.
When I feel triumphant, I listen to them. When I need hope, I listen to them. When I want to trigger the creative flow within, I listen to them. And not for once, all this while, have I grown tired of them.
Here is my favorite from the album. Sort of sums up the philosophy of the movie for us.
As we bring to end this really long post, I want to share the making of the song Geet from the same album. It’s really heartfelt to watch these two creative geniuses crooning their own composition and one can’t help ignore the scribblings on the walls of that small studio. The making of a history!
Thank you Amit & Amitabh. You really don’t know the impact your work creates in the lives of people you might have never met. If there will ever be a successor to Gulzaar-Rehman it will be both of you. All eyes…. oops ears on Motwane’s next venture Lootera now, where the duo team up again.