Lyricist Manoj Muntashir tells Sayali Parab about his collaboration with Himesh Reshammiya on the album Aap Se Mausiiquii, and upcoming projects
How did you bag the entire album of Aap Se Mausiiquii?
T-Series head honcho Bhushan Kumar introduced me to Himesh Reshammiya for one of his songs. Once I started meeting Himeshjitime and again, both of us realised we were in great sync to create music. We would meet for a cup of coffee and, suddenly, a wonderful song would shape up. The album was entirely Himesh’s idea. He wanted to make independent music in a very literal sense. To him, ‘independence’ means creating pure music, without interference from film parameters, like stars or a situation. Bhushan Kumar completely supported us in this mission by guiding us and giving us a free hand. We started churning out soul-stirring songs, one after the other. In fact, we created more than 20 superb songs. But the most difficult job was choosing 10 out of them.
You have creatively amalgamated all the romantic songs in a very unique way. How did you go about that?
As a film lyricist, we are always restricted by characters and situations. So I have always craved an opportunity wherein I can play my own shots with absolute freedom. This album was like having that wish granted. I could fly as much as I wanted with my romantic expression in the songs. I think it was tough to find a situation in a film wherein I could write. “Socha tha dhal gaye mausam wo seele-seele… chhoo ke jo dekhi palkein, haath hue geele.” I specially recommend our Soni song. The lyrics go, “Soni tera zikraan, Soni teri fikraan, gal koyi aur menu aati nahin… Ankhiyaan de chinab se… dil de Punjaab se, soni meri soni tu jaati nahin” Himesh inspired me to come up with lyrics like these.
Every night and day is a tad Westernised. How did you work on the lyrics of that song?
In this genre, lyrics must complement the music, not the other way round. As a team, Himesh and I understand which songs need to be lyrically strong and when music needs to be in the driver’s seat. Every night and day is one of the most-loved songs from the album. I am grateful to Himesh and Iulia Vantur for lending their magic to the song.
Words like ‘mausiiquii’ are not familiar to today’s youth, yet you have penned them beautifully. What inspired you to write lyrics like this?
Himesh is known for his understanding of words. He was looking for a title which could act as a theme for the entire album. We didn’t want run-of-the-mill phrases and were willing to take a risk with lesser-known ones. That’s how we stumbled upon ‘mausiiquii’. It had the phonetics, depth and meaning we were looking for. Also, after Himesh’s first super hit album, Aapka Suroor, Aap Se Mausiiquii seemed to be the right phrase to carry forward.
Do you write the lyrics first or do they flow after the music is composed?
That depends on the nature of the song we are creating. For example, if it’s an upbeat number with club beats, like Tonight or Every night and day, we prefer to compose first, whereas more soulful songs like Menu kehn de were first written then put to tune.
What was your vision behind composing for the album?
The vision was very clear – make songs that you can be proud of. Use the freedom that an album carries with it, to deliver soul-stirring music. Also, independent music has lost its value in India. We only recognise and patronise film music. This is a very restless situation for all singers, composers and lyricists. We have been deprived of our own voice, we are expected to echo only what filmmakers demand. Independent albums dare to break these rules, so we chose this album to showcase our best side.
What was working with Himesh like?
Working with Himesh was like playing around with nuclear power. He is nothing less than a nuclear reactor. You have to be really fast to match his speed because once he takes off, he is unstoppable. It made me wonder how someone who has achieved the pinnacle of success and prosperity can still have the passion of a newcomer. But that’s what he has taught me… to stay restless, because great success comes from relentless works.
Kaabil is releasing next month followed by Noor, Naam Shabana, Half Girlfriend, Badshaho and Bahubali. As you can see, there is a lot to look forward to. The year 2016 has been a dream run for me with solo super hits like Rustom and M S Dhoni: The Untold Story, and 2017 looks even more promising.