Manoj Muntashir, who has penned the lyrics of Kesari’s Teri mitti and Notebook’s Main taare, talks to Padma Iyer about the inspiration behind these songs, working with different composers and his take on recreations
Lyrics are the soul of any song and when they fail to click, they could sink the number. Manoj Muntashir, who has written songs in varied genres, is in high spirits as his latest songs, Teri mitti in the recently released Akshay Kumar starrer Kesari, and Main taare in the upcoming film Notebook, have struck just the right chord among listeners. He is especially thrilled with the result as the songs are as different as chalk and cheese, and having them both connect with listeners is a special achievement.
Asked what the inspiration behind these diverse songs was, he says, “The songs are very different from each other, but the inspiration for both of them is the same. It is love. Teri mitti is driven by the love for the motherland and Main taare is driven by the love of the beloved.”
Muntashir considers himself fortunate to have worked with many composers, each with their own style and USP. He has worked with veterans like Bappi Lahiri, Rajesh Roshan and Anu Malik and young guns like Amaal Malik, Rochak Kohli and Arko. He says, “All of them have their unique style but that’s what inspires me. Sometimes, I go with their flow, and many times, I insist on driving the song. Also, the friendship with most of them has a big role to play in making music which is organic and collaborative.”
Arko has composed Teri mitti and the two have worked on a couple of songs before. Muntashir remarks, “With Arko, I have delivered super hits like Tere sang yaara from Rustom and Saathi rey from Kapoor & Sons. So, Teri mitti was another chance for both of us to capitalise on our creative bonding.
His relationship with Vishal Mishra is equally strong and he is happy to have finally worked with him. “Vishal is like my younger brother whose talent is enormous and I was looking for a good opportunity to collaborate with him. He had actually heard the opening lines of Main taare about two years ago. It was an instant connect and he composed it. Later, when director Nitin Kakkar approached him for Notebook, he played them the song and they loved it,” he says about how the song became a part of the film.
Muntashir is full of praise for both composers, who he says have inspired him equally. “While making music, I draw inspiration from Arko’s experience, and energy from Vishal’s enthusiasm. Both are very different kinds of musicians but the common ground is an uninhibited passion for making great songs,” he says.
Every lyricist has a process. Some prefer the tune to be composed later while others are comfortable writing onto a tune. Muntashir says he is comfortable with both approaches. He explains, “Galliyan and Phir bhi tumko chahoonga were written first and then put to tune, whereas Tere sang yaara, Mere rashke qamar and Teri mitti were composed first and then written. It depends solely on the moment and the situation. Sometimes, I come up with a thought first, so composers base the tune on my words, and very often composers have a tune ready which I give due respect to.”
A recent trend that has caught the fancy of the music world is recreating yesteryear hits. Usually, the hook line and tune is kept intact while the rest of the song is given a fresh look. Muntashir has been part of recreated songs like Mere rashke-qamar and his view on the same is very clear. He does not consider it as bad as it is made out to be. “Last year, I received an IIFA award for Mere rashke-qamar and I shared the award with the original creator Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan saab. I was happy that he was being recognized so many years after his departure, and I was only an instrument in making that happen. Also, songs like Mere rashke-qamar, Dekhte dekhte and Sanu ek pal feature in the playlist of the young generation only because they have been recreated. As long as we recreate songs responsibly, we must applaud recreations. At the same time, original music should not be put in cold storage. There is no greater joy than making original songs.”