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Words Are All I Have…

When lyrics compliment dialogue, music can cut to the very soul of a film

Salim saab had said that every hero, including the angry young man, arises out of a social need. In Dabangg, it is an empowered policeman who is the hero. There will always be a section of society that feels suppressed and experiences the need to bounce back.

For a long time, we stopped making films for the masses. This was due to the way our distribution channels developed. It was more beneficial to screen your films in multiplexes, where ticket prices are much higher, than worry about a small town, where prices are much lower.

This made filmmakers create sleek, urban heroes for people living in towns .As a result, they ignored a major section of the audience. The way the hero looked and spoke was alien to smaller towns and the semi-urban audience. This, in turn, gave rise to regional films like Bhojpuri cinema. But now, since I am also involved in the business of cinema, I can tell you that I hear most clients’ talk about going deep into India.

Music will always be part of our cinema but the reason we include songs in our films will change. India is a very poetic country. I was recently watching a Rajendra Kumar film, where the heroine was asking him questions and he was replying in verse. The consumption of poetry is high. Whereas in cinema of yesteryear, songs were used to convey what couldn’t be said through dialogue.

I believe poetry, today, is meant to express inner thoughts. That’s the only reason I write lyrics – to explore a thought. For example, Break Ke Baad’s Dooriyan hai zaroori is not about cynicism but it also says, I love you, however, I still need my space.

There will be fewer songs with lip syncing in the future because the job of poetry is to express inner sentiments. So, for example, nobody in the film is shown singing the Rang De Basanti number Ruba-roo, whereas, earlier, someone would have been mouthing the lines.

Now, the audience gets irritated if there’s a song for almost everything. But fun songs will always remain. I feel that if music is the glass, poetry is the wine. You take the glass to express the poetry. People ask me if songs will become more prose than poetry. Songs like Munni badnaam hui will still be made. The song says nothing, it doesn’t mean anything and no one is going to ask what it means.

Yes, the language of lyrics will change but that is where creative people like us come in. We need to know that new words will enter our vocabulary but, at the same time, we shouldn’t delete beautiful, old words. Someone told me that in Uttarkhand, from where I hail, there are25 ways to describe the sense of smell! There’s even a separate word to describe how something that’s been taken out of an old suitcase smells.

These are nuances of culture which have to be saved which is why I used Masti ki Paathshala… The word ‘paathshala’ is a very good word, and when I wrote it, people said it was archaic. I replied that the thought was contemporary – and the song connected with the audience.

If I want, I can write Zindagi ke sandesh likhoon or I can pen Zindagi ke BBM likhoon. I will decide depending on the song’s context. Imagine how it would sound if I had written Main batlata nahi par andhere se darta humain… mom! I’m not averse to using modern words. New words will arise but old words will survive. There will always be those who will resist and insist on using new and old, and there will be some who will fight to save our language.

Today, hordes of us speak in English but even while talking in English, we add a little Hindi or another language. Undoubtedly, English will creep in more and more in our mother tongues... but it was never

Prasoon Joshi, Lyricist

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