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'Kajra re' not devoid of poetry: Gulzar

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Posted: 21 March 2006 at 9:19am | IP Logged

Well-known lyricist Gulzar says his award wining song "Kajra re" from "Bunty Aur Babli" is not devoid of poetry.

"I don't think the words 'Teri baaton mein kimaam ki khushboo hai, tera aana bhi to garmiyon ki loo hai' are frivolous. Poetry with a serious thought doesn't mean it has to be serious in mood," Gulzar told us in an interview.

He is now writing songs for editor Shirish Kunder's directorial debut "Jaan-E-Man" and wants to learn the language of mainstream cinema.

"I don't know how successful I will be, but I want to learn this mainstream language of cinema. I want to walk with Shirish to learn a new way of expressing myself."

Excerpts from the Interview:

You seem to be on a quest for new peaks to conquer.

Recently I returned from Chennai after a music sitting with Mani Ratnam and A.R. Rahman. We are working together again after "Dil Se" for Mani's "Guru". Again we'll try to attempt a different sound.

"Guru" has a serious layer below the surface, which I'll tap as a poet. Mani Ratnam is the only director who asks for abstract images. It's lovely to share my poetry with him. His Hindi is getting better. But I'm lagging behind. My Tamil should improve soon.

As a lyricist, I'd say my first turning point as an abstract lyricist was "Humne dekhi hai un aankhon ki mehekti khushboo" in "Khamoshi". Another turning point was Mani Ratnam's "Dil Se" where with "Chaiyyan chaiyyan" my sufiyana phase started. Now let's see...perhaps with "Guru" there will be another turning point. It's wonderful to work with a director who expresses scenes musically.

"Guru" will star a big fan of yours, Vidya Balan?

She is a simple, sweet, innocent girl. She says whatever comes to her heart.

How was it working with Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy in "Bunty Aur Babli"?

You know I have just written a song for the Commonwealth Games, which they have composed. I feel they have achieved a sensible synthesis of popularity and class in their music. This is the fourth time I have written a sports anthem.

Many years ago I had written a song for a sports event that Anand Shankar had composed. Then for national sports in Pune, I wrote a song that Hridaynath Mangeshkar had composed and Lata-ji had sung. Then I had collaborated with L. Subramaniam for a song celebrating the Olympian flame.

Now, this fourth one with Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, which goes "Dilli chalen chalna hai chal chal dilli chalen". It could be used by any political party.

Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy's "Kajra re" has become very popular.

Just because it is popular it doesn't mean it's devoid of poetry. I don't think the words "Teri baaton mein kimaam ki khushboo hai, tera aana bhi to garmiyon ki loo hai", is frivolous. Poetry with a serious thought doesn't mean it has to be serious in mood.

My "Goli maar bheje mein" in "Satya" had a serious thought expressed in the gangster's language. The lyrics have to express the language of the characters.

You were nominated for three of your lyrics at this year's Filmfare awards.

That's quite something. People are wondering why I have suddenly become so prolific. Among the three nominated songs I think, "Dheere jalna" from "Paheli" is wonderfully composed by M.M. Kreem.

"Chup chup ke" from "Bunty Aur Babli" has the beauty of poetry along with a beautiful composition. And of course "Kajra re" sweeps the carpet from under our feet. It's tough to say which of these I like best. As tough as answering which is my favourite film?

All three have a touch of eroticism to them.

I think I got the chance to go beyond physical love in "Chup chup ke". Love transcends physicality. You have to open those layers that occur beyond the physical. I think I got to do some very unusual poetry in "Bunty Aur Babli". I used English words as though they were Hindi.

The narrative and the musical patterns have changed. The words too have to change. You can't keep using the same words. I think it's time for me to get experimental with my lyrics. I have tried to do that in "Bunty Aur Babli".

In "Paheli" you worked for the first time with M.M. Kreem.

He's very good. He should have been nominated for his music in "Paheli". Even a nomination is a gesture of victory. He hasn't been given enough to do in Hindi cinema, though he's very popular in the south.

I liked the idea of getting the Screen Award for "Dheere jalna" instead of "Kajra re". I thought the more popular song always wins. Unfortunately, I was unwell and I couldn't attend the function. I regret that.

"Dheere jalna" is a very difficult situation. I had to bring in the image of a burning candle to express the couple's anguish of having just limited time together. For this image I had to go back to the master, Mirza Ghalib, who said, "Shama har rang mein jalti hai sehar hone tak".

Tell me more about your forthcoming work.

I am very excited about working with Pritam Chakraborty in my daughter Meghna's "Honeymoon" and with Vishal Bhardwaj again in "Othello". This again gives me a chance to do a very different kind of music. It's our third under-world story (after "Satya" and "Maqbool"). This time the location is around Meerut in Uttar Pradesh.

I've used the dialect in my lyrics. "Maqbool" never looked like "Macbeth" to me. I feel Vishal's "Othello" would be unrecognisable to Shakespeare. To me, it's an original underworld story. You will be shocked by the images.

It's very strange to see you working with Sajid Nadiadwala in "Jaan-E-Man".

For me too. I don't know how successful I will be, but I want to learn this mainstream language of cinema. The images here are totally different from what I generally write. In real life, the director, Shirish Kunder, is a combination of an editor and director. The same is true of his vision in "Jaan-E-Man". The shots will surprise you. For a reaction shot, directors generally go for a close-up. He only changes the light. I want to walk with Shirish to learn a new way of expressing myself.

  Your directors are getting younger.

Yes, after Shaad Ali in "Saathiya" and "Bunty Aur Babli" it's Shirish. Shaad and I are going to work in his next again. He comes from a family of painting and poetry. Shaad understands poetry. You can see that in "Bunty Aur Babli".

Shaad knew the whole script in his head. He knew every gesture of the characters. I'd give him the credit for the lyrics in "Bunty Aur Babli". He knew his characters inside out. He briefed me well. I want to work with people who know what they want from me.



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