By Siddharth-Garima
(Siddharth-Garima are well-known and successful writers and lyricists in the Hindi film industry with such films to their credit as Ram-Leela, Bajirao Mastani and Toilet – Ek Prem Katha)

One needs to be a rebel to be able to create something original. The true-blue born poet, the natural organic lyricist was a rebel. And in the modern world, the ‘rebel’ has been slaughtered.

Actually, it’s difficult to quote the exact year when it all began. When music labels, producers, directors, and other decision makers started taking an easy way out, by rehashing, remixing, re-releasing something that was already successful, something that had already ‘clicked’ with the audience. They thought, it would resonate again if it had the echo back then. So, why not have faith in the ‘creator’ that he/she could create something that would resonate the same way.

Faith is a strong word. It needs conviction. And having been a lyricist in the industry for the last seven-odd years, we have been made to feel that conviction means being “idealistic”. It means, you are too “pure”. ‘Pure’ hona gaali lagta hai.

It’s been a while since we have been putting up a fight for ‘original’ music/lyric. Sometimes, even at the cost of losing out on films/deals and being threatened of not ‘promoting’ our songs. The need and the ask for a ‘re-created hit’ song has become so vital that a brilliant idea may now just be rejected on a table, because it sounds ‘too new’ or ‘too original’ for its own good! Sometimes, even singers have no choice but to succumb to these pressures. People who become famous for doing original work also get manipulated into it.

With all the pressure from the music companies, and in a bid to become the ‘hit machines’, composers at their end have increasingly started ‘rejecting’ and ‘injecting’ lyrics into the lyricists’ work. They offer us a ‘hook’ line/’hook’ word more often than not.

Blouse hai kya, bhai?

‘Hook’ is a technical word for a line or a word that keeps the listener ‘hanging’ and, in the case of songs, it makes it easier to ‘repeat’ and learn the lyric. And these days, the ‘hook’ is not what holds it all together, it’s rather floating in mid-air with nothing to support it, meaningless and inane. This hook exists no longer in the poet’s/lyricist’s thought, it can come from a producer, or even a composer! Bhai, jiska kaam usi ko saaje! But no. That’s no longer true. The ‘novel’ and ‘brilliant’ hook can come from whoever. And that’s not a chance — it’s a norm. This person magically knows, that it is “going to work”… he knows it better than the creator of the song.

Recently, there was a film in which all the five songs used were remixes. Now, that’s the real ‘un’becoming of a lyricist.

But why is this so rampant? Apart from the ‘limited’ vision of Mr. Moneybags, if you analyse a remixed song, it does credit the original artistes involved in the creation but it attributes a major credit to the ‘re-creator’ (it’s an abuse of the word ‘creator’ to call them that, so we’ll just say ‘re-hashers’).

So, these re-hashers get themselves credited in order to stake claim in the royalty of the creators. Now that’s a real reason.

We have been writing songs as we please and have quietly watched the scenario unfold in the last few years. Since we refused to write ‘remixes’ or churn out random hooks, fewer albums need us, fewer producers call us. Every lyric contract now comes laden with clauses that speak threateningly of replacing us, changing everything or not using our work.

And this is after we said — Laal ishq hota hai, Holi latthmaar hoti hai, Mastaani deewani thi, Ishq ka lahu munh lag gaya, Poore chaand ki aadhi raat hoti hai, Nainon ki madhushala chhalakti hai, Ishq se bada bakheda koi nahi, Aadha bhi zyada hai, Dil patanga hai, Seene se sar lagaane se naam sunai deta hai, Tann mitti hai mann maaya.

There are times when we feel that chhod ke saari aag, bairaag utha lein.

But we, as artistes, have taken a firmer stand and a far too difficult route — to keep the lyrics of our films pure, unadulterated and in synch with our screenplay. Lyrics/songs are the bridge that bind the screenplay. So, it’s important to say with songs what you can’t through dialogue. Our attempt is to find that situational connect with every heart. Because we believe that films are about us, common people and what we feel. Jo gaana situation pe aata hai, aur original hota hai, woh har kisi se connect karta hai.

That’s what makes for a song/lyric to resonate with the audience, like Kuch toh log kahenge, Ye duniya agar mil bhi jaaye toh kya hai …but if you toss this to the re-hashers, they’d say, “Ye baatein, jhoothi baatein hain”…, “Oh, that’s another remix idea.”

There’s some great original stuff happening out there… So, let’s not lose hope. This is to every fellow creator who believes in the original.

Kalam thaam nahi sakta koi
Tu saath nahi toh koi aur chalega

Aaj tera zamaana hai toh kya
Kal se mera daur chalega.