Maya Govind (Poet, lyricist)
There is a dearth of Hindi film songs. Songs are still being written and hummed, but their life has become shorter. We have never seriously tried to understand why. But one thing I believe and understand is that everything changes with time. The way a thing is said and its meaning changes, too. Ma-pitaji become mom and pop, but respect for them remains the same. It is a permanent emotion. This permanent emotion has gone from songs today. “Munni badnam hui” and “Sheila ki jawani” may be on your lips for a while but they can’t rule your hearts. What does is the word, its emotions and what it stirs in you. Rhythm takes hold of you. If rhythm and words created a wholesome feeling, songs today would have been as famous as they were in the 1950s-60s. We still sign them because a lot of hard work went into them. Months would be spent on their riyaz and practice. Today it is just the opposite. Singers come into the studio, are handed over the lyrics, given an idea of the tune and music and asked to sing. They don’t even know the situation of the song or the story of the movie. That is why that particular feel to the song is lacking but they do their best according to their own instincts and are praised for the same.
I am a stage poet and a lyricist. Despite that I have written songs for over 400 movies. I am also writing songs for serials and private albums. I have been fortunate enough to have worked with Lakshmikant-Pyarelal, Kalyan ji Anand ji, Khayyam and other great composers and written songs for them. These people knew the power and importance of words and would create a rhythm according to the words. They would take time to see which words and expressions will go well with that instrument. Practice sessions would be held and the lyricist roped in, too.
It is sad that today words are lost and rhythm has taken precedence. The noise levels have increased and there is no peace in that. Tunes are made first and then the words fit into them. That is the reason why the synchronization between both isn’t good. What we call poetry simply tags along. Poems and songs obviously suffer and their creators have seen a decline in their importance. Only those matter who can rhyme well. It can also be called modernization and the argument can be given that they are moving with the times. But I feel why will anyone oppose technique. But it should be given its due, no more, no less. It would not be appropriate to keep the car in the bedroom instead of the garage now, would it? Nowadays, temples have tapes and CDs playing the bhajan aarti and the Pandit prays. There is no coming together of devotees. The machine has taken over and the rest is all formality.
The same has happened to folk songs. The have remained in the villages but the Munni and Sheila part of them have grown. Munni song is our own folk songs but it has been presented in a fake way on the screen and is noisy. There is also a conspiracy against folk songs. They are being Westernized and taken away from us. Folk songs are called rustic and uncouth but when they are made to wear a Western garb, everyone is all praises. The interesting aspect is that folk songs are turned into item songs. It has to be the power of folk that it turned out to be better than other songs despite the item song tag. But you can say that in Bhojpuri movies, folk is more or less the same. Folk songs speak the language of our pain, hurt, love, happiness and excitement. You can never take it away entirely, but one needs to be wary of the attacks it has been facing recently. Folk is our character and if someone calls it obscene or rustic, we should all oppose it. Folk songs have their own music and tunes but the thieves are taking them all away. But we are all silent. Shyam Benegal has directed a movie “Hari bhari”, in which I had written a song “Agley janam mohe bitiya he keejo”, which was composed by Vanraj Bhatia. The song was talked about a lot but the movie couldn’t be released. If the song had been released, you would’ve known the essence of it. But the same line had reached into every home through a serial. There are thousands of lines like this that the world is cashing in on. Sensitive filmmakers, composers and lyricists will have to make a move in the right direction.
And then good songs need good stories and there has to be a team effort. Not only will that mean better movies, but will also attract the youth of today.