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Decoding the process involved in the making of a Bollywood song

Wacky, weird and, at times, outrageous lyrics seem to be fast becoming the norm in Hindi films. We delve into the thought process that goes into penning them down...

Songs are considered the soul of most Bollywood formula films. After all, music is used as a bait to lure the audience into the theatres for any film, big or small. And most filmmakers do not mind spending a lion’s share of their finances to shoot a song.

Arshad Warsi in the Mata ka e-mail song from the just-released Guddu Rangeela
Arshad Warsi in the Mata ka e-mail song from the just-released Guddu Rangeela

With time, not only have the choreography and the look of songs changed, but also the lyrics. For the last few years, several tracks with offbeat lyrics seem to have found a footing in Bollywood. Take for instance, the Mata ka e-mail track from the recently released Guddu Rangeela, which has struck a chord with the listeners owing to its lyrics.

Saif Ali Khan with the background dancers in the Paaji tussi such a pussycat number from Happy Ending, which released earlier this year
Saif Ali Khan with the background dancers in the Paaji tussi such a pussycat number from Happy Ending, which released earlier this year

So what makes these songs so popular? “The way we speak today has changed to a large extent. Now we do not use a certain language in its purest form. Hence, the lyricists too write songs that are relatable for the listeners. Needless to say, the influence of the youth’s lingo visible in such songs makes them click,” says Amitabh Bhattacharya who has penned lyrics for Emotional atyachaar (Dev D), Paaji tussi such a pussycat (Happy Ending), Bhag bhag DK Bose (Delhi Belly) and Khoon choosle tu mera (Go Goa Gone) among others.

The Hip hip hurrah number from Mere Dad Ki Maruti (2013)
The Hip hip hurrah number from Mere Dad Ki Maruti (2013)

While writing such songs seem to be the need of the hour, it doesn’t come without its set of risks and challenges. More often than not, a section of people wouldn’t be ‘amused’ with the way these numbers turn out. “That’s the kind of risk every filmmaker and lyricist should be willing to take. There are all kinds of people in the world and each is entitled to their opinion. It’s like saying that my dad doesn’t like pasta and my friends wouldn’t want to go out and eat Indian cuisine. There is nothing you can do about it,” opines Luv Ranjan who wrote the Bann gaya kutta song for Pyaar Ka Punchnama.

A still of the Bann gaya kutta song from Pyaar Ka Punchnama (2011)
A still of the Bann gaya kutta song from Pyaar Ka Punchnama (2011)

Subhash Kapoor, who penned the lyrics for Mata ka e-mail, believes that it’s more challenging to deal with the consequences than the process of writing the songs itself. “After the song released, we got several calls saying that it hurt religious sentiments,” he says.

Luv Ranjan
Luv Ranjan

Lyricist Kumaar, who has written Jab hilegi meri hip karega hip hip hurrah from Mere Dad Ki Maruti, asserts that the audience does not accept each and every song with quirky lyrics. “No matter how vulgar or clean, there needs to be something about the song that attracts the audience towards it. I would say a song made with clear intentions works,” he says.

Bhaag bhaag DK Bose from Delhi Belly (2011)
Bhaag bhaag DK Bose from Delhi Belly (2011)

Talking of clear intentions, it wouldn’t be incorrect to say that the sole purpose of offbeat lyrics is to grab eyeballs.

“First, every quirky song in present-day films has a content to match. It is aimed at explaining a certain situation in the film. Second, with so many films releasing every week, everyone is constantly looking to break the ‘clutter’. Finally, when you make a medium-range film, you need an element which grabs the audience’s attention. There is nothing wrong with that,” says Kapoor.

A still of Emotional atyachaar from Dev D (2009)
A still of Emotional atyachaar from Dev D (2009)

Bhattacharya, on the other hand, feels that in addition to breaking the clutter, the money aspect of it cannot be ignored. “Songs in Bollywood are money churners and filmmakers understand that fact well. Hence, a lot of attention is given to penning songs which will go on to become chartbusters. Every filmmaker wants their songs to be downloaded or be played at house parties and on the radio,” he explains, adding that a lyricist writes a catchy song purely because the script demands it — and demand leads to supply.

Amitabh Bhattacharya
Amitabh Bhattacharya

However, it’s debatable whether songs with funny lyrics have a lasting impact on the audience or a recall factor like the ’70s and 80s tracks. “Treat these songs like a McDonald’s burger. You have one and feel satisfied,” says Kapoor.

As far as the lifespan of these songs is concerned, lyricists feel that with so many songs releasing every day, listeners don’t get enough time to stick to one song as opposed to the ’70s and ’80s when about 100 songs released a year and one album was on everyone’s minds. “Now about two-three films release every Friday with each consisting of a number of songs. How do you expect one song to stay on your mind for a long time? Having said that, I feel we have a habit of glorifying the past. Currently in 2015, we say that the songs written in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s were great. Give the present songs 20-30 years and people might be humming them then saying that these were entertaining. A lot of bad songs were written back then as well, but we only remember the good ones, right? So the same applies to the current situation as well,” concludes Ranjan.

5 latest tunes with funny lyrics
>> Maa ka phone aaya — Khoobsurat (2014)
>> Paaji tussi such a pussycat — Happy Ending (2015)
>> Happy hour mein — ABCD 2 (2015)
>> Mera pyaar hai Maggi jaisa — Thoda Lutf Thoda Ishq (upcoming film)
>> Babaji ka thullu — Dolly Ki Doli (2015)

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