For someone who coined the term Ishaqzaade and wrote catchy songs including Falak Tak, Anjaani Anjaani, Pareshaan and others, Kausar Munir is admittedly quite ignorant of Urdu. Busy writing for big banners and making her presence felt in Bollywood where the screenplays are predominantly written in English and the dialogues in Hindi, the Bandra girl talks about her burgeoning career...
What’s the biggest challenge of being a female lyricist?
I never thought about this until people started asking me about it. Presently, things are really good in the industry and I’m pretty sure this wasn’t always the case. So maybe I started off on friendly turf and the people I’ve worked with have not only been supportive but also very enriching.
When did you bag your first big break?
It happened with Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin when Victor (Vijay Krishna Acharya) was the scriptwriter. He went on to make Tashan and asked me whether I’d be interested in writing a song. I said, why not? That’s how it started.
How did you come up with Ishaqzaade?
While I was writing one of the songs for the film, I was playing with nawabzaade, shahzaade, haraamzaade and suddenly, Ishaqzaade struck me. Director Habib Faisal liked it so much that he decided to name the film after it. Aditya Chopra himself said that he liked the title more than Tashan. That was a big high for me.
What’s the story behind Ek Tha Tiger?
I wasn’t originally part of the team. In fact, they called me after the film was shot and asked me to pen two promotional songs and that’s how Mashallah and Saiyaara came into existence.
Where did you learn Urdu from?
I didn’t. People keep asking me “Aap kaunse gaon se hai? Kya aap UP se hai?” and I love informing them that Hill Road in Bandra is my village. I also keep getting requests on the sets to teach Urdu but I can’t speak the language fluently, neither can I write it.
So how did you end up as a lyricist?
I’ve always been drawn towards words. As a kid, I used to maintain a book where I used to note down the lyrics of my favourite song. Now I believe I just have a keen sense of songs and scripts.
Who is your biggest influence?
Gulzar saab. Everybody knows water is wet but when he writes it, you feel it. And he’s funny. When I met him and told him that he inspires me, he said, “Mujhpar apne gunaaha mat daalo!”
Can we expect rebellious lyrics from you in the future?
If you’re asking me whether I’d do a DK Bose, then no. I won’t be able to sing it freely in front of friends and family. But if I had to pen such a song, I’d do it in a less ‘biological’ manner.
What has it been like working with different filmmakers?
All of them are different. Victor often says he doesn’t know what he wants but he knows exactly what he doesn’t want and my experience with him for Dhoom 3 reflects this philosophy. Habib guides you through the film, while Tigmanshu (Dhulia) is a man of few words and doesn’t like to colour your imagination. Gauri Shinde wanted me to be the language consultant for English-Vinglish, so I obliged.
Is balancing films with television difficult?
I am more active in Bollywood today, as I have narrowed down my choices, but I haven’t shunned television completely. I am a good multi-tasker and my 10-year-old daughter would second that!