Lyricist AM Turaz reveals the toughest song he wrote for Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Heeramandi | World Music Day exclusive

21 June,2024 06:30 AM IST |  Mumbai  |  Bohni Bandyopadhyay

Poet and lyricist AM Turaz looks back upon his 12-year association with Sanjay Leela Bhansali, from Guzaarish to Heeramandi

(Left) A still from the song Azadi; (right) poet-lyricist AM Turaz

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Key Highlights

Lyricist AM Turaz has a 12-year association with Sanjay Leela Bhansali, which began with the film Guzaarish. He has worked with him on every project since then, except for Goliyon ki Rasleela Ram-Leela. He has written 8 songs for Heeramandi, which have become quite popular. Ahead of World Music Day 2024, Turaz talks about the process of working with Bhansali, the toughest song in Heeramandi, and the declining quality of Hindi film songs.

The most challenging song in Heeramandi

Turaz has written the popular songs ‘Chaudhvi Shab', ‘Masoom Dil Hai Mera' and ‘Tilasmi Baahein', among others, for Heeramandi. But the biggest challenge for him was the last song in the series - ‘Humein Dekhni Hai Azadi'.

"Azadi was a challenge for me, because there have been many songs on this. Plus Faiz Ahmed Faiz has a popular nazm (Hum Dekhenge), we had to make our song sound different from that. It was interesting working on this song particularly, because we quite easily forget that women were an integral part of our freedom struggle. People sing praises of the male freedom fighters. Women too made significant sacrifices so that the men could fight. I got the opportunity to bring their pain to the fore with this song. I feel very proud of that song," he shares.

Shooting the song was also a surreal experience. "When I was standing in the crowd on the set when the song was being shot, I got goosebumps. We haven't seen the struggle of women during the fight for freedom being highlighted in any film so far. It took me many attempts to write the song the way I wanted to," he says.

How did the Bhansali association begin?

I had met him during Saawariya, but we couldn't work during that time. Then he called me for Guzaarish. I have been working with him since then. I couldn't work with him during Ram-Leela, probably because I was busy with other things. I am also a poet, I present my work at events around the world. Then he called me for Bajirao Mastani, I wrote some of Deepika's dialogues also in that film.

Not just Urdu

It is not just Urdu songs and poetry that Turaz contributes to. "One of my most popular Hindi film songs is Kabhi Jo Badal Barse. I also wrote a song for the film Chakravyuh. It's just that Mr Bhansali has been composing certain kind of songs lately, so I have been tagged mostly as an Urdu lyricist. Also, I am a poet first, and then a lyricist. Urdu is a mix of multiple languages, and that is used in our films too," he elaborates.

Filmmakers reject poetry

"Since I am also a poet, I try to keep my thoughts profound while writing for songs," Turaz says. Does he find more filmmakers like Bhansali who encourage quality writing? "Lyricists are not completely responsible for low-quality songs. I will blame the film's makers also. They do not understand poetry so they reject it saying this doesn't fit into our film."

"Three people got national awards for songs I wrote. Sanjay Leela Bhansali won best Music Director, Arijit Singh won Best Playback Singer (Male) for the song ‘Binte Dil', Kruti Mahesh won Best Choreography for ‘Ghoomar'. These songs wouldn't have worked if the audience didn't like them. Filmmakers say today's generation isn't interested in poetry. That's not true at all," he insists.

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