Bollywood lyricists; a lost world in the glamour of singers and musicians

Yesterday, the much-awaited number of ‘Half Girlfriend’, ‘Phir Bhi Tumko Chahunga’ was unveiled. The soulful voice of Arijit struck chords of our hearts yet again, as we sank into the sweet melancholy that love is, feeling the pangs that Madhav bears for Riya. The words were equally poignant but as usual, social media just remembered the composer (Mithoon), and the singer (Arijit), and nowhere did the mention of Manoj Muntashir come, the one whose beautiful Urdu verses brought the song alive. It triggered the lyricist, and why will it not, when his words were what brought out the soul of the number, combined with the amazing voice of Arijit and musical composition of Mithoon.

But it surely got us thinking.

What is it that comes to our mind, when we first listen to a song? The music, whether or not it strums the beats of your hearts, the singer, how deep can the soulful voice penetrate inside your conscience. We do fall in love with the words too, but that comes as an afterthought, and then we search on the internet for the name of the lyricist, a part of the composition who is mostly forgotten.

We know Arijit Singh, we know Pritam, we know Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, we know Jatin-Lalit, Udit Narayan, shreya ghoshal, and the likes. But, how many of us have heard the names of Aditi Paul, Swanand Kirkire, or even Prasoon Joshi, just with a click as soon as we hear their words? Not really. Reason being that the publicity that the two elements of a music composition, tune and vocals, get, is not received by the third element, lyrics, and the person behind it.

Whenever there is a new song release, the singer, and the musicians trend on social media. Lyricist, as an afterthought. However, these are the people whose words bring meaning and soul to the song, the words that stay after you, long after you have heard the melody, a poetry soothing your heart and soul.

Be it the musings of Javed Akhtar and Gulzar, or the new-gen rebellions fused with poetry, of Prasoon Joshi, Irshad Kaamil and Amitabh Bhattacharya, and the likes, the lyrics and words have changed a lot in Bollywood. There is a whole transition that words and their meaning have gone through, beautifully transporting us.

Remember the poetry of ‘Zindagi Naa Milegi Dobara’, that whimsically played with us? As stunning visuals passed before our eyes, the musings of Imraan’s character brought a charm to the scene that otherwise would have been forgotten. It was later on, that we came to know that the words that were magically feeding our parched souls were actually penned down by Javed Akhtar. See what we are driving at? Even a name so popular has been victim to this mere practice of forgetting the lyricist, and giving all credit to what we hear and see, not what we process, in the form of words.

Lyrics are the soul of the song, the scene, the tune that lingers in our minds. These should not be forgotten. We rest what we had to say, with these beautiful lines by Javed Akhtar,

Kyon dare zindagi mein kya hoga,

Kuch na hoga toh tazurba hoga,

Hansti aankhon mein jhaank kar dekho,

Koi aansun kahin chhupa hoga.

Beautiful, isn’t it? Even without music, even without a voice. Such, is the magic of words, such is the power of lyrics, something that gets lost in the glamorous world of singers and musicians.

Kapoor & Sons: Caught the plight of homosexuals tenderly and yet made 'coming out' look doable

Kapoor & Sons: Caught the plight of homosexuals tenderly and yet made 'coming out' look doable
Image Source - YouTube

Kapoor & Sons – Since 1921. The house proudly flaunted that to the world, nestled in the greens of Coonoor. No one knew the darkness that was inside, the demons that were individually dealt with. But then, isn’t every family like that?

Bollywood lyricists; a lost world in the glamour of singers and musicians

Two years have passed by since this Shakun Batra-directorial, story of a dysfunctional family had come to our lives. However, amongst the various themes that tore apart the family and eventually brought it together, one that truly had the power to transform, was that of homosexuality.

Not many know, that the role played by Fawad Khan, that of family’s elder son, a successful author, was actually offered to many A-listers, who turned it down, eventually leading him to step into the shoes of Rahul. And it was, indeed, a very big step on his part. He was venturing out of his territory, a man who has such a huge female-fan following, and comes from a country with religion as its main running philosophy. He did the role and brought such conviction to it that we were forced to stand up and applaud, his courage, and the beauty with which his character was carved.

Bollywood lyricists; a lost world in the glamour of singers and musicians

Since times immemorial, all our memories of gay characters on screen have been that of carelessly effeminate and unimportant roles, which are just there to add a comic element. The stereotype has been high to an extent that often the champions of the same channelise it and promote it, for it is wrapped in the shiny paper of presentation. The biggest example of this was ‘Dostana’, which was an amazing story of friendship, still used homosexuality as humour, as its backdrop. Ironically, it came from the same production house, though nearly eight years before that.

Bollywood lyricists; a lost world in the glamour of singers and musicians

But ‘Kapoor & Sons’ begged to differ here. The character here was real, someone who was hiding himself, for the society, his family. There was surreality to the theme of homosexuality here, which had the power to jar us inside out; and that, it did.

Two scenes from the movie specifically hit me. First one is when Sunita (Ratna Patak Shah) finds out that her ideal elder son, whom she adores and is proud of, is not straight. The aftereffects of the same jolt you, because the reaction is just what an Indian mother gives, in any situation that is beyond her control; uncontrollable anger at the offspring, and then uncontrollable guilt, of blaming herself and her upbringing. The scene is filmed so beautifully, that your eyes sting. The way Fawad’s facade falls and his fear is marked across his face, which is then replaced by the anger of hiding himself for all those years, and mother’s dilemma and hurt, it all comes out in a naked and real manner.

Bollywood lyricists; a lost world in the glamour of singers and musicians

Another sequence is when Rahul (Fawad Khan) comes back home after the showdown with his mother and the death of his father totally uproots whatever sanity his family possessed. He sits with his mother, with whom his last encounter was one of his coming out, and she asks, hesitatingly, about his partner. A subtle way of expressing acceptance, the way they hold hands, without saying anything, it stays with you.

Bollywood lyricists; a lost world in the glamour of singers and musicians

It may not be one masterpiece, but ‘Kapoor & Sons’ will forever remain a favourite for finally breaking the mainstream stereotype of a gay man, in Bollywood. And for that, no matter how many bans, I will forever be waiting for Fawad Khan to come back, and give us more performances; with dare and conviction.

Bollywood lyricists; a lost world in the glamour of singers and musicians

An ode to Sridevi, the queen who inspired the queers long before it became mainstream

An ode to Sridevi, the queen who inspired the queers long before it became mainstream
Image Source - Pinterest

“I am a kid from the 90s but still can’t forget those days when, me-myself was not out and proud about my preferences. And inside my own sweet world would dance in front of the mirror on many songs, but majorly on ‘Hawa Hawai’ and ‘Main Teri Dushman, Dushman Tu Mera’. These songs were just not tunes for me, it made me feel exactly what I was; a QUEERby birth”.

Bollywood lyricists; a lost world in the glamour of singers and musicians
Image Source - India Forums

The news of the legendary diva Sridevi being no more with us is still hard to believe, as she was part of my and every queer’s childhood memories. While in the late 90s my bunch of friends would idolise a star from the West as their gay icon, me being a full-fledged Bollywood fanatic was in love with Sridevi and she was a diva I used to worship (and will forever). Her golden costume and perfectly done makeup in ‘Hawa Hawai’ made me feel, “Yes! There is someone like me out there who loves bling and all things loud.” Her feather headgear in one of the songs from ‘Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja’, touched my drag Queen‘s soul. One of the lines from her song ‘Hawa Hawai’ which is ‘Soorat Hi Maine Aisi Paayi’ transported me into a world where I thought that there is someone narcissist just like me. Sridevi’s charm was on my mind and the feminine side in me just wanted to be a replica of her.

Bollywood lyricists; a lost world in the glamour of singers and musicians
Image Source - Pinterest

The gone actress has not only given a lot to the Indian cinema, but her sass and talent of naturally moulding herself into any character gave her an upper hand in whatever she used to do. When many gay men were struggling and were confused about their sexual orientation they found a connection to their on-going pain in Sridevi’s roles. Whether it was Sridevi as a meek Anju and ferocious Manju fighting for everything wrong in ‘ChaalBaaz’ (1989), Pooja’s mutiny against the everlasting societal conditions in ‘Lamhe’ (1991), Seema’s confidence-filled and fearless dance in the ‘Mr. India’ (1987) song ‘Hawa Hawaai’ or her role of a naagin (snake) coming out to the world about her dual identity in ‘Nagina’ (1986), Sri’s roles had a deep connection and were etched in every GAY man’s mind.

Bollywood lyricists; a lost world in the glamour of singers and musicians
Image Source - giphy.com

And how can one miss ‘Kate Nahin Kat Te’ song of Sridevi from ‘Mr. India’, where she owned the song and made every gay guy’s dream to dance on it once with his man. This particular song was wild, seductive and equal parts bold. Sridevi draped in a sky-blue coloured saree with a matching bindi and of course adding fuel to the fire was her dancing moves. Even at the end of the song, a fully wet in rainwater, Sridevi stretching herself on a pile of hay – ‘Tumne jo li angdayi hai’ – where the diva nibbles on straws with a drenched fire in her eyes, leaving Mr. Kapoor to chivalrously lie on a distant haystack.

While mostly when the film fraternity was in a zone where feminine men were used as a tool to add fun elements on the silver screen, Sridevi was a ray of hope for the LGBTQ community. She was like a powerful symbol for the QUEERS. Her role resonated each and every gays struggle, and also echoed their dysphoria into her characters. And with her, all the queer children surpassed the narrow-minded stereotypes which they were labelled with. Lastly, she might be gone, but the colourful rainbow universe she opened for all the fellow LGBTQ people remains there intact..

Hail the QUEEN! RIP Sridevi.