Fine musical buzz

A songwriter, scriptwriter and dialogue writer, Mayur Puri is slowly climbing up the directorial ladder too. Rajiv Vijayakar engages this multifaceted personality in a tête-à-tête...

Some weeks ago, Mayur Puri’s song Tu hi tu har jagah aaj kal kyun hai (Why are you omnipresent nowadays?) from Kick whipped up a popular storm, especially as Salman Khan sang one version. Written to a situation in this action-thriller, it graphically denoted Mayur’s current position as one of our most versatile creative talents.

Mayur, in addition to being an in-demand, if not too prolific, songwriter, is also a script and dialogues writer, an actor (Prince, Ajab Gazabb Love), creative and associate director, a theatre and television person and more. And right now, he is busier than ever.

In 2014, Mayur has also written the hits, Johnny Johnny and Veeran di wedding hai from Entertainment, the popular Hum paagal nahin hai from Humshakals, the funky Shake your bootiya in Finding Fanny and is the co-writer of Happy New Year. In fact, Shah Rukh Khan has entrusted him with the key responsibility of vetting the promotions of this magnum opus.

From here it began...

The unassuming Mayur is a Punjabi who was raised in Ahmedabad, doing college and professional theatre and television there, before he moved to Mumbai in 1999. Starting out in films in Sanjay Gadhvi’s debut film Tere Liye (2000) as first assistant, he became assistant director in Gadhvi’s next, Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai (Yash Chopra).

Jeet-Pritam (who soon split into Jeet Ganguly and Pritam) were the composers in both films and Mayur struck a bond with the latter, writing Dhuan dhuan for Pritam’s first independent release, Fun2shhh – Dudes In The 10th Century (2003), also graduating to associate director in the next Gadhvi-Pritam-Yash Chopra film, Dhoom (2004).

“In 11 years, I have only done some 80 songs,” admits Mayur. “I had no intention of becoming a lyricist — it was my friendship with Pritam, who coerced me into joining his team and providing dummy lyrics, that made me realise that I too could write songs. The first songs I wrote were Ishq hai jhootha and Yaaron from Ek Khiladi Ek Haseena, which released after Chocolate. The first songs that worked were Halka halka and Khalish from Chocolate and Falak dekhoon from Garam Masala, in 2005.”

Mayur enjoys writing songs, but fears that if he writes more, the quality may go down. “I am scared that I may repeat words or ideas,” he smiles. “Today, most producers have an album preset in their heads, with a menu of songs of specific types. There is little situational clarity; like when the song O mere raja from Johnny Mera Naam was written by Rajendra Krishan for a unique situation conceived by director Vijay Anand.”

By character

Mayur is thus proud of his chartbuster Teri ore from Anees Bazmee’s Singh Is Kinng. “He gave me a proper brief — the song began from the girl’s point of view and the hero, a Punjabi Jat, responded as per his character. The words I gave the hero were in keeping with his character of a man who had never fallen in love, but must have heard love stories back in his village.”

The thinking lyricist also believes in simplicity of language and considers himself a storyteller, even through songs. Mayur also ensures that his songs do not cross the borders of decency and have a definitive graph. “My Johnny Johnny from Entertainment is not a typical item song, but says something about the character,” he points out.

He strongly believes that a song is like a jigsaw, in which every piece is important. “You never know which piece can complete the picture! But today, the lot of a lyricist is unenviable. We have to shoot in the dark, as thanks to the digital scene replacing physical sales, we do not know what works and what does not, and how much a song really connects!” he says wryly. 

“We have to do our best in all this mess,” he adds. “And there are silver linings. I get along famously with Pritam and Sachin-Jigar, and they understand me. Remo (D’Douza)-sir, for whom I wrote the dialogues and lyrics of ABCD, and am now doing ABCD 2 too, is also completely clear about what he wants.”

Pals with Reshammiya

An amazing story Mayur relates is about his equation with Himesh Reshammiya. “When I was called to write for Humshakals, I found that Himesh had made an effort to find out everything about me! His musicians all greeted me like old friends and I, who normally take days to write a song, wrote his song there, in that comfort zone! When he called me for Kick, and I wrote Tu hi tu even faster! Now I am writing a song in All Is Well.”

Much in demand now as a film writer, Mayur shares a fantastic rapport with Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar, Salman Khan, the Bachchans and John Abraham. “Everyone is very caring, but I have spent the maximum time with Shah Rukh and done the maximum work with Akshay. Their life stories have also been inspiring for me, as they are outsiders who made it so big!”

Mayur credits Farah Khan for his comeback after he was disillusioned with the industry and had quit in 2011, starting a unique edutainment initiative named Story Circus for kids aged 3 to 8 with his academician wife. “I had written the dialogues for Om Shanti Om, including Ek chutki bhar sindoor... and Picture abhi baaqi hai dost... and as a parent, she brought her kids to our classes. She asked me to collaborate on Happy New Year. ABCD came next, but released earlier.”

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