Noted penmanship

in conversation

Swanand Kirkire has worn many hats in Bollywood, his recent one being that of a lyricist for the film ‘PK’. shama Bhagat engages him in a tête-à-tête.

Two-time National Film Award winner Swanand Kirkire has penned lyrics for the songs in the film PK, with the hit combination of Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Rajkumar Hirani and Aamir Khan. Actor, singer, musician, lyricist and director Swanand is now in a happy place.

“First, I got paid as a lyricist when I didn’t realise my ability to write. Then, Vidhu Vinod Chopra gave me a breakthrough with Parineeta, and its music director, Shantanu Moitra, asked me to sing. I had previously acted in Eklavya. They honed my creative abilities and I feel fortunate about it,” he adds.

Early influences
Swanand started his career as an assistant director to Sudhir Mishra. “I am a theatre graduate, but not a trained theatre actor. Singing came naturally to me as my parents (Chintamani and Neelambari Kirkire) are classical singers. But I acquired the skill during the process of work. Music is the most pleasurable art. Our culture is imbibed with music, which people love,” he explains. The multitalented personality believes that every process has a crucial role during filmmaking. “I love each process — writing, singing and acting, which I consider the most pampered job in the film industry.”

But it’s music he enjoys above everything else. However, he rues that melody in music is on the decline. “It has not gone out of the Indian film music, but people have inhibitions to experiment. Listen to the songs of PK and you will find melody. When I listen to Shantanu Moitra and Rajkumar Hirani, I’m convinced that melody exists in cinema music. People outside the industry love our music because of the way it’s celebrated. It would be sad if lip-sync songs have no place in our films,” adds Swanand.

Swanand and music director Shantanu Moitra have a longstanding bond. “When I feared writing lyrics, he pushed me into it. We started off with the show Bawraas, and later we worked on Parineeta. People cast us together then on for the chemistry we shared with music. Most of my music collaboration is with him. Shantanu has varied interests. He travels quite a lot and is writing a book,” he adds.

Director’s ways
Swanand has always been a die-hard fan of director Rajkumar Hirani. “He is a wonderful filmmaker and brings both entertainment and social messages to screen. His films deal with issues, but in a humorous way. You fall in love with his scripts. At the same time, he wants his songs to work in a story. He does not add an item number for the sake of it. If well-made songs become an integral part of a film’s storyline, music is bound to work. Aamir, too, doesn’t interfere, unless he doesn’t understand something. This kind of woking is perhaps why he is the most commercially successful man in the industry.”

According to Swanand, competition is strong in the music industry. “When I started writing in my early 20s, there were music directors like Gulzar, Laxmikant-Pyarelal and Kalyanji-Anandji. Prasoon (Joshi) and I were new in the industry, which lacked youngsters.

Now, many youngsters have forayed here, which is a welcome change. Like Yo Yo Honey Singh, who has carved his niche. We are finding our voices. I hope the field gets more competitive and goes beyond film music. Original compositions and voices are required.”

Besides music, Swanand will be seen in an important role in Prakash Jha’s upcoming film, Crazy Cukkad Family, and Eros International’s Ghoomketu, with Nawazuddin Siddiqui. He is working on a script to take on direction.

Is he is expecting his third National Film Award? “You can plan your future, but you cannot plan awards. I have two of them, and I can only work towards the third. I have never planned anything, things have come my way. My job  is to only work hard,” he asserts.

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