For Me Writing Is As Natural As Breathing – Swanand Kirkire

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Bawre se mann ki dekho bawri si baatein
Bawri si dhadkane hain bawri hain saansein
Bawri si karwaton se nindiya duur bhaage
Bawre se nain chaahe bawre jharokhon se
Bawre nazaron ko takna
Bawra mann dekhne chala ek sapna….

Thus began his dream journey of lyrics and singing. Making a splendid debut through Hazaron Khwahishein Aisi (2003), Swanand Kirkire, has romanced with lyrics and words and never looked back after that. His lyrics are addictive and hummable. Born into a Marathi middle class musical family in Indore, becoming an artist was a natural progression for him. While he weaves magic with his lyrics, he mesmerises people with his rustic voice even through his non film songs.

Swanand Kirkire is a major part of new wave of song writing in Hindi cinema. Changing a few things in lyric writing from romanticism to realism, his poetic expressions are honest and up front. His sense of music and writing makes him a forebearer in the art called Cinema.

TheSongPedia in conversation with Swanand Kirkire

His first association with music comes straight from his birth.
Says Swanand – Music runs through my veins. Being born to the parents who are well trained classical singers, my life began with music. My father and mother are both disciples of Kumar Gandharva, also my mother has been a disciple of my father. So music has been inculcated in me since his birth. Getting up early morning to a riyaz in a middle class musical household was a routine. Music runs in the family.

Just imagine, you getting up early morning (as early as 4 am) and your mother doing riyaz!! Swanand has been brought up in such divine atmosphere. So music has been an inseparable part of his life since childhood.

How did he begin his journey as an artist?
I had decided very early in my life about becoming an artist. Accompanying my father to Kumar Gandharva’s place, the seed of becoming an artist had been sown during my tender years. I was also exposed to theatre at this tender age, my uncle being a theatre artist. So I started visiting theatre at the age 8. But coming from a middle class background (both his parents were working, besides being classical singers) I was asked to complete my education and secure a job first. The atmosphere in the house was sans any flamboyance. But even if this is so, I never took a formal training in music.

How did theatre/acting finally happen?
Being brought up in an atmosphere which was full with music and acting, after visiting theatre with my uncle I decided I wanted to venture into theatres. Nobody is a born artist. One starts learning things around automatically. Some people take formal training, some don’t, but they learn from somewhere. The values imbued naturally. But doing theatres isn’t easy financially. It has growth artistically, but there’s no growth financially. So when I decided I wanted a career as an artist, I started doing cinemas too. But this came in gradually. I was greatly influenced by parallel cinema. While there is no such difference between theatres and cinema for an artist, technically there is a huge difference. Cinema mostly depends upon the technical aspects while theatres is mostly done by the human resources. So while I started shifting myself from theatres to cinema, I had to learn a lot of things. The camera work, editing, mixing. Narrating a movie through pictures is an evolved language in itself. So I had to learn this language before venturing into it. All the detailing, the finer nuances of what is going to happen. Putting two pictures together which should look like real.
Lyricist, singer, writer, actor…you have done all of this, so which is your favourite amongst these multi tasks?
I like everything. Today also I do everything. Whatever task comes my way. But I’m sure I don’t want to become a composer, though I’ve done composing earlier. Composing requires lot of discipline, I can compose a song here or there but not as a profession. But I’m certainly looking forward to make a movie, directing it. Though I can’t disclose the details right now, it’ll be a musical for sure.

How do you balance your life between all these things?
It is very difficult to balance. That’s why my life is very disbalanced (laughs). I don’t plan my days. I take the day as it comes. Sometimes it happens that you are writing something very intense and the next moment you have to sing a song which is very light and bubbly or you have to meet a friend and discuss about a movie, so all this juggling is fun. Shifting gears and taking up the challenges.
What was your parents’ role in your journey as an artist?
Firstly I did not know that I wanted to enter the industry as a lyricist or a singer. That just happened. I entered the industry because I wanted to become a director. The other things just happened on the way. My parents were initially worried and scared about my decision. They were anxious about how I’ll do it. But when they saw my resolve about joining the industry, they supported me. So after that I took admission at NSD, Delhi. And when I had decided to venture into films, I wanted to do it correctly. Through proper training. I was completely focused on completing my training at NSD. I wanted to make my base strong before entering into the field. Learning more and more, I discovered many more aspects in me at NSD. I discovered myself, about my writing skills.

What kind of songs do you like to write? Tell us something about your book Aapkamai.
I like to write everything. For me writing is as natural as breathing. From comedy to philosophy to romance, but it should relate to the present. It should have a subject of itself. The songs should talk about the times you are living in. And though I’ve written many songs, I don’t like to write item numbers. I haven’t written many. I don’t relate with item numbers. I run away from item numbers, though sometimes you can’t. I love to write songs about life. With reference to time.
Aapkamai is my book about my poems, mostly non film. Rajkamal Prakashan, the publishing house in Hindi literature, approached me for the poems I write. I used to write random poetry on Facebook, apart from my film lyrics, I still do that. And I had made a compilation of these short poems. Some were also there in my diary. So the publishing house selected some 80 poems from the compilation and put it together as Aapkamai. That’s how it came into existence. About the title, as I told you music has been my baapkamai and lyrics and poems is my Aapkamai!!

What motivates you everyday to keep doing your work amidst today’s competitive world?
There’s no competition amongst us lyricists. We co-exist. We have a mutual admiration for each other and we know our shortcomings as well as our talents. Amitabh Bhattacharya, Anvita Dutt, Varun Grover, Kausar Munir etc we belong to the same field and are good friends, not competitors. One can’t be a lyricist if he or she is jealous or competing. Jealousy doesn’t make you write lyrics, every other thing you can do in competition but not lyrics. What I can write, Amitabh Bhattarcharya can’t and vice versa. So we grow and evolve together. If need be we are always there to help each other with words and lyrics. We admire each other and are in touch with each other constantly.
Life itself inspired me to write, it motivates me to do my work. My seniors from the industry have always been an inspiration for me. It is a big world of lyrics. Gulzar Saab majorly. I started writing lyrics because of him. Reading his work. I don’t know whether I was good enough for those earlier times but Shailendra, Sahir have heavy influence on my writing.
I would have loved to write for all those music directors from the past SDB, RDB, SJ so many of them.
Hearing Gulzar Saab has been a different experience altogether. I always thought oh this is something very different. Beautiful and insightful. Through him I started listening to many other poets. My inspiration also happens to be Kishore Kumar. He did everything. Wrote lyrics, acted, sang, directed movies, composed music. He was all in one. I take that inspiration of doing all the things from him.
Swanand believes that the art of lyric writing is always evolving. It doesn’t vanish. Lyrics are always at par with times. The younger generation connects to these lyrics easily and readily. They might be different from the past times but it is a constantly changing process. Something else, some new things will evolve in the future. It is not a dead art. It is going through a phase now and finding new language. The problem with lyrics is everybody wants the old language.

Singers and songs you would like to listen to at given point of time?
I’m a big fan of Kishore Kumar and I’m also a fan of Rafi saab. Lata Mangeshkar is my all time favourite singer. I love to listen to classical songs. Pandit Kumar Gandharva, Kishori Amonkar, I love listening to Pandit Buddhaditya Mukherjee’s sitar, Hariprasad ji’s flute, Mallikarjun Mansur.
Amongst my future projects – I’m doing a film with Pradeep Sarkar with whom I have done Parineeta (2005). A Marathi film called Chumbak will release soon.

His message to all the readersHave fun, go easy in life. Don’t take too much stress. Smile, be happy.

Avid music lover and Dev Anand fan

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