Sunday, 15 June 2014

Is there a lyricist in the house?

A good few years back, I would have enjoyed my Sunday mornings by spending the first few hours with cups of tea, something to chirp on, and finally, a good few melodies to relish and rejuvenate. I had this routine of scrolling through all the music channels in search of something cathartic. Music channels were music channels back then, not rife with contrived reality shows and phony soaps all around. As I tried doing the same today, like I've been trying to do for so long, I realized that in its quest to rake in as much as it could in the wave of commercialization, Bollywood has brought itself and its music particularly, to such a depraved state that there’s no going back.

Back in those days, I was pretty confident of getting at least one song from every genre. One with the lover in sigh, gnawing at his beloved’s portrait, impeccably delineated with stunning lyrical prowess. Or I’d get a heart wrenching number, with a soldier helplessly asking the winds to deliver his message to his hopeful mother. I even got a few delirious ones, with love being portrayed through the quavering worlds of a brusque lover, but with true honesty and even obsequiousness. Finally, I’d wrap up with a song perfectly expositing the ordeal of a pauper, putting it in words with such flair, that you could almost empathize with him. The songs lacked the varied instruments we use today, but it was the lyrics that still mattered the most. Mine time was a transitional phase with almost equal weightage to both the message and the means. Now, it’s only about the means, with the message being extinct already. Let’s see what I got today.

I got a song with a lecherous girl, waiting to embolden a nation with her bulging bosom and a callipygian rear. While picturesque beauties with all their aura and resplendence are an everlasting theme, it has become a recipe for success. Showing her get wet in the showers to make her pearls become a little more conspicuous, with a brawny guy with protruding biceps, swaying her in various positions. I mean, I got that in two songs at least. Then I got one in which people were dancing woefully, with no synchronicity and in a rather tremulous way. Once again, the guy with burly muscles would hold the bacchanalian girl tight, so that the licentious crowds could devour a moment or two of splendor and erotic verve. And then there was a valorous attempt to make a good song out of a rather incomplete love story. The attempt was good, but the song worked its charm only when accompanied with the video. The song in itself was not capable of telling any story of its own. You need the video for the song to speak out. Moreover, you need a framework of mellows and dulcets for it to become a crescendo. The lyrics, in their own accord, can’t even be deemed existential. They’re merely a necessity to make the song from becoming a rendition. Alas!, I turned it off.

I browsed through my own collections to reminisce some of those redolent melodies. Allah Ke Bande Hans De from Kailash Kher, with just a soothing guitar score, sounded much more heavy and powerful than oodles of metallic beats, and his singular frail and forlorn appearance told much bigger a story than jumping monkeys all over the screen. Listen to that song even today, and it shrivels you with an enrapturing and environing feeling. Then there was Yeh Jo Des Hai Tera, from Swades. A song that singlehandedly links you to your land and roots. Even a puerile movie with its peevish screenplay won’t be able to deliver that today. Finally, there was a Kya Karein Kya Na Kare from Rangeela. Yes, the movie had helluva music and that took it to the apogee of mellifluousness, but the lyrics once again, went in perfect tandem with the mood and the zeitgeist. Once again,  the lyrics in themselves, told a story of many a men, and rather effortlessly. I was happy I left the TV and came there, while I was sad I’m not going to witness anything new in that department. It was then that I asked, Is there a lyricist in the house?

Gulzar, whose lyrical bravado knows no bounds

Javed Akhtar's grip on his words is mesmerizing

Mehboob needs a special mention for his fickle genius