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Posted at: May 19, 2019, 7:58 AM; last updated: May 19, 2019, 7:59 AM (IST)

I fall in love each day...

...says noted lyricist Manoj Muntashir. Writer of lilting songs such as Galliyan & Tere sang yaara, his muse always is the heroine on which the song is picturised

Nonika Singh

In a way, he is ‘walking and talking’ poetry. Award-winning Bollywood lyricist and writer Manoj Muntashir not only remembers most of his own songs/poems by heart but of other legendary writers too. 

In conversation, at a literary evening in Chandigarh, part of Kalam series organised by Prabha Khaitan Foundation, every question is met with sublime poetic thoughts. 

But then, the poet who stumbled upon Diwan-e-Ghalib at age seven has been reading ever since. Padte padte...kab likhna seekh gaya, he can’t quite pinpoint. Today, as he pens relatable songs such as Kaun tujhe yun pyar karega...., he reasons, “There are two ways of writing. One is esoteric; you climb up a pedestal and decide to show off your knowledge. The other is you think and feel like a common man.” 

With lilting songs like Galliyan and Tere Sung Yaara under his belt, you bet he is a die-hard, nay hopeless, romantic. So, who does he have in mind when he writes songs dripping with love and romance? Surely, the wife figures somewhere but more than that he writes for the heroine on which the song is likely to be picturised. 

“I fall in love each day..,” he says with a filmi flourish. Women, however, figure very highly on his mindscape and he would never ever write anything that is disparaging to the fair sex. No wonder, he fails to understand blatant objectification of women in songs such as Main tandoori murgi.

Those who deem Hindi film music is going downhill, he doesn’t really disagree and shoots off, “If we don’t give space to poetry in songs, the same is bound to happen.” But if you think poets are not duly recognised in Hindi film industry, he reminds you of giants like Sahir Ludhianvi, who not only commanded stature but high price too.  “The problem with writers is they are ready to sell themselves short. I believe I am irreplaceable and demand what I deserve.” 

Even in days when Muntashir’s songs were not quite chartbusters, he didn’t doubt his ability. So, those who won’t grant him his due, he will simply move away. Though he scripted the spontaneity of humongously popular show KBC, he asserts, “Television doesn’t recognise people behind the scenes. ” Bollywood  is not merely recognising him but applauding too. However, he doesn’t take awards (“merely a token of acceptance”) too seriously and is undaunted by future and what it might entail. For the poet in him knows too well, “Aakhir mein toh sab log kahani ho jaayenge.” 

But, for now, his words have the power to move hearts and make eyes moist. If for Kesari he writes heartfelt lyrics, “Teri mitti mein mil jaavan,” in his book Meri Fitrat Mastana, the poem ‘Mera naam sipahi hai’ is even more befitting a salute to soldiers.  

To love your nation, he feels, is as natural as breathing. So, who can ever cast aspersions on the patriotism of any Indian? “Where is the doubt....” indeed wherein also in his uncanny prowess to relate and be relatable. The lyricist, who connects and communicates, words for him are a bridge through which he takes us to galliyan, close to our heart. 

Initiating a dialogue

“A good poet by default is a prose writer,” deems Manoj Muntashir, who wrote the Hindi dialogues and lyrics of magnum opus Baahubali. Penning Hindi dialogues of Hollywood blockbuster Black Panther too came naturally to him for he thinks thematically Black Panther was on the same lines as Baahubali.  


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