Home » Interviews » ‘Parinda’ lyricist Khursheed Hallauri: ‘I feel grateful about all the opportunities I got’

Parinda completes thirty-two years of its release today. The Vidhu Vinod Chopra directed crime drama is considered to be one of the most iconic films made in the history of Hindi cinema. Upon its release, the film had limited commercial success but with time, it became a cult film.  

While the film is revered by many, the soundtrack, too, remains etched in people’s minds. When you look at the CD or LP record of the film or go through its credits online, you see the legendary R. D. Burman being credited with composing the four-song soundtrack for the film. While R. D. Burman is one of the most celebrated Hindi film composers, not many would be familiar with the name Khursheed Hallauri, the man who is credited with writing all the songs for the film.

Khursheed Hallauri is one of the most respected names in the Urdu poetry circle but the reason why a lot of Hindi cinema buffs are not familiar with his name is because of the limited amount of work he did in cinema. In this interview, the poet and lyricist talks about writing the iconic songs of ‘Parinda’, working with the likes of RD Burman, Laxmikant – Pyarelal and Mehdi Hassan, being underutilized in Hindi cinema and more.

How did you come on board to write the songs for ‘Parinda’?

I had a friend called Imtiaz Hussain who was writing the dialogues for ‘Parinda’. Vidhu Vinod Chopra was looking for a new lyricist who could bring some freshness to the music with his words. Imtiaz recommended my name for writing the lyrics. Though I had never written for a film, I had written qawallis and songs for several non-film albums.  

How was the experience of working on the film?

I met Vidhu Vinod Chopra and he briefed me about the story and the situations where songs could be placed. He had a good ear for music and it was wonderful working with him. He wanted me to write the friendship song (‘Kitni Hai Pyari Pyari’) first. He told me two friends were meeting after a long time. One of them was coming back from America after several years. I had to write the kind of lines that would showcase their joy of meeting each other after a long gap. After getting the brief from him, I wrote the lines “Kitni pyari pyari dosti humaari, jo yaar ki khushi woh khushi hai humaari…” instantly. Vidhu Vinod Chopra liked these lines and told me that I will write all the songs for the film. The most popular song from the film was ‘Tumse Milke’ which was inspired from an English song. They liked the tune of the song and wanted to adapt it for the film. My favourite song from the film was ‘Pyaar Ke Mod Pe’. It had a lot of depth.

After ‘Parinda’, one expected you to do many more films. Why did you do such little work in films?

Actually, working in films was never my goal. I started my career with HMV (now Sa Re Ga Ma). I worked on many qawalli albums with them. After that, I had a long association with Venus. I wrote qawallis for T-Series for more than fifteen years. I was always busy with work. Whenever somebody asked me to write a song for a film, I obliged but I never went looking for work. You have to keep lobbying to get work in Hindi films. I never wanted to do that. Sometimes, a producer would want me to write for him but the music director would prefer working with another lyricist whom he has had a long association with. I have no complaints. By God’s grace, I always had work. I feel grateful about all the opportunities I got in life. I have written for pop and ghazals as well. One of my most popular ghazals is ‘Usne Jab Meri Taraf’ that was sung by Mehdi Hassan and composed by Lalit Sen.

You also worked with Laxmikant – Pyarelal on a film.

Yes, I wrote a qawalli for Laxmikant-Pyarelal called ‘Mehfil Mein Mujhko Dekhkar’. It was used in the film ‘Naag Nagin’ featuring Rajiv Kapoor and Mandakini in lead roles.

You have been wrongly credited as Mursheed Hallauri in that song.

Yes, my name has been misspelt on many albums as well. I have been credited as ‘Khurshid Hallauri’ on some albums and as ‘Khursheed Hillori’ on others. I have always spelt my name as ‘Khursheed Hallauri’.

There are a large number of people in India who only listen to Hindi film music. Writing for more films would have helped you reach out to them.

I would have liked writing for more films but I had one ‘usool’ and I stood by it. I had vowed never to ask people to give me work. I have come across many people who speak rudely to those who ask for work. They humiliate them and treat them badly. When you treat a person with respect, you expect them to treat with you with respect as well. When that doesn’t happen, you must walk out.

You have written many popular qawallis over the years. What has been your relationship with Allah or God?

I do believe in God and thank him for all His blessings. Apart from writing qawallis, I have also written many bhajans for T-Series.

When were you born?

As per my birth certificate, I was born in the year 1950. I was born in Hallaur, a small village in Uttar Pradesh. It is close to the Nepal border. I studied in an Urdu medium school.

When did you come to Mumbai?

I first came to Mumbai in the year 1964. When money drained out, I went back to my village. I came back to Mumbai again after a few years and slowly, started getting work. By God’s grace, I didn’t have to struggle for a long time.

Did R. D. Burman never ask you write for him after ‘Parinda’?

After ‘Parinda’, I remember meeting him at a recording studio where I had gone to meet a friend. He was recording a song there. When he saw me, he paused work for a while so that he could talk to me. I remember him being very warm and pleasant during that meeting. For some reason, he never approached me to write for him.  

Do you live with your family?

Yes! For several decades now, Mumbai has been my home. I got married in the year 1976. I live with my wife. I have four sons and two daughters. All of them are married. One of my sons and his family live with us. I am very proud of my children, though I regret not teaching them Urdu properly.  

Last year, The Indian Performing Right Society Ltd (IPRS), with the support of many prominent lyricists in the industry, launched a campaign called ‘Credit De Do Yaar’. Through the campaign, they tried to highlight the fact that music streaming apps were not mentioning the names of the lyricists in the credit listing of the albums. What are your thoughts on this?

Everybody who has worked on a song should get proper credits. A song remains incomplete without words and lyricists must get the respect they deserve. The IPRS is a fair and well-regulated body and I am thankful to them for all the wonderful initiatives they have taken over the years. Because of IPRS, I have always got my royalty amount on time.