Mayur Puri made his debut as a lyricist with the song ‘Halka Halka’ from ‘Chocolate’ (2005). The song was a hit and it paved the way for several other popular songs written by Mayur. However, a ‘hit’ is not all that matters. There are some songs which make you think and even urge you to introspect about certain things in your life or question your understanding of the world. These are the songs that inspire you to become a better human being, be more tolerant to people who might see the world differently from you and dig deep into your heart to revisit some emotions.
In a freewheeling conversation, Mayur talks about some of his most special songs which inspired him as a human being and many of those who heard them. Some of these songs are very popular and a few are the ones that deserve to be heard by a larger audience.
Zindagi/Saansein Siskiyaan Ban Jaayein – Provoked
It was a completely situational song. I did not get to meet the director or A R Rahman saab while writing this song. I was approached by the producer to write the song. The song was already made in English and I had to write it in Hindi. I couldn’t have translated the lyrics directly. I tried to understand the song and then, write the Hindi lyrics accordingly. They told me the film is about a woman’s struggle and how out of hopelessness, she finds hope. A woman gets married to a man and her husband is supposed to take care of her after the marriage. But what happens when the man, instead of protecting her, starts torturing her? In such a situation, you have to find the strength within yourself and fight back. I didn’t get to meet Rahman sir during this song. All my interactions were with Sridhar ji, his close associate. He was the one who sent me the track on email. I got to meet Rahman sir much later when we worked on ‘Blue’.
Chicken Kuk-Doo-Koo – Bajrangi Bhaijaan
I fell in love with the situation of the song. A lot of people say that the songs that are being made today are not as good as the ones that were being made back in the day. The reason behind is that there is a dearth of good situations. This was a unique situation wherein a Hindu Brahmin man takes a little girl, who is living in her house as a guest and happens to be a Pakistani Muslim, to a non-vegetarian dhaba. In our country we say, ‘atithi devo bhava’. We are taught to treat our guests like Gods. The song largely talks about tolerance. I am a preferred vegetarian. Palak, who sang the song, is also a vegetarian. Your own belief could be anything but you should respect somebody else’s belief too. That is, I believe, is the idea of India.
Ganapati Songs (Shambhu Sutaya, Sadda Dil Vi Tu (Ga Ga Ga Ganpati) – ABCD & Hey Ganaraya – ABCD 2)
When we wrote ‘Shambhu Sutaya’, we thought we would use multiple names of Ganpati throughout the song. I went to a puja shop and bought a book which had 1008 names of Ganpati. The book also specified the reason behind every name. I did extensive research on the names but after doing all that, I realized we should do something else. Then, I realized ‘Shambhu Sutaya’, which means Lord Shiva’s son, had a certain ring to it. This was a powerful song. In the last part of the song (“Jal mein, thal mein, shristi sakal mein, van mein, rann mein, kan kan mein…..”), we used a doho. Doho is different from a doha and usually, they are written for Lord Krishna. I don’t think anybody had written a doho for Ganpati till then or even now. When we had to do the second Ganpati song, we wanted to do it differently. Sachin-Jigar wanted to do a dubstep number. They also wanted to do a rap section and get it rendered by Hard Kaur. Once Hard Kaur came into the picture, Sachin-Jigar decided to add a Punjabi touch to the song as well. I was a little unsure about using Punjabi verses in a Ganapati song but Jigar was very sure. When ‘ABCD 2’ happened, Remo sir again said he wanted a Ganapati song. Initially, we thought he was joking but as it turned out, he was serious (laughs). Sachin suggested we must do a classical song as the earlier two songs were quite modern. That’s how ‘Hey Ganaraya’ came into being. Writing bhakti poetry is very easy. If you want to do something new and different, it becomes very challenging.
Chunar – ABCD 2
Chunar is one of those creations that happened on their own. In the original screenplay, there was no situation for the song. When I was doing the additional screenplay for the film, I realized the character which Varun Dhawan was playing cannot move on so soon. He has been disqualified from the competition and told he has not only hurt his country but also his dead mother. He needed to process the sadness within his heart and the tragedy that had happened in his life. I told Remo sir to treat ‘Chunar’ as a scene. I decided to write a song which is about the mother. Sachin-Jigar already had a tune. When I wrote the mukhda, everyone got on the same page. Instead of ‘chunar’, I wanted to use the word ‘aanchal’. ‘Chunar’ could have had romantic connotations to it. But, Sachin-Jigar were sure about using ‘chunar’ in the song.
Naghma Koi Gungune Ka – Tell Me O Kkhuda
Shreya Ghoshal sung this song beautifully. I also wanted this song to have a male version. I feel there is a lot of influence of Gulzar saab in the way the song has been written. Maybe, I was reading his poetry those days. “Khwaab ke dar pe humein simte huey lamhe mile, khushboo teri odh ke soye huey raaste chal pade..…” – the song was very poetic. It is very difficult to incorporate such tenderness in film songs. It’s a song that is very close to my heart. In the film, the song depicts the relationship between a daughter and a father but I believe it’s a song that could be about any relationship which could never reach its destination. Yeh gaana adhoore rishton ki kahaani bayaan karti hai (this song depicts the story of incomplete relationships). We often fall out of touch with our friends and relatives. Also, many a times, a sense of incompleteness remains in a relationship. This song depicts all those emotions quite well.