'I won't write vulgar because someone wants me to!'
The launch of Javed Akhtar's Soz, with ghazal artiste Jagjit Singh marks another successful crossover for the man with the magic pen.
Riding high on the success of Lagaan and looking forward to his son Farhan's debut directorial film, Dil Chahta Hai, he spoke with Vivek Fernandes at the Soz launch:
When did the alliance between you and Jagjit Singh begin?
In 1981, we first came together to work for a film called Saath Saath, where we worked with Kuldeep Singh.
Yeh tera ghar, yeh mera ghar was one of the songs of the film which became immensely popular. So popular that, today, almost 20 years later, I believe that they are currently shooting a film by the same name.
We also worked together for Silsilay in 1998 and now for Soz.
How have your writings changed through the years?
I write with the times. Also, I don't work if I don't feel good about what I am doing.
I won't write vulgar lyrics because someone wants me to.
I've learnt that the song is part of the narrative. How good my work is, is something the public decides.
Does the lyricist always compose keeping the singer in mind?
I do. I've worked with everyone from Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan to Jagjit Singh to Shanker Mahadevan.
Each singer has his own merits.
I would not compose an Afreen Afreen, which I did for Nusrat, for someone like Shanker. Or, for that matter, a Breathless, which I did for Shanker, which capitalises on Shanker's control over his music, for Jagjitji.
What is your opinion on today's lyricists who been accused of turning verse to filth?
I find their work interesting. Just because it is lighthearted, it need not be termed as frivolous. Every film needs lighthearted songs to liven it up.
What is your opinion on the Gadar controversy?
Of late, these occurrences seem to be on the rise, which is not something we ought to be proud of.
At least, in Gadar's case, these attacks and allegations have come after the film has been released.
Water was under persecution while it was being filmed.
Why can't film-makers make the kind of films they want to here, in peace?