‘Poetry Is Rare In Today’s Lyrics’

Prasoon Joshi, who was recently conferred with the title of Padma Shri, began his journey as an ad-maker and then entered the world of song-writing bringing with him a whole new perspective. He is the one who gave us such tag lines as Thanda Matlab Coca Cola andKuch Meetha Ho Jaye. He is the one who got us emotional with Main kabhi batlata nahi (Taare Zameen Par), made us dance to the tunes of Hawan Karengey and inspired us with the story of Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. 

Having excelled in everything, the adman, lyricist, poet, scriptwriter and singer talks about the changing parameters of creativity in the industry.

You have been in the industry for more than 10 years… how has it changed?
As we say, change is the only thing that is constant. Over the years, the parameter of creativity has altered. Some were good and there were certain changes that didn’t suit society, but it will change as things keep rolling. For a change to take place, it is necessary to point out things that we don’t like.

Do you think poetry is missing in today’s lyrics? Where are the lyricists lagging?
I would say poetry is not missing but it is rare. I would be practicing poetry, but everybody might not have the same approach. I feel that for a lyricist to excel, he needs to master one particular language. Language is the songwriters’ craft so they should be practicing it. Entertainment does not give you the license to be wrong or incorrect. Some people might give the logic that filmmakers, producers or music directors don’t know the language but it is the lyricist’s craft to perfect.
Recently, I penned the lyrics of Margarita With a Straw. Mikey, who is the music director, isn’t fluent in Hindi language. I had to work harder on the pronunciation and the diction. I feel not for anybody but for your own satisfaction, you should do better.

What is your take on the moral policing of a song or censorship of it?
There is no problem in criticising a song. I welcome criticism but policing is not right. Making the creator more responsible and sensible is what should be done. How long will one police a song or an album? It is very difficult. I feel it is very important to point out crass songs or words. There are a few songs that I absolutely condemn and we need to check those songs. Especially when it comes to a particular section of the society, religion or caste. There are a few songs that are hurting and I don’t feel to be a part of such clan.

At the same time, it doesn’t mean that the industry by large is irresponsible. We have very respectable people in the industry. I don’t think it is right to paint everybody with the same brush.

How would you define originality of film scripts?
Originality has a different definition. When it comes to writing scripts one should be transparent. If it’s an inspired script, the writer should mention it and be open about it. Last year, I wrote Bhaag Milkha Bhaag which was inspired by the life of Milkha Singh. Though it was an original script, I mentioned that it was inspired from his life. There is a very thin line between inspiration and plagiarism, but if you reveal a source and clearly state where the inspiration is from then I don’t think there is any problem. Sometimes, coincidence happens, but otherwise we know when it is stolen. Plagiarism and stealing is something I can’t handle.

What do you think of converting a novel into a film script?
It is good to convert novels into films but then the biggest challenge that the industry will face is original ideas. I believe that great cinema has been made in this country because they were backed by great literature. There were renowned writers who wrote great books which got converted into films. Somehow that tradition didn’t continue because people stopped reading, especially in regional languages. I think a lot more writing should happen. If people write original stories than there will be good films. If novels are getting converted into films, it will encourage people to write more and that’s what is required in this industry.

You and Aamir Khan prepared 50 short films on malnutrition, after being invited by the Prime Minister of India. How is the project coming along?
The project is complete and we have handed it over to the government. It is being aired on Doordarshan. We have created short stories on how to handle the problem of malnutrition, how the issue during delivery or pregnancy can be tackled, how healthy food intake is necessary for a pregnant woman. Such topics have been covered in these short stories.

Why hasn’t the ad world opened up to musicians for wholesome products/FMCG brands?
Being a poet myself, I would love to have a musician endorsing a product. But the pecking order of our country somehow revolves around Bollywood. I feel it is the consumer’s choice unlike in the West where musicians endorse several products. Also, in India the dose of music comes through movies, and be it any genre, it is through films. That is the reason why filmstars have become the most approachable endorsers.

What are your future projects?
After Bhaag Milkha Bhaag I received a lot of offers for bio-pics, but right now I am working on a historical project. I am collaborating with somebody for the same. I can’t reveal much now except that it is an ancient story. boxofficeindia

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