Music Interview: Swanand Kirkire

Different Notes

Swanand Kirkire (9K)

Swanand Kirkire does not like to be labeled as a lyricist who can only write certain kinds of songs. He knows he is versatile and has gone about proving it by writing songs ranging from Lage Raho Munnabhai to films as diverse as Parineeta and Jai Santoshi Maa.

He agrees at the outset that he does not enjoy being labeled. Parineeta gave him the kind of recognition that any lyricist hopes to get and Lage Raho Munnabhai consolidated his position in Bollywood. Kirkire has the distinction of being the first Marathi lyricist to make it big writing lyrics in Bollywood. Swanand says that his grounding in the National School of Drama in Delhi helped hone his Hindi skills. Being naturally interested in poetry, it was no surprise when he turned his attention to writing poetry.

He worked as a lyricist first in Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi. Swanand came to Mumbai to become a director but fate had other plans.After assisting Manju Singh on her TV serial Swaraj, he joined Sudhir Mishra and assisted him on three films - Calcutta Mail, Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi and Chameli, the latter as associate director-dialogue writer. He even sang a song in Hazaaron... One thing led to another and Sudhir requested him to write the songs for the film as well. Before he knew it, Swanand was a happening lyricist.

It helped that his family have been die-hard fans of Hindi films songs and as a child, Swanand was exposed to his father's favorites like Majrooh Sultanpuri and Shailendra who became his favourites as well. Later, he began analyzing the language of the songs and understood what lyrics were all about. It seemed destined that Swanand should be a lyricist though what he wanted to do initially was to direct and write.

Writing songs for a devotional film is never easy but Swanand, so early in his career, has done just that with Jai Santoshi Maa. Swanand admits that he was not taken by the idea of writing devotional songs especially because he is a rational person and not drawn towards such themes. He had never written devotional songs before. He finally decided that he should try that genre too. Though he feels his work is satisfactory, he doesn’t think that it is anything exceptional. He has a special word of praise for Anu Malik who he says was great to work with.

Some songs in Lage Raho Munnabhai like Bande mein tha dum... have joint credits. Swanand says that when the team had friendly powwows, Vinod Chopra was the person who actually came up with the words Bande mein tha dum and Swanand decided it would be a great idea to use the words Vande Mataram. And Farhad shared the credits because he contributed to the tapori part of the lyrics just as he had in Munnabhai MBBS.


Swanand says there are lyricists who are doing good work today and given the right opportunities, they can do a much better job. Their work, in a way, has changed because the language used is different though the basic idea is the same. He is looking forward to carving his own niche in Bollywood by writing diverse songs, which will be remembered. Considering his past record, this should not be a difficult goal to attain.

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