“Hardly any scope to write quality lyrics”

Raju Vernekar

Lyricist Yogesh Gaur alias “Yogesh” who is remembered for memorable songs like  “Kahin door jab din dhal jaaye”, “Zindagi kaisi hai paheli” (Anand) or “Rimjhim gire saawan” (Manzil) is of the opinion that there is hardly any scope for writing good lyrics in these days of big budget films.
Yogesh, who is 70 plus is still agile and active. He is surrounded by several encyclopedias in his residence in Goregon in Mumbai. He spoke to The Daily Excelsior on the occasion of the centenary of Indian film industry. Excerpts:
Q.  Can you tell us somethimg about the songs of  “Anand” which gave you recognition overnight?
A. ” I wrote the song ” Kahin door jab din dhal jaaye”. Hrishikesh Mukherjee (Hrishida) was so impressed that he made me to write one more song.So I wrote “Zindagi kaisi yeh paheli”.Both songs very hit.”
Q. So “Anand”has been a turning point in your career, isn’t it ?”
A. Obviously. After “Anand” Hrishida and I worked in several films including “Mili”.Then Basu Chatterjee summoned me for “Us Paar” and “Rajnigandha.” (Kai baar yunhi dekha hai). I wrote the songs for Basuda’s most of the films till “Pratiksha”. Prominent among them being “Chhoti Si Baat”, “Baaton Baaton Mein”, “Apne Paraye” and “Manzil”.
Q. How did you get the initial break?
A. I came to Mumbai at the age of 16 years. I used to spend hours together at Marine Drive and the Hanging Gardens brooding about penning my thoughts. Then Robin Banerjee took interest and after several jam sessions selected my six songs for “Sakhi-Robin” (1963), the film that marked my entry into the stunt-film genre. There after he signed me for nine films including “Marvel Man”, “Flying Circus” and “Adventure Of Robin Hood”.
Q. How did your career progress ?
A. After the death of lyricist Shailendra, Music Director Salil Chowdhury was looking for another writer. He gave me half an hour to write a song. I was dumb founded. So I left his Pedder Road house. But while waiting for the bus, I was struck by some lines. I went back and recited the lines to Salilda. He liked them and a new phase in my career began.
Q. With which music directors you have worked ?
A. I have worked with Vasant Desai, Madan Mohan, S D Burman, R D Burman, Salil Chowdhary, Bappi Lahiri, Usha Khanna, Rajesh Roshan, Dilip Sen, Sameer Sen, Anu Malik, Nikhil, and others. But I could not work with Laxmikant-Pyarelal.  I had written a song for LP for “Duniya Nachegi”. Kishore Kumar and Kumkum were to act in that film. There was some financial problem and the music was not even released. Later, till the 90s, any film planned with Laxmikant-Pyarelal never took off.
Q. How important was the role of lyricist earlier?
A.  Earlier the lyricists hardly used to compromise. I remember an incident.  Lyricist Shailendra had refused to remove the word “Anam” from the song “Mera Nam Raju Gharana Anam” (“Jis Deshme Ganga Behti Hai”) despite insistence by Shankar Jaiksihan. Eventually the song was released as it is. .
Q. What has been your experience ?
A. I worked primarily with Hrishida Mukherjee, Basu Chatterjee and Basu Bhattacharya.My work was restricted to ‘art’ films. As such there was no question of “compromise”. But lately even I had to follow the suit.For instance I agreed to make changes in the songs of ” English Babu Desi Mem” (1996) at the insistence of the director Praveen Nischol.”
Q. Whom do you rate as the best lyricists ?
A. I rate Shailendra, Sahir Ludhianvi and Pradeep as the best writers.
Q. Do your like present day lyrics ?
A.  “Now the style of working has changed. Earlier, we were given a situation and asked to write accordingly. Today there is hardly any scope for writing good songs because the film makers are more interested in some how raising collection at box office. The item songs are in more demand. I do not remember a single song in the last one decade which can be described as “memorable”. I do not think that the golden era of music will come back.”
Q. Does this mean that we cannot expect quality songs in future at all ?
A. No. The picture is not that bleak. Occasionally good songs do crop up.  Some of the songs like “Tere Mast Mast Do Nain” ( “Dabang”) remind us of old melody.
Q. How do you sum up your work ?
“I scored music for over 100 films and did title-tracks of 200 TV serials and a choir song with late Salilda. I also did two films with Manna Dey as a music composer and wrote the script, dialogues and lyrics of Kishoreda’s last film  “Pyar Ajnabi Hai”.
Q.On which projects are you working now ?
A. I have written lyrics for the new Hindi film ” Char Diwane Ek Diwani”. The upcoming music director Pravin has scored the music.


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