Interviews ...

“Every song should tell a story” – Prashant Ingole

Sometime in his 20s, Prashant Ingole discovered that he had a flair for writing. Encouraged by friends and acquaintances, Prashant headed to Mumabi to try his luck as a lyricist. Even after getting a break, Prashant had to endure years of struggle. Today, when he looks back at his struggle, he feels it played an important role in shaping him as an artist who dons multiple hats now. As a lyricist, Prashant has delivered several hits like ‘Party On My Mind’ (‘Race 2’), ‘Ziddi Dil’ (‘Mary Kom’), ‘Malhari’ (‘Bajirao Mastani’), ‘Pal’ (‘Jalebi’) and ‘Utth Ja Ziddi Re’ (‘83’).

 Recently, the lyricist collaborated with the music label Royal Falcon Music on ‘Hey Ram Ram’, a new-age devotional number dedicated to Lord Ram.

In this interview, Prashant talks about his recent releases, journey as a lyricist, why he likes to tell stories through songs, popular songs, becoming a filmmaker, learnings from Sanjay Leela Bhansali, collaborating with Pritam and more.

‘Hey Ram Ram’ has been written by you and composed by Teenu Arora. It has been sung by Amit Gupta. The track was released to celebrate the inauguration of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. In an interview, you had stated that you believe in God but not in religion. What is the kind of approach you have while writing a devotional song?

I believe there is some super power that is controlling us. I am born Hindu and a big devotee of Lord Ganesha. Lord Ram’s journey in Ramayana teaches us that you have to work towards being a good human being. He was all about integrity. When I look up to Bhagwan Shri Ram, I connect with that element of integrity. The inauguration of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya was a historic moment. Getting the opportunity to write a song on this occasion was a blessing.

How was the process of putting together this track?

Teenu Arora, who has composed ‘Hey Ram Ram’, has been a friend of mine. A while back, we had collaborated on a song called ‘Sloshed’. It was great teaming up with him again on a song which is completely different what we had done in the past. I had a great experience working with the entire team. Aziz (Zee) bhai, who is the founder and managing director of Royal Falcon Music, and Sanober (Herekar Aziz), who is the chief operating officer of the company, were extremely supportive throughout the process. I love writing devotional songs but I try to do something different every time I get the opportunity to write one. They wanted a modern devotional song that would appeal to Gen Z. They had plans to incorporate elements of techno and EDM music in it. I wrote a mukhda and the team loved it. Teenu created a tune around it. After that, I wrote an antara. It did not take us long to crack the entire song. I also wrote a shloka and we added it towards the end of the song. Amit Gupta came on board as the singer and he sang beautifully. They shot the video very nicely as well.

‘Hey Ram Ram’ was designed to cater to the Gen Z. What did the team do to make that happen?

Yes, it was designed for the Gen Z. When you hear the song, you realize the lyrics are linear and the music is non-linear. The track, therefore, is quiet unconventional. Aziz Zee and the entire team contributed greatly towards making the song special through their inputs. The video, I feel, took the song to another level.

Do you think devotional songs are as popular with the new generation as they used to be with the older generation?

The younger generation is getting into devotion and spirituality much earlier than the previous generation did. That’s because they have access to a lot more information, are far more aware and go through a variety of experiences very early in life. I see many young individuals visiting temples, churches, mosques and other religious institutions.

You have had quite an eventful journey as a lyricist. You grew up in Pune. In the year 2001, you started writing poetry for your friends’ girlfriends. They encouraged you to pursue it seriously. You kept moving back and forth between Mumbai and Pune. In those years, you did a variety of jobs as well. You worked in the insurance unit of a company. In Mumbai, you worked as a collection agent with a company. How did you train yourself to work as a lyricist?

I believe in the powers of the universe. Human beings, I feel, are beautifully designed machines by the God. Somebody else up there is making us do all that we do. I finished college with 35 marks in Hindi. I had just about got passing marks in the subject. I never thought I would write poetry in Hindi. I started off by writing English poetry and prose. My friends encouraged me and I came back to Mumbai. I struggled for 9-10 years while trying to get a foothold in the industry.

A writer should have good vocabulary. I didn’t have a very good command over Hindi. My friends suggested that I should read books on poetry and ghazals. I had never been much of a reader. Till date, I have read one and a half novel. I read that much because I had planned to write a novel myself and wanted to know about the structure. However, I loved reading ghazals. I loved the poetry written by Sahir Ludhianvi and Shailendra. Because of reading these books, my vocabulary got stronger. The struggle which I went through made my imagination stronger and that helped me in my work.

In the year 2004, you lost your father. After his demise, you looked after his security company in Pune for a while.

I faced several battles between 2002 and 2011. I appeared for army exams in Service Selection Board, Allahabad. I had cleared the written examination but got rejected later. My dad always encouraged me to do whatever I wished to do in life. When I was preparing for my army exams, he would wake me up at 5 o’clock in the morning and ask me to jog. After he passed away in 2004, I felt a void in my life.

While you were struggling and things were not working out, somebody recommended you to enrol yourself in piano classes. This led you to getting a meeting with a Bollywood producer.

Yes! The owner of the music academy I went to was a lady named Anita Salunkhe. She introduced me to her brother-in-law, Mr. Lucky Sharma, who happened to be a producer of Hindi films. Mr. Lucky Sharma and Mr. Manik Bedi owned a production house in Mumbai. At that time, they had released a film called ‘Padmashree Laloo Prasad Yadav’. They signed me for the film they were making next. The songs got recorded, I got paid but the film did not go on the floors. While I was disappointed, I also realized the universe wanted me to get back to the film industry. I restarted my journey in 2007. ‘Power’ (‘Aa Dekhen Zara’) and ‘Bombay Bombay’ (‘Striker’) were some of the first songs of mine which released. ‘Party On My Mind’ (‘Race 2’) was my first hit.

You have worked with Pritam on songs like ‘Party On My Mind’ (‘Race 2’) and ‘Utth Ja Ziddi Re’ (‘83’). How has been the experience of collaborating with him?

Pritam da is pure magic and madness. He is very passionate about everything he does. I wrote the mukhda of ‘Party On My Mind’ in 14-15 minutes. The mukhda got approved immediately. After that, I wrote an antara for the song. Pritam da did not like one word in the antara because of the way how it sounded. I remember the song was supposed to release on 26th November and we were working on it till 19 or 20th November. The song was shot already but he wanted the audio to be perfect. That is the kind of passion he has.

Your first collaboration with Sanjay Leela Bhansali was on ‘Mary Kom’, a film which he produced. After that, you worked with him on ‘Bajirao Mastani’.

Sanjay sir is in a league of his own. He lives and breathes cinema. He goes through the work being done in every department and ensures that everything is done perfectly. He goes by his conviction. By God’s grace, most of the songs I wrote for him were approved in the first go. Sometime, just a word or two had to be changed.

You have released a lot of music independently in the recent past.

The independent music space is growing. However, one often sees a lot of amateur content being released. In the west, independent songs are of very high quality. Whether it is the composition or the poetry used, artists work hard on every single department. They are much more polished than the kind of independent songs we come across here. A lot of the independent songs suffer from poor writing. When you listen to some of these songs, you feel the writer did not even have an idea about concepts like meter. This year, I will be releasing 24-25 songs independently. I have also collaborated with other artists in this space. Last year, I had curated the song ‘India India’ which was sung by Vishal Dadlani.

In an interview, you had stated that you do limited work by choice.

I have always wanted to operate like that. I believe the universe has given each of us a handful of resources or gifts and we have to be careful while using them. I am selective about my work and do not like working on too many projects. My priority has always been doing quality work. I am not chasing money. When I am gone, I would want people to remember my songs and feel that I was honest with my craft. The songs written by legends like Javed Akhtar saab and Gulzar saab have stood the test of time as they always wanted to give listeners something fresh to listen to. I am also a big fan of Amitabh Bhattacharya. I feel he is a blessed writer.

You have stated that you like to tell stories through your songs.

I feel that every song should tell a story. If a story is woven into a song, it works better. When you close your eyes while listening to a song, you should be able to see the visuals in your head. All the legendary lyricists would write songs like that. Their songs would take the story forward.

You directed a short film a while back. How did you get interested in filmmaking?

I am in the process of directing two feature films at the moment. During my struggling days, I would write a lot of stories. Now, I am trying to bring those stories alive on the screen. Whatever you do never goes to waste.  

What are you doing next?

This year, you will get to hear my songs in many films. I have written a retro party number for a film which shall release soon. I will be releasing a lot of songs independently. I am also doing some international collaborations this year. I am also looking forward to my directorial ventures.

On the stories behind his popular songs:

Ab Teri Baari – Mary Kom

I wrote four songs for ‘Mary Kom’, ‘Ziddi Dil’, ‘Adhure’, ‘Teri Baari’ and ‘Saudebaazi’. The songs I wrote for ‘Mary Kom’ were a reflection of my experiences in life. There was a point when I had almost given up in life. I thought nothing would come out of it. When you are about to give up, a voice comes from within and tell you to get up and try again. There is a line in the song which goes, “Ae parinde yun ab ke udaa kar tu, jaa jala suraj ko jaa ke aasmaan pe tu…”. We create our own destiny.  

Party On My Mind – Race 2

I was called to Pritam da’s studio to write ‘Allah Duhai Hai’, which was eventually written by Mayur Puri. After working on the song for two hours, I was leaving the studio. Just then, his manager asked me to write another song. I was in a fix as I had to travel to back to Pune. I had a pass and I had to catch a particular train. They didn’t know that I was commuting to Mumbai from Pune every day. I only had 20-25 minutes to work on the song, travel all the way to Dadar to catch a train to Pune. Pritam da made me listen to the tune. I asked him if we can use ‘party on my mind’ as the hook line. He said, “tera gaana hai, kuch bhi likh”. I wrote the song and went back to Pune. Once I reached home, I put my phone on silent mode and went to sleep. When I woke up, I saw 7-8 messages on my phone from Pritam da and his team. I was informed that the song has been approved and I had to attend a meeting in the evening. It was Saturday and I did not travel to Mumbai to during the weekend. I would have come but by the time, I would have reached Mumbai, the meeting would have been over. Pritam da was kind enough to reschedule the meeting on Sunday. ‘Party On My Mind’ emerged as my first hit song.

Gajanana – Bajirao Mastani

I am a devotee of Bappa and always felt a strong connection with him. After ‘Malhaari’ and ‘Fitoori’, this was the third song I wrote for Bajirao Mastani’. Initially, it was planned as a 45-second track that would be played in the film when Mastani is being attacked and aarti is playing in the background. For years, I wished to write a song on Bappa. When I got the opportunity to work on this track, I did not want to write a conventional Ganapati song. I had a discussion with my mom about this. Ganapati Bappa is referred by 108 names and each of the name has a special significance. I thought of writing the song around his different names. I wrote a mukhda and shared it with Shreyas. The next day, Shreyas called and told me that Sanjay sir really liked it and want us to create a full-fledged song.

Zindagi – Single/Aditya Narayan

We cracked this song pretty quickly. It is a beautiful song that talks about life. We experience different things in this journey called life. We should be open to the idea of experiencing different things and embrace each of them gracefully. All the successful people we look up to have reached where they are today because of the various experiences they had. I put my life experiences into this song.

Utth Ja Ziddi Re – ‘83

Kabir Khan and the rest of the team had liked my song ‘Ziddi Dil’ from ‘Mary Kom’ and wanted me to write something similar. Once Pritam da shared the tune with me, I wrote the lyrics quickly. I also wrote some rap. Kabir Khan was very happy with the way the song shaped up.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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