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“It was wonderful collaborating with Kunal Ganjawala and Ishwar Singh on Naina Chhalke” – Mehboob

Mehboob acquired legendary status by writing immortal songs for films like ‘Rangeela’, ‘Bombay’, ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’, ‘Doli Saja Ke Rakhna’, ‘Tujhe Meri Kasam’, ‘Uuf Kya Jaadoo Mohabbat Hai..!’ and ‘Yuva’ and non-film albums like ‘Maa Tujhe Salaam’, ‘Pal’, ‘Kal Raat’ and ‘Piya Basanti…Again’. While health issues kept the lyricist away from cinema for a while, he recently got back to films with the Tiger Shroff – Tara Sutaria starrer ‘Heropanti 2’ and Mani Ratnam’s epic saga ‘Ponniyin Selvan: I’.

The lyricist recently had a new release in the form of ‘Naina Chhalke’. The song, which happens to be a romantic ditty, has been composed by Ishwar Kumar and sung by Kunal Ganjawala.

You had worked with Kunal Ganjawala in the past on the Ahmed Khan directed ‘Lakeer’ and ‘School Chalein Hum’, an iconic song which was commissioned by the Government of India for creating awareness around the importance of education. With ‘Naina Chhalke’, Kunal and you collaborated on a project after a long time.

I have known Kunal since the last 30 years. He is one of the finest singers we have in our country. It was wonderful collaborating with Kunal Ganjawala and Ishwar Singh on ‘Naina Chhalke’. I have always enjoyed the experience of working with Kunal. Though we have been in touch all these years, it’s true that we worked on a project after a long time. In the professional space, things happen when they are meant to happen. When we finished working on the track, Ishwar thought about getting a new singer on board. When I suggested Kunal’s name to him, he wondered if Kunal would agree to sing the track as he is a relatively new composer. I assured Ishwar by telling him that Kunal is like a younger brother to me and he would be more than happy to sing the song. When I called Kunal, he was in Bengaluru and told me that he would me in four days. When he heard the track, he really liked it and created magic with his voice.

While Kunal and you have several years of experience behind you, Ishwar Kumar is a relatively new composer.

Ishwar has done some incredible work in the advertising space. We had first worked on the Govinda starrer ‘Rangeela Raja’ a couple of years back. He is a very talented composer and will go a long way. Bigivo Music, the music label which has released ‘Naina Chhalke, is also owned by Ishwar. I think it’s great that today artists have the freedom to release their music without being dependent on any mainstream label. You own your music and do not have to go through any interferences.

Gagar mann ki bhar gayi tori preet se, umariya udd chali toot ke harr reet se…”, we haven’t such heard such lyrics in a long time.

The lyrics are mostly written in Purabi boli. We wanted to offer something different to the listeners through this song. While such language was used a lot in Hindi songs a couple of decades ago, it has taken a backseat now. I believe the audience is ready for all kinds of poetry and music and as artists, it is our duty to offer them some variety.

Apart from being a prolific film lyricist, you were also an active part of the Indipop scene when it was at its peak. From KK to A Band of Boys, you penned songs for several artists who were coming out with independent music back then. That was a time when one would see full-fledged albums being released. Now, artists mostly release singles. How do you look at this change?

We have to keep adapting ourselves to the changing times. Whether albums release or singles release, we should celebrate the fact that artists are churning out independent music regularly. One of the best things about making independent music is that you get complete creative freedom. Anand Bakshi saab himself used to say, “waqt ke saath badalna zaroori hota hai” (“it is important to change yourself with the times”). Back then, we would go to a music store to buy cassettes. Now, you can play a song instantly from the internet. A lot of things have changed.

What are you doing next?

I have composed a ghazal for a beautiful film called ‘Safed’ which should release soon. I am working on a couple of other projects which shall be announced soon.

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