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Interviews |  08 Nov 2018 12:00 |  By RnMTeam

Unlike writing poetry, fiction, with lyrics you have to imagine the musical mood, the visuals and sometimes the vocalist’s gender and style: Protiqe Mojoomdar

MUMBAI: “What attracted me most towards the medium over the years, is the challenge that, unlike writing poetry or fiction which leave the mood of your creation to the imagination of the reader, with lyrics, you have to imagine the musical mood, the visual and sometimes the vocalist’s gender/style while writing,” says lyricist and music composer Protiqe Mojoomdar while revealing, what led him to choose the profession of lyricist and music composer.

What led you to choose the career of lyricist and a composer? Did you always aspire to become one?

It’s true and also a little funny as I always wanted to become a songwriter and had started writing fiction, poetry and shayari as well as lyrics from my eighth grade. And, by the time I finished high school, I had a SAARC award, a National Short Story Contest award and a eighth page Novella published in Target/Teens Today (a Living media magazine for teens). But at the same time, a growing interest in classical, film and western music was inculcated, due to the culture of sitting and listening to songs and radio with family. I started recording songs as lyrics that I would like, in a little diary neatly demarcated and labelled by Lyricists/Shayars like Gulzaar, Kaifi, Majrooh and Sahir! Soon these scribblings started developing into ideas, which I would jot down, at school, at home and at tuitions! Some of them became songs with verses and chorus (mukhda/antara), mostly in the languages, I followed most – Hindi/English

>Song-writing in the global context includes composing a melody too. Lyrics writing is also like composing in a way, and therefore all my initial work was written to a certain melody and rhythm, which I discovered much later in 2000 when I co-wrote my first single (actually India’s first single as it was touted by Archies Music) for Euphoria.. an anthem called Mantra 

Watch ‘Mantra’ video here

Can you take us through your journey so far in brief?

I grew up with the conventional motive of becoming an Engineer/doctor but my creative writing streaks had always been encouraged. Once at Hansraj College in Delhi, I was involved in theatre and also street theatre and got and opportunity to write and compose in both these mediums – for instance in Miranda House’s production of Jayshankar Prasad’s Dhruvswamini, the NSD director Pradeep Vernekar, picked up my skills during rehearsals and made me the Music Supervisor and Designer of the Period Drama.

After that, I landed up in Advertising (Delhi) and soon became the favourite writer of advertising jingles and anthems at my agencies like Mudra, JWT, Publicis and TBWA. I grew a Band with a group of musicians in Delhi as well called Anjuri and later met my compatriot Sam Ghatraj and started the band A Boat. We we used to perform and record originals written by me, way back in 2006.

One song from BHH, Uhe Batiya by Shankar Mahadevan gave my first Bollywood music nomination for seventh Mirchi Music Awards in 2014, and also paved the way for our recent collaboration, where I did an entire album with Shankar Ehsaan Loy, in Nila’s Halkaa!  Another film song really close to my heart is Mrs Scooter’s song by Harshdeep Kaur – Saiyaan Huye Faraar. You will find this film on Amazon Prime, and it’s the bittersweet story of a young widow played beautifully by Anjali Patil.

How different is composing for jingles, Cricket anthem, movie song and an independent single? Which is more challenging?

Well, jingles came naturally to me, as I have advertising grey cells owing to my training and profession. It was just a matter of fitting my song writing techniques I had practised since childhood, into a brand thought and expressing poetically, what I was expressing anyways in my presentations! It’s a fun training ground for a lyricist as you are allowed to play with your words and thoughts freely, and come up with novel thoughts or taglines through your songs. Anthems happened to me also through advertising – the first one was at the agency JWT, for the prestigious PHL (Premier Hockey League) on ESPN. Writing for films is the most challenging though, as you need to carry a whole scene or the theme of the film, and sometimes a whole section of the story on the shoulders of your song, and you can’t miss a beat of the film’s story and need to understand the mood as well. While writing for films, you also need to foreshadow what is about to happen in the film sometimes. And most importantly, as I learnt from working with Shankar Ehsaan Loy, we need to also leave behind enough for the song to work as just an audio bug, only then can it be played forever and ever.

How did you get a Bollywood break?

I was working with Papon for quite some time, writing jingles and also composing with him in Delhi. In 2010, Papon called me up saying he’s doing a Hindi film song, and he wanted me to write for a melody he had composed already. He introduced me to Nila Madhab Panda and I was given all of two days to write it, as the album was awaiting release by T Series. We finally collaborated on his first Hindi album that was released by Times Music much later in 2011 and won the GIMA as well. Main Chalta Hi Raha and Ankhee were the songs I wrote for him.

You have composed songs for two feature films, 'I Am Kalam' (2011) and 'Jalpari – The Desert Mermaid’. Can you tell us about them?

I have only written lyrics for the theme songs, (not composed music) for these movies. Both these songs had the same job – to hold aloft the thematic content of the films without talking about the story or any situation. Both coincidentally were about the dream of a child wanting to break through social barriers.

Zindagi Aisi Waisi (I am Kalam) comes from a very special place in a young boy’s heart, who in spite of his current situation as a Dhaba assistant – doesn’t want to restrict himself and has dreams that are far away from his reach. The song is about his inner inspiration that tells him ‘Suni suni dhun-si na ho/ Dekhi chhuyi jaisi na ho/Mili agar, zindagi aisi waisi na ho’ which according to director Nila Madhab, aptly captured his journey in the movie and beyond. Of course it helps that Papon composed and sang it with so much heart that it reached a crazy anthemic level. Both started out as lyrics first, and were composed later by the music directors, so pretty organic compositions.

Neeli Neeli Geeli Geeli Duniya of Japlari, The Desert Mermaid has been the most challenging and by far the most evocative brief I have ever worked on. I was working with Midival Punditz in their Delhi studios, on one of Karsh Kale’s albums ‘Cinema’ at that time. And both the director and they came up with my name when discussing this song! This was the second time I was called by Mr Panda, and I had just written the I am Kalam song, which he had liked. It was almost as if he wanted to test what he had found once, and to make sure his find had indeed been successful.

You aim to make meaningful music and content. Can you elaborate on the same?

I’d just like to put in one word here, and that is – we have a responsibility as creators of art, and art is nothing if it’s not original, thought provoking and powerful. For every little piece for whatever brief given and for whichever medium, we need ‘meaning’ to reflect in all our work because what we leave on the wall is a writing that will be forever, and it’ll have our name on it – we shall be called out for generations to come. Nothing has the power to bring a change in behaviour or thought like art can, so we need to handle our talent with care.

What is your take on the current trend of recreations? Do you support or are against it and why?

I don’t understand what is achieved through recreations for listeners, except bringing back memories of a lot of 80s-90s kids like us, in more contemporary formats. It’s not a genre, nor does it benefit artistes who want to create original content. Recreations required for a film’s tone or to convey a particular message of that period are obviously woven into the film’s fabric, and are therefore required.

What is your take on the independent music scene in India today?

.I come from the Indie scene myself, and I am part of forums like Artist Aloud that Hungama has so thoughtfully created. I have also been part of Leslie Lewis’ albums, who was the king of this genre and had launched so many talents including Suneeta Rao and KK. But more needs to be done, we need more Euphoria’s and Indian Ocean’s and Alisha Chinai’s from this generation! I think Independent music needs to grow and become stronger!