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Interviews |  25 Sep 2015 18:07 |  By RnMTeam

Mayur Puri: Writers still do not get enough respect

From beginning his journey in Bollywood as an assistant director to becoming one of the most prominent names in tinsel town, Mayur Puri has certainly come a long way. He first became a household name after writing the Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone starrer, ‘Om Shanti Om’, and is also credited for writing a number of beautiful tracks like ‘Teri Ore’, ‘Bezubaan’ and several others. And now, Puri has set his sights on directing a full length feature film. 

In a lucid interview with Radioandmusic.com, he talks about his childhood, theatre and much more.

Excerpts:  

Childhood

Until the age 11, I lived in a town called Mehsana, a small place then. During the 1980s, people had a lot of time on their hands, unlike today. We would play Holi for a week, and Sankrant would be celebrated for 15 days. All I mean is that I have grown up staying connected to the soil. But cinema was something I was always exposed to. Every Sunday we would go all the way to Ahmedabad, which is 60 kms from Mehsana, to watch a film. I spent the rest of my childhood in Ahmedabad, and since high school I have done plays and television serials in Ahmedabad. When I told my parents about my plans to come to Mumbai to become a director, they were upset because they thought there was no future in Mumbai. I actually ran away from home so I could fulfill my passion.

Journey in Bollywood

I came to Mumbai from Ahmedabad in 1999, and it has been a decade since I became a lyricist. Since I came here to become a director, I immediately got work as Sanjay Gadhvi’s assistant for the film ‘Tere Liye’. He was aware that I had worked in Ahmedabad, so he asked me to write the script for the film ‘Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai’, instead of giving me a junior position. With ‘Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai’, I made my debut as a screenplay writer. I was also good friends with Pritam and Jeet Gannguli, and at that time helped them with dummy lyrics for presentations, which somehow got approved. Pritam always asked me to write songs, but I never took it seriously. It was after my role as associate director for ‘Dhoom’, I left Yash Raj Films to explore a little, and get out of my comfort zone. This decision brought me back to square one, and I had to restart my life. By early 2005 I ran out of all the little savings I had. That was when Pritam asked me to write lyrics, and since I no longer worked for Yash Raj, I had all the time in the world. I made my debut as lyricist after writing lyrics for ‘Chocolate’, and since then, I have always got offers.

Experience of theatre in films

Theatre gives you an education and makes you aware of elements that go into making a project. It disciplines you, and trains you to work with different people. You could be the greatest actor, but if the backstage person does not give you right thing at right time, then your acting does not hold much value. Theatre teaches you that every person on the set is important, and same goes for films.

Direction: My passion

I want to direct a full length feature film, which I have never done before, but I am waiting for the right project. I believe that you should work with a producer who shares your vision.

Stand on Copyright

I feel that the respect for writers is diminishing day by day, and I think audiences are partly responsible for this. Unlike today, posters used to have the names of directors, producers, writers, lyricists and composers. Today, however, people hardly bother. Even RJs do not bother to name lyricists, which used to happen earlier.

Coming to the subject of royalties, a lot of producers and listeners think that we (lyricists) claim extra money as royalties, which is really not the case. The more you listen to a song, the more entertained you get. I find it sad that people prefer not to spend money on downloading the song, but will spend hundreds and thousands on salons.

Producers feel that they are paying royalties straight from their pockets, which is incorrect. When I write a song for you, I give my rights to you, so that you can use it in your film as many times the film is played. But when that song is played at pubs and various other places, I believe users need to pay royalties for it. Producers do not even have to spend a penny. In fact, they get 50 per cent of the money, while composers and lyricists get 25 per cent. Now producers want to take even that 25 per cent away.

Writers are not paid enough and royalties are minimal. 

Concept of multi lyricists

I think producers are insecure, and doubt whether or not lyricists will be able to deliver five and six songs. There have been times where lyricists have done 100 films, and yet have delivered tracks on time. I really do not understand the logic of this concept. It is like shooting half the film with Salman Khan and asking Shah Rukh Khan to play the same role in the other half of the film. But at the end of the day, it is the decision of the producer.

Upcoming single

Whatever work I did, it has always been for films. But when Sony Music called me up a couple of months ago, they told me about this non-film project. I have written four songs for Sony, out of which the first track will release on 25th September. It is sung by Arjun Kanungo with the rap done by Badshah, and we have collaborated with a couple of composers from Sweden. Working with Arjun was fun as he very sincere and works really hard. ‘Baki Baatein Pene Baad’  is my hundredth release, which is written in a truly collaborative manner with inputs from each and every member, and you will see Badshah in a complete new avatar.

New beginnings

2016 will be a landmark year for me in many ways because a lot of good things are expected to happen. Post ‘Happy New Year’, I have been very choosy about films I have worked on. I have taken up work that has appealed to me the most. I am really looking forward to what will come with the new year.

Games