Theatre veteran, award-winning lyricist, and now filmmaker. Swanand Kirkire is a man on fire, says Anamika Chatterjee
AS A door-to-door salesman for Eureka Forbes vacuum cleaners, Swanand Kirkire could only have dreamt of winning a National Award. Recently, in an ultimate dream sequence, the 40-year-old Bollywood lyricist won his second National Award — this time for the song Behti Hawa Sa Tha Woh from the film 3 Idiots.Kirkire fulfilled yet another fantasy by working with AR Rahman on Endhiran’s Hindi version. He shares, “Most of the songs had already been shot. I had to write my lyrics in sync with them. Some day, I’d like to work with Rahman on a Hindi film too.”
Born to a Marathi family in Indore, Kirkire was drawn to theatre from an early age. He was the first child from his town to be admitted to the National School of Drama (NSD). The transition to becoming a lyricist was a natural progression for him, “I produced a play based on Bhagat Singh.Manju Singh, a Mumbai-based producer, was making a series on him for Doordarshan, and saw our play. She asked me if I’d like to write the series.” After moving to Mumbai, Kirkire found work as an assistant director with Sudhir Mishra on Calcutta Mail, Chameli and Hazaaron Khwaishen Aisi. In Hazaaron, he sang the now-famous Baanwra Mann for music director Shantanu Moitra. Subsequent collaborations with Moitra in Parineeta, Lage Raho Munnabhai and 3 Idiots made him hugely popular. Kirkire won his first National Award for the song Bande Mein Tha Dum from Lage Raho Munnabhai.
Kirkire is part of the new wave in Hindi cinema’s songwriting — the vanguard of Gulzar and Javed Akhtar have given way to the increasingly established trio of Prasoon Joshi, Irshad Kamil and Kirkire. “There was a romanticism, a poetry in older lyrics,” says Kirkire. “The present crop of lyricists is more realistic and says things up front instead of using poetic expressions.” Citing Munni Badnaam Huifrom Dabangg as an example, he points to a similar shift in dialogue writing — “As a society, we love smart lines. Films like Ishqiya and DevD click with audiences because of the dialogues.” As for his award-winning song Behti hawa, Kirkire was surprised on being chosen for this particular ditty — “I thought All izz well was a more likely candidate for a few national awards.” Lyricists like Sameer agree, “3 Idiots itself had better numbers. No one knows the basis on which the National Awards are given.” Lalit Pandey of Dabangg’s (in)famous Munni number says that though Kirkire’s talent is unquestionable, the jury’s choice of song remains a mystery.
‘I thought All izz well was a more likely candidate for a few National Awards,’ says Kirkire
Kirkire’s horizons are only growing with his talent. Currently working on a script for a film, his mentor, Sudhir Mishra is extremely optimistic about Kirkire’s potential to become a successful director — “He could become the next Vishal Bharadwaj. Swanand is a thespian with a sense of music — a great combination.” Currently taking a break from films to concentrate on his theatrical production Aao Saathi Sapna Dekhe (a musical based in Delhi’s Chandni Chowk). Kirkire sighs, “Theatre is like a holiday for me. People go to Singapore — I produce a play.”
Photo: MS Gopal