He has a way with words, at least that’s what Derek Bose had to say when he wrote the biography of acclaimed lyricist Sameer Anjaan way back in 2007. That this weaver of words would continue to go strong and enter the Guinness Book of Records in 2016 as the most prolific lyricist of Bollywood who only shows his passion and dedication towards his work.
One of the few lyricists to have worked with three generations of filmmakers and musicians, Sameer might have ruled the 90’s with romantic numbers in hit films like Aashiqui and Dil but he still continues to hold his ground despite the entry of many new players over the years. From Nazar ke Saamne, Party Abhi Baaki Hai to Mora Piya Moh Se Bolat Naahi and Anarkali Disco Chali, Sameer not only has to his credit the maximum number of film songs; he has also given an enviable variety to his music composers and fans. In a conversation with MCL at KLF 2016, he talks about his journey. Excerpts:
Was it a conscious decision to quit a lucrative banking job to become a lyricist?
Actually, my father was not too keen that I join film industry and become a lyricist. He was against the profession I had chosen. He wanted me to take up any other job but this.
However, my poetry comes from my father. But for some reasons he didn’t want me to join the film industry. Despite the resistance, I was slowly developing a passion for poetry and with God’s grace I could see a marked growth in my poetry. I had formed our own group and started going to places like kavi sammelans, radio stations and other places that existed back then. But, during this period, I was searching for a job and I managed to get one with Central Bank of India. Two days into the job, I realised that choosing to do something when your heart was in something else, can never give you success. I decided to quit my job immediately and left for Mumbai the next morning with Rs 500 in my pocket (that I had borrowed from my mother). Then started my journey to becoming what I am today.
Poetry has different meanings to different people. What does it mean to you?
Poetry to me, is an honest expression of what I feel about life and my experiences. You will also not find me writing something that I haven’t experienced. I cannot fake emotions in my poems. Poetry is an expression of emotions faced in life. So how can I pretend?
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Your lyrics have always brought out emotions beautifully. Where does all the inspiration come from?
Nothing in particular. Anything can inspire if you only realise it. The story line however, is the biggest source of inspiration where the characters in the script dictate the emotions. So when the character’s emotions combine with some real life incidents or experiences; that is where I derive my motivation from.
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Since you have a Guinness World Record to your name for penning down the most number of songs, how long do you take to write each song?
I remember how I sat down to write a song with a music director named Navin sitting next to me. He kept looking at the clock. I wondered what he was up to. Fifteen minutes later he told me, “Panditji, 15 minutes are over.” I did not understand but he explained that I had taken only 15 minutes to write a song!
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But it mostly depends on the situation and the mood. It is definitely difficult to be a lyricist as I have to always write something that others will like and appreciate.