A Peek Into the Bawra Mann of Swanand Kirkire
Lyricist, playwright, screenwriter, actor, director, singer, poet and author — Swanand Kirkire wears many a hat. The man who won the hearts of millions with compositions like Bande mein tha dum Vande Mataram from Lage Raho Munna Bhai, Bawra mann from Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi and Raat hamari toh from Parineeta mesmerised the virtual audience at a multi-city Kalam session with his rich baritone and cool charisma. The two-time National Award-winning lyricist was in conversation with actress and folk-pop singer Ila Arun. The two shared their experience of working together in the recent Ghoomketu. Ehsaas woman and honorary convener, Rajasthan and central India affairs of Prabha Khaitan Foundation, Apra Kuchhal, delivered the welcome address. A student of the National School of Drama (NSD), Kirkire confessed that he was the happiest when doing theatre. Talking about the future of theatre post COVID-19, he expressed his readiness to perform on the streets to keep the art alive. The drama school, where Kirkire studied theatre direction, allowed him a lot of exposure besides helping him make the most of his spontaneity and skill. It was in one dark corner of the NSD campus, Kirkire's favourite spot, that many of his popular and award-winning songs, including Raat hamari toh, were penned. Kirkire told the audience the behind-the-scenes stories of many of his songs — how the soulful Bawra mann was written from personal experience while he was new to Mumbai and shared with a few friends before actor Kay Kay Menon wanted to include it in the film. Kirkire confessed that he had been apprehensive when filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani wanted the song Bande mein tha dum to reflect the character of Munnabhai but it eventually led to the "magic moment" as the song not only topped charts but also fetched him a National Award. Discussing his poetry collection Aapkamai, Kirkire said "poems have their own pace (kavita ki apni marzi hoti hai)". The lyricist who draws inspiration from Gulzar and Sahir Ludhianvi felt that poetry had evolved over time and so had grammar so that the new generation uses a more contemporary language. For Kirkire, though, poetry is more about following the heart than sticking to perfect grammar. Speaking about Marathi cinema, Kirkire said its literary richness had not been diluted by commercialisation and so the lekhak (writer) remained more significant than the actor and content was still the hero, unlike in Bollywood where movies were made keeping the actor in mind. "Log entertainment ke bhukhe hai (people are hungry for entertainment)," said Kirkire, explaining the rise of OTT (over-the-top) platforms. The singer acknowledged that OTT technology was indeed a boon, but rued that it also diluted real talent, especially in the music industry where voice texture, sur (tune) and singing errors can be easily covered up by editing. The session drew to a close with Kirkire belting out a few favourite songs. "Interacting with Swanand was an enriching experience. Lag raha tha dil se baatein ho rahi hain (it felt like our hearts were conversing). I appreciate the initiative taken by the Foundation to organise such events, adding positivity during this time," Arun said.