Interviews

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How Varun Grover shook off his corporate shackles and began his lyrical journey

His beginning

After graduating from IIT Benares in 2003, I worked with a software company and was earning a healthy package. But after a year, I realised that this was not my calling. So, in 2004, I began looking for work as a writer. I moved to Mumbai and wrote a few comedy shows. Then, one day, I met Anurag Kashyap, and life took an altogether different course.

Writing lyrics

After all this writing, I was still struggling to get proper work, when I started following Anurag Kashyap in his blog Passion For Cinema. I commented on one of his blogs, where I wrote, “I want to work with you.” After a few days, I got a call from him. When I met him, I took a song I had written for his film, No Smoking. But since the songs had already been finalised, my song wasn’t approved. But, now, Anurag knew I could write. Then came That Girl In Yellow Boots and I wrote the song Laddkhadaaya, but the music of that film never released so I doubt if anyone has heard the song. When I asked him if I could write for Gangs Of Wasseypur (GoW), he asked me to meet Sneha (Khanwalkar) to see if we could work together. We made Bhoos ke dhere… which Anurag liked a lot and the project happened.

Gangs Of Wasseypur journey

Anurag told me that the film was set in Bihar, revolved around the coal mafia and covered three generations. He said he wanted the songs to sync with that premise. Sneha had already been to Bihar to do some research for the film and this time she and I went back to do some more research. It was easy for me to write the lyrics because my wife is a Bihari and she used to correct my errors. I already knew the dialect.

When we went to Bihar, we went to see some nautanki muqablas, where I heard the song Jiya ho Bihar ke lala, jiya tu hajaar saala. They use this line to warm up the crowd. I have written the antara of this song. It has a crescendo of its own, which is fascinating to listen to.

Hunter took a long time. It was actually written by Sneha, who went to the Caribbean to do research on the Biharis who had migrated there in the 19th century. They have come up with chutney sounds and we had to capture the feel from the roots over there. Sneha didn’t have a song in mind when she went there and Hunter was the result of her meeting Vedesh Sokoo, who wrote the English lyrics and jammed with her to come up with Hunter. She came back and we inserted the Hindi lyrics, as it didn’t make sense to have only English lyrics in a Hindi movie. So we made it Hinglish.

Womaniya is a song that has won a lot of praise. Anurag wanted the song to be about a woman’s sexuality but he also wanted it to be subtle. We never expected this song to become a rage.

Yet to be noticed by the industry

I received a message from Swanand Kirkire, who liked my work. Apart from him, no one in the industry has said anything. But I have received a very positive response from the audience.

Future projects

After GoW, I haven’t signed anything. And I don’t want to write songs for the sake of writing. But in the future, I have Peddlers, Prague and Shlok Sharma’s Haramkhor.

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