In an industry which places its bets on blockbuster heroes, big budget location, and things that are frivolous, it’s really difficult to listen to your heart and do things your way. But, even in the glitz and glamour of the Bollywood industry lyricist, comedian, screenwriter Varun Grover treads differently. His body of work has grit—be it etching the character of Devi Pathak (portrayed by Richa Chadda) in Masaan, or conveying a message of love through the song Moh Moh Ke Dhaage…his creations speak to you, they connect. Looking at his anthologies we can’t help but wonder, “How is he creating such noticeable pieces of work in such an environment?” Then he echoes, “The market will take care of itself if I just stay true to my craft.” After that, things start to make sense.
Further, Grover was recently part of a project (along with Songdew.com) called Gaana Banana with Varun Grover—a contest where bands and singer-songwriters had to experiment and interpret his poem Beete Dino Ke Geet and turn it into a catchy number. And the result was something that had depth and character.
We catch up with Grover who tells us more about the collaboration with singer Krishna Chetan, the process, why he chose his poem for the contest, and more.
Let’s start from the beginning, Gaana Banana with Varun Grover started as a contest, how and why did you say yes to a project like this?
I liked the original idea that lyrics come first and then a composer interprets it. For me, it was a novel experience as mostly in Hindi films, the music comes first and I have to write my lines on the melody. Also, Songdew gave me the freedom to select my own poetry and that was an attraction too.
Beete Dino Ke Geet was the poem you selected for the collaboration, any reason why? The meaning behind the lyric of Beete Dino Ke Geet?
I had written this ghazal for myself—just indulging in nostalgia and wondering where the time has gone. It is a bit of a melancholic ghazal about mid-life crisis and I thought it’d be a nice clutter-breaker if it’s composed. The meaning of the song revolves around ruing the loss of innocence and the sharp realisation that the world is just a maya.
And I loved what Krishna Chetan managed to do with the track. His composition gives the lyrics a haunting quality— just what it needed.
Would you like to do something like this in the future too?
I’d be glad to collaborate again on a similar project.
How has the job of a lyricist changed in 2017—with the demand for commercial songs and films on the rise, how do you find your footing while working on something commercial, yet creating something without compromise?
For me, the focus is always on creating something personal—something that I find original, refreshing and exciting. The market will take care of itself if I just stay true to my craft. I don’t believe I’ve compromised on any lyrics yet and I don’t think it’s even difficult to stay honest.
Could you tell us a little about your creative process while working on a project?
My creative process, much like all artists, is too abstract for even myself to put down on paper. The only decipherable part of any creative process is the ‘dicipline’ it involves. And that’s all I can share.
You have written scripts for television shows and films how similar or different are they in terms of idea direction and building a narrative?
Every medium is different just like every kitchen is different—the knives and skillets and oils and vibe it has—but a chef has got to do what a chef has got to do—cook. So for me, it’s just a difference in the conditions provided to me, my job is still the same—to write!
A piece of work (of yours) that is close to your heart?
Kaala Rey from Gangs of Wasseypur 2, Man Kasturi from Masaan, and Moh Moh Ke Dhaage from Dum Laga Ke Haisha.
Where does comedy fit in your journey as an artist?
Comedy provides me with a direct connect with the audience, something writing doesn’t. I love doing it mainly because of the instant feedback it gives and the outlet I get to speak my mind in the funniest way possible. Making people laugh is a great high!
Plans for the future?
Future planning is a myth I have gone beyond now, thankfully.
Buy the track here.
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