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‘My journey is to find authentic voice’ Prasoon Joshi


Aplak Niharna Soundarya ko,

Anubhuti ka Dhyotak Ban Jata Hai,

Aplak hi ho Jata Hai Manushya

Jab Karta Hai Alingan Mrityu Ka,

Ab Kaun si Anubhati Hoti Hai Use

Jis se Woh Kabhi Nahin Laut-ta

Sharing one of his first poems with audiences, noted lyricist, screenwriter and poet, Prasoon Joshi said that poetry is his ‘soul’.

“Relationship with a language is important for a poet,” Joshi observed, adding that today poets are exposed to smaller vocabulary as compared to the poets of the past. “The nuances of the language helps a poet to express feelings meticulously,” he pointed out. “This is the exact reason why we need to save our language, enrich it, and prevent it from shrinking.”

Joshi giving a masterclass on ‘Lyrical Imagination Unleashed’, at the ongoing IFFI said that Indians are fortunate to have great poets in the past – Sahir Ludhianvi, Kaifi Azmi, Shailendra, Neeraj – who experimented and wrote lyrics for films, and elevated the quality of film songs. “It’s as if philosophy is being sung,” he maintained, noting that songs like ‘Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli Haye’ narrate the philosophy of life.

Joshi who spent his earliest years in Almora then part of Uttar Pradesh said: “Saying that only nature plays a role in what one writes would be unfair to people, who are not a part of the natural surroundings. It’s the human mind which creates a narrative around it, and that narrative is personal to the writer.”

Speaking further Joshi lamented that people rarely go out and buy books of a new poet. He also said that he was adamant about writing poetry and did not ask anyone to fund his poetry.

Speaking about the new generation poets he said he can sense their restlessness due to societal and familial pressure. “It’s unfair to keep them in limbo, in suspension,” he added, pointing out, “There is something called liminal space in literature – the most fertile space and the new poets should explore the realities in this space; they have to look for authentic voice and that’s not easy.”

When he arrived in the film industry, he did not have the required vocabulary for film songs, and carried very different metaphors reflecting folk and literary background. When he did write film songs, people liked their freshness. “My journey is to find authentic voice,” he stressed.

Joshi also said that every poet initially falls into the trap of defined genres and starts buying a set of emotions – melancholism, romanticism, etc – and becomes pre-conceived. “I would say that today we are not trying enough, but are trying to make everything very palatable for ourselves,” he observed, maintaining that folk music from Goa or Rajasthan has come from the culture of the respective land, but we are making it suit our tastes through experiments like fusion.

Speaking about his song ‘Tujhe Sab Pata Hai Maa’ from the film ‘Taare Zamin Par’, he said that he received letters from many fathers stating that they are not as bad as the particular song made them appear. “And then I wrote a poem to say that it was not so,” he added, mentioning that although film songs are written for the situation, it is a personal journey for the poet, who constantly explores the emotions he encounters.

Replying to a question he said the best song is one which cannot be deciphered as to whether the song was written first or the tune composed first. “It’s because the song and the tune need to complement each other perfectly,” he observed, informing that the song ‘Thodi si dhool Meri dharti ki Mere Watan Ki’ for the film ‘Rang de Basanti’ was written by him as a recipe for preparing the colour ‘Basanti’, and A R Rahman composed it later.

Answering another question the lyricist said that some words like ‘Masakali’ have no meaning as such, but are used because there is some musicality to the sound of such words. “However, in ‘Delhi 6’ where this word is used in a song, we justified the word by naming a pigeon after it,” he noted.


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