Writing it right
"Sameer - A Way With Words" penned by Derek Bose has just hit the stands. RANA SIDDIQUI finds out from Sameer the ups and downs of his life
STEPPING AHEAD Despite stupendous success, Sameer retains a low profile
His real name is Rajan, something that is almost forgotten by even his own folks. He could not sustain his interest in mathematics during his schooldays at Odar, a remote village on the outskirts of Banaras. Still, he had to deal with numbers in his M.Com from Banaras Hindu University. If he skipped his maths and English classes at school for music sessions, he chucked his lucrative job as a Central Bank of India officer merely five days after joining. It was considered a suicidal step that got him brickbats from his kith and kin. It was this response that triggered in him the desire to prove himself as a lyricist in filmdom.
Meet Sameer, Bollywood's reigning lyricist ,who has to his credit hit films like Ashiqui, Dil, Sajan, Raaz, Tere Naam, Dhadkan, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Raja Hundustani, Ghulam and many more. He has penned around 3000 songs in 532 Hindi films and 134 songs in 23 regional films, including Bhojpuri and Marathi.
How Sameer, son of the illustrious lyricist Anjaan, had to struggle in Mumbai without letting his father know, how he ran to marry his ladylove after establishing himself, only to find that she had died of cholera, how his first earnings, which he wanted to give to his mother, got stolen, how he was thrown out of established music composers' offices, and other moving episodes find space in "Sameer - A Way with Words". Brought out by Gayatri Publications, it is arguably the first such coffee table book on a lyricist, with impressive pictures and an index of his songs. It flows lyrically from the pen of Derek Bose.
Though Sameer still doesn't enjoy a reputation for penning songs of literary merit, he is popular for his ability to adjust the lyrics to any given tune. Says Sameer, "There is a difference between a poet and a lyricist.
A poet writes what he wants, but a lyricist has to write what the captain of the film wants.
A lyricist writes within the given boundaries. Those who cannot meet this challenge, criticise lyricists. I had an argument with Kaifi Azmi Sahab once. He said that tuning first feels like cutting one's body into pieces and then fixing it up. I said writings songs to a tune is like picking words with time and reason."
Sameer, who once wrote beautiful lines like "Kaun kehta hai aasman main chhed ho nahin sakta, aik pathhar to tabiyat se uchalo yaaron", does regret that poetry is missing from songs, but he doesn't call it a compromise. "I call it upgrading. For soul satisfaction, I still compose my own poems separately. I may soon come out with a book of poems."
Now a happily married man with three grown-up children, Sameer has one more aim: "To fight for the rights of lyrists in the film industry".
He sighs, "There is no organised system in Bollywood. Lyricists are the least paid and understated `commodities' in Bollywood. There exists no copyright or agreement system, no refund of payment if someone signs us up and then shows us the door after a change of heart. But now I am forming a group for a dignified status in filmdom, which Javed Akhtar sahab is heading."
Letters in the right spirit from the wordsmith?
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