LAHORE: The lyrical value of a song has the potential to work miracles for how it resonates with the listeners. In many instances, films on both sides of the border have gained recognition due to their soundtrack more than storyline. Such has been the impact of relatable lyrics paired with well-orchestrated music. Lollywood classics Akele Na Jaana and Koko Koreena, for instance, became magnum opus, popularising the film Armaan (1996). But over the time, lyrics and lyricists has been placed on the back burner in the local film industry. Renowned lyricist Altaf Bajwa, who has been part of the industry for almost two decades, laments that despite the revival of film, lyricists remain both underpaid and underutilised.
“The real tragedy is that amateur filmmakers these days aren’t willing to pay even Rs10,000 to renowned lyricists and get services of those who don’t know anything about literature or writing,” says Bajwa of Aiwein Rusya Na Kar fame.
Bajwa is among the top lyricists in the country and is mainly known for his bold wordings. He has written almost 3,000 songs over the span of his career. He rose to fame with popular Punjabi songs, such as Kehndi Hai Barsaat Wey. Besides Naseebo Laal and Akram Rahi, Indian singer Sukhwinder Singh has lent voice to his lyrics.
Referring to the importance of songwriters in India, he said they’re paid in millions for their works. “How can we write good songs when we aren’t getting good money? It’s due to the commitment of our writers that they’re part of the industry even in these trying times.” He further says, ““Even now, Bollywood relies on lyrics as they contribute to the film’s popularity.”
With a high emotive quotient, the song’s lyrics offer an additional dimension to a film. “There are still people who want to listen to good songs. I’ve always written in accordance with our socio-cultural issues, but most people aren’t interested in knowing more about these things. As compared to Pakistan, he feels the situation is better in India due to relatively widespread ideals of liberalism and education, which is why “they have the courage to see the realities.”
Bajwa feels the disregard for songwriters is why the industry is deprived of good music these days. “Film producers, directors, music directors and songwriters together are the key to success of a film. There was a time when team-work mattered. But now, we’ve forgotten the role of songwriters,” he notes. The lyricist holds that songs were the main reason for the success of many Pakistani films in the past. “Our elders still remember old songs and that’s because lyricists played an important in that period.”
Owing to financial woes lyricists have had to face, Bajwa is venturing into filmmaking with his debut film Wah Mola. “Although the film industry’s revival has begun, songwriters have been suffering to an extent that they’re forced to choose alternate professions for their survival,” he says. The film has been written and directed by Bajwa.
Commenting on why the status of the local film industry plummeted, he states, “The crisis of the industry began when gangsters started making films, as they don’t have any concern with the quality or success of the film. They only adopt the profession for their own entertainment.” He adds, “Wah Mola is also an effort to contribute to the growth of cinema in the country.”
Express Tribune, “Where lyrics have no lustre ,” in Express Tribune, June 18, 2015. Accessed on June 19, 2015, at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/905867/where-lyrics-have-no-lustre/
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