Original songs should remain untouched, says lyricist Shellee

- May 4, 2024
| By : Idrees Bukhtiyar |

The lyricist, who has written songs for Dev D, Udta Punjab and Manmarziyan, feels that the practice of adding lyrics to the original tracks is disrespectful

APPRECIATION: Shellee has spoken about AR Rahman in glowing terms

Bollywood lyricist Shailender Singh Sodhi, popularly known as Shellee, emphasised the importance of preserving originality of songs in Bollywood. He expressed his stance against alterations to original compositions, highlighting the disrespect it shows towards the integrity of the music. 

“There should be no tinkering with any original song. Nowadays we see additional lyrics being added to a song, which is disrespectful. It would be good if the originality of the song remains intact. If talented people sit down, they can create an amazing original song,” said Shellee.

Shellee, who has written songs for film Pippa that stars Ishaan Khatter and Mrunal Thakur, says it was great working with musician AR Rahman.

“It was a beautiful experience to work with AR Rahman Sahab. I worked with him on two projects earlier, but they were small ones. This album was big and means a lot to me,” said Shellee, who has also written songs for films like Dev D, Shahid, Udta Punjab, Manmarziyaan, Jersey, Gulmohar, among others.

“My friend Ravinder Randhawa was writing the film Pippa, and he put my name forward for writing the lyrics of the song. That’s how I got this offer,” he said.

When asked about working on the Manoj Bajpayee-starrer Gulmohar (2023), he called it a good opportunity. 

“We usually call the big films those where we have put a huge amount of money, but big films can also be small budget films, depending on how beautifully you are telling a story. Content-wise, Gulmohar was a good film, and with the best direction,” the lyricist told Patriot.

Shellee, who has penned hit numbers like Pardesi, Da Da Dasse, Daryaa, Sachchi Mohabbat, Chitta Ve, Maiyya Mainu, and Mai Parwaana, among others, says that the phrase ‘personal favourite’ is out of his dictionary.

“I don’t have any personal favourite song, singer, lyricist, or composer because everyone is doing their best. I am beyond the boundaries of the phrase ‘personal favourite’. It is very tough to judge someone,” he said.

Shellee moved to Mumbai three decades ago to assist lyricist Gulzar. 

“But that didn’t happen. I met Gulzar Sahab again, but things didn’t work out. Then I thought of focussing on my survival in Mumbai, and started taking up different projects,” he says.

Shellee believes that the film Dev D has been a game-changer in his career.

“It was not only for me but also for those who have listened to its music. The music of this film is very different, and we didn’t have the best quality of music then. The film has left an impact on everyone,” said Shellee.

Describing his collaborations with filmmakers Anurag Kashyap and Amit Trivedi as a symbiotic relationship, Shellee highlights the comfort and understanding he shares with them since their collaboration on Dev D.

Maintaining ties with Delhi, Shellee reminisces about his childhood visits and acknowledges the city’s beauty.

“First, I used to visit Delhi during my childhood days with my mother as my maternal aunt used to live in Hari Nagar. Now, I have friends there, and I keep visiting them. I find the place beautiful,” he told Patriot.

While emphasising the significance of writers and lyricists adapting to shifting perspectives and refining their skills, he asserts that every era will produce talented writers. 

“One simply needs to embrace new understandings, particularly about the emerging generation. I believe writers and lyricists should continually update themselves and refine their craft,” said Shellee, whose father late Himmat Singh Sodhi has also been a poet and writer.

The lyricist of Coke Studio’s Chaudhary song said that people want him to come out with his poetry work in the public domain now. 

“If I am known as a lyricist, that is good because I am known for my work. But my poetry has reached only a select audience so far. I am being told to come up with poetry books or narrate my poetry on Instagram,” he said, before adding that, “I will now think over it”.