Writing for Amar Singh Chamkila was a challenge: Irshad Kamil

- May 5, 2024
| By : Idrees Bukhtiyar |

Speaking about his collaborations with Imtiaz Ali and AR Rahman, the lyricist said that their friendship is more like technicians who appreciate each other

KEY WORKS: Irshad Kamil has written songs for films like Jab We Met, Love Aaj Kal, Rockstar among others

Bollywood lyricist Irshad Kamil said that writing songs for the film Amar Singh Chamkila was challenging for him. 

“It was quite challenging for me to write its songs as I consider Amar Singh Chamkila (the subject of the film) as a revolutionary writer. His lyrics have brought the hidden truth of the society to the fore,” he said.

The challenge was that I had to write about him in a balanced way and not use words that Chamkila used in his lyrics, and still not miss the essence of his songs. It has been a learning experience for me and I got to know a person,” he stated.

The film stars Diljit Dosanjh and Parineeti Chopra. It is directed by Imtiaz Ali and its music is composed by AR Rahman.

Chamkila ruled the music landscape in Punjab from 1979 to 1988 with songs that were a commentary on village life, drug abuse, guns, extramarital affairs, dowry, alcoholism and matters of Punjabi masculinity among others.

 Kamil has a connection with Delhi since the early days of his career. 

“Before moving to Mumbai, I lived in a Tibetan camp near ISBT in Delhi. I have also written for a few producers who used to work in Doordarshan and used to visit Delhi for that too. Mandi House is my favourite place as it is the hub of cultural activities. I visit Delhi for several cultural festivals also,” says the lyricist who has written songs for films like Jab We Met, Love Aaj Kal, Rockstar, Highway, Sultan, Jab Harry Met Sejal, Zero, Shikara, Tiger 3, Dunki among others.

“I love to eat Chhole Bhature at Nathu’s, ice cream from Nirula’s at Minto Road whenever I am there,” he said.

The recipient of Pushkin Prize, a Russian state honour given for literary excellence, said, “I was awarded this for my poetry book titled Ek Maheena Nazmon Ka. It was translated into Russian language and I was later invited to Moscow University in 2022 where I interacted with students studying Hindi.

“Tatarstan Writers Association is making an anthology about Indian poets and is translating my poetry book into the local Tatar dialect. People are loving this book and that’s why I think I have been given this award,” said the 52-year-old poet.

He talked about his collaborations with Imtiaz Ali and AR Rahman.

“I love to work with like-minded people. [It is] more than friendship — we are like technicians who appreciate each other. We work with positivity and the same is reflected in our work,” he said.

 “I really respect AR Rahman Sahab and I always get to learn a lot from him. I also love his innovative ideas and the point of view he maintains regarding his work. It remains an innovative period for me,” said Kamil, who originally hails from Malerkotla, Punjab.

Kamil emphasises that youngsters want to listen to good music. 

“They want to listen to the music which has no moral advice as nowadays our middle-class families are focussing on making their children good but not better human. They want to listen to the music which tells their story or they feel connected to it,” he said.

Operating his poetry band titled – The Ink Band, Kamil highlighted the importance of Hindi and Urdu language. 

“They have not died despite the presence of English. These two languages are something that we all have grown up with. One can’t leave them as they are like a family,” he said.

He devours whatever crosses his path. “Whatever I get, I read it. I am not particular about anything that I have to read this content only. If I come across a good book, I like to read a few pages. I have also kept a few books in my car and I read them while travelling. It reduces your irritation and anxiety,” said Kamil who has written songs like Tum Se Hi, Nadaan Parinde, Mere Naam Tu, Safar, and O Maahi among others.

Kamil feels that new lyricists need to do some work on their skills.  

“Though they write, the quality of writing is missing. The thought process should be maintained because when they are writing about one thought, another thought appears abruptly so it disconnects things. Also, the choice of words is wrong. If they will keep this in mind, it will surely help them,” said Kamil, who has won several awards including Film Fare Award, IIFA, Zee Cine Awards and others.