Unlike poetry, songs are meant to be shared with people and need to have a lyrical quality. Being a poet and a lyricist demands dexterity in language. But to be a poet, lyricist, a theatre artist and an actor who can marry these performing styles and create memorable moments in Hindi cinema is a rare gift indeed. Thankfully for us, Swanand Kirkire possesses this gift in abundance. Swanand, who recently sang the baritone notes in the song Shauq in the movie Qala, is also the voice and lyricist of other ageless songs such as Behti Hawa Sa Tha Woh from 3 Idiots, Piyu Bole from Parineeta, Bande Me Tha Dum...Vande Mataram from Lage Raho Munnabhai.
Despite making such great songs and winning National Film Awards and Filmfare nominations, not many people know that Swanand never planned on becoming a lyricist. Nor could he contemplate that coming from the city of Indore, he would be sharing the stage with the likes of Piyush Mishra, Ashish Vidyarthi, Manoj Bajpayee, and Gajraj Rao. Nor do many people believe that his acting prowess informs his songwriting approach.
His long road from theatre in Indore to NSD and fame
Coming from a middle-class family in Indore, Swanand had a long road to take before he made his mark in theatre, which then led him to songwriting. Indore did not have a proper atmosphere for theatre unlike Bombay or Delhi. That being said, he did have inspiration as his parents managed their bank jobs with passion for music, being disciples of Pandit Kumar Gandharva. Moreover, his uncle used to do theatre and thus, Swanand was exposed to reading literature and songs. Once a year, he would perform in a play on Ganesh Utsav or during Maharashtra Rajya show competitions. He was also exposed to cinema through his mother and came across Ebrahim Alkazi, the then the director of the National School of Drama, who mentored people like Naseeruddin Shah and Om Puri. However, he did not know how to get into NSD. Also, his parents insisted that he finish his graduation in commerce before going into theatre.
However, life put him on his current path serendipitously when an NSD workshop was held in Indore. Working as an ad-hoc worker at a bank on daily wage way back in 1991, that workshop exposed him to people who spoke about acting as a passion, acting as a science and acting as a career-option. On hearing a few songs sung by Ashish Vidyarthi in a play by a group called Act One, Swanand was so inspired and charged by this experience he persuaded the initially-hesitant Ashish to allow him to join Act One. He has also fought with his parents to go to Delhi and his uncle offered him a place to stay for a month.
In Delhi, he rubbed shoulders with giants such as MK Sharma, Ashish Vidyarthi, Manoj Bajpayee, Piyush Mishra and Gajraj Rao who were all part of the group. He honed his talent and became known as the go to person for songwriting. However, as much as he enjoyed that time, people advised him not to spend too much time in Delhi theatre circuits as it could reduce his chances of selection into NSD. So, he went back to Indore and started working on a play written by Mahesh Elkunchvar. The original was not a musical but it was decided to make it one.
Writing songs for the first time, Swanand wrote four songs and they received an overwhelmingly positive response. Feeling content with what he was doing, Swanand finally decided to make this his career and how lucky audiences are, for Swanand has gone on to achieve so much by creating such memorable melodies and experiences. Stay tuned to Jay Ho.com to know more about Swanand’s journey into NSD, the industry and more.