Gulzar’s Foreword to Romancing the Song

Music in Indian Films is not only music for the film but it is the music of its time and of its people. The same goes for its lyrics. They are complementary to each-other. Songs live for their words, and words live on for the songs.

Though its consumption is very flippant and flirtatious, music comes to us in all kinds of wrappers, sometimes in very ordinary films, at other times in well-made, star-studded ones, and at times in highly colourful, magnificent films. But its essence never reduces. Songs have all spoken about their times and the culture of their people. I have a very poor analogy to offer: that a song is like a paan, whether wrapped in a discarded paper, or on a leaf, or presented on a silver platter, dipped in rose water. The essence of paan or its addiction has never reduced in people. Music, and hence lyrics, have also remained an integral part of Indian films.

Look into it a little more carefully. Our lyrics have preserved our folklore, languages and dialects, and for that matter, even reflected the change of historical times. Cinema was born when the Indian struggle for independence was catching momentum. Revolutionary movements had started stirring people’s minds. Our lyrics and music kept pace with it, in spite of the medium being used basically for entertainment.

Another important point to note with reference to this book is that music vis-à-vis lyrics has many a genre in our country. Being a very festive culture, we love to sing at every festival, and there are songs for every occasion, be it marriage, mangni, Holi, Diwali, Eid, fasting…anything. We even celebrate death here. Our prayers vary with every caste and religion. We sing for snakes, trees, birds, the weather and even the winds.

To take an orbital/satellite view of the entire century of this phenomenal mass medium, and to analyse it, to channelize it, and to preserve it, you require a great mind and a master, no less than Manek Premchand. He is not new to this subject. But only he could work out the huge task of collecting these scattered gems, categorize them and compile them into a fabulous book.

Premchand’s work is no less a work than Nehru’s The Discovery of India, and its people through lyrics and music.

Gulzar
Mumbai, June 16, 2012.