Purvaja Sawant (BOMBAY TIMES; July 7, 2017)

When Gulzar saab wrote the lyrics of the song Mere Miyan Gaye England (Rangoon), perhaps even he didn't realise that the lines 'Udan khatole mein saiyaan jo pehli baar ude, aasmaan mein chaand pakad ke jhapp se kood pade' will pique the curiosity of a whole new generation, who wondered what an 'udan khatola' (flying machine) was! In the recent past, Bollywood lyricists have caught our attention with not-so-common yet catchy words and hooks in songs, often making us look up the word on the internet to know what they mean. Be it OK Jaanu's Kaara Fankaara (hissing sound made by a snake), Tamasha's Matargashti (strolling about aimlessly), Raees' Dhingana (joy) or Fitoor's Haminastu (if there's heaven on earth, it's here), all these sound exotic and add a tadka to the song.

Bollywood music has evolved over the years, with musicians experimenting with different sounds, instruments and techniques. According to lyricist Kumaar, one of the reasons why unusual words have made their way into songs is because of the change in audiences' preference. His Kar Gayi Chull from Kapoor & Sons became a chartbuster, and it Bollywoodised the word 'chull'. Kumaar says, “In the 90s, there were a few key words that were present in almost every song - sanam, deewana, jigar, mohabbat, dil etc - because these were a hit with the audiences back then. Now, the trend has changed. Today, listeners expect non-filmi lyrics in Bollywood songs! Earlier, we would be asked 'What is the mukhda of the song?' and now, it's 'What is the hook?' Composers don't want 'used' words. The requirement is for unconventional lyrics. They want catchy lines that will get people instantly hooked to the song.“

Amitabh Bhattacharya, the lyricist behind songs like Raabta and Dhaakad, is of the opinion that Dhaakad, is of the when one comes across a non-familiar word in a song, it automatically automatically piques their interest, especially if they don't know the meaning. “The idea is that people should take the effort to find out the meaning of the word,“ he says. The song writer, who likes using khaalis (pure) Urdu in his songs like Zehnaseeb (Hasee Toh Phasee), believes it works well. He adds, “I think if the word sounds nice to the ears and is meaningful, it should be used in the song.“

Varun Grover, whose 'womaniya' has now become a cult word, says that the inspiration behind some of his unusual lyrics has come from the milieu that the film has been set in. He shares, “For Gangs Of Wasseypur, I decided to use local phrases like 'chhichhaledar' (a mess). Today, many film stories are set outside Mumbai, so there is scope for lyricists to write songs, which draw inspiration from different dialects and regions. Also, there is so much competition. To stay ahead, we need to be on our toes and come up with catchy lyrics. We have to capture the audiences' imagination in just those few words before they change the radio channel! Lyrics need to be flashy, but at the same time, they need to complement the setting and characters of the film.“

Amitabh agrees that it's often the script that demands the use of unconventional words. “When I was writing Dhaakad, I used a word which people in the northern belt were familiar with because the film was based in Haryana. Luckily, pan India, the word isn't common and so, it stood out. As lyricists, our job is to make a song stand out,“ he states.