His chartbuster song ‘Galliyan’ (‘Ek Villain’), which came out in 2014, made him a household name but very few would know that Manoj Muntashir arrived in Mumbai from a small town in Uttar Pradesh in the late 90s. His first work as a lyricist was a non-film album released by Polydor in 1999 and he made his debut in films with ‘U Me N Bomsi’ in 2005. The writer-poet-lyricist went through a long spell of struggle before he found success but today, his talent is known to most people who follow Hindi cinema. Apart from being a prolific lyricist, he is the most sought after writer of reality shows on Indian television.
On his birthday today, I write about ten of my favourite songs penned by him.
Kaahe Sataye – Rang Rasiya
Music: Sandesh Shandilya
Singers: Roop Kumar Rathod and Sunidhi Chauhan
Baahar bheetar har antar
Pal bhaar ko dhah jaaye
Ho aisa milan tan raakh bane
Bas mann baaqi reh jaaye
The ‘Rang Rasiya’ album is a masterpiece and it was difficult to pick one from the five incredible songs written by Manoj Muntashir and composed by Sandesh Shandilya. After much deliberation, I picked ‘Kaahe Sataye’. Manoj largely employed braj bhasha while writing this song. I have not seen the film but from the lyrics, I could fathom that the song depicts the passionate romance between Sugandha (Nandana Sen) and Raja Ravi Varma (Randeep Hooda). ‘Rang Rasiya’ was shot and completed around 2007-08 and had a delayed release in theatres in 2014, sans any major promotion. As a result, the songs went unnoticed by a large number of people. If you are somebody who is yet to discover this album, please go and do so today!
Kaun Hai Voh – Baahubali The Beginning
Music: M.M Kreem
Singers: Kailash Kher and Mounima
Chaaron dishaaon mein
Tej saa who chhaaya
Uski bhujayein badlein kathayein
Bhagirathi teri taraf Shiv ji chalein
Dekh zara yeh vichitra maya
There could not have been a better song to describe the glory of Mahendra Baahubali. Manoj Muntashir uses chaste Hindi words in a way that they come across as accessible to the average listener and induces goose-bumps at the same time. M.M Kreem’s soaring tune, the grand orchestral arrangements and Kailash Kher’s rousing voice along with Manoj’s verses all lend themselves to the grandeur of the song.
Soja Zara – Baahubali The Conclusion
Music: M.M Kreem
Mohe mohe aise nahin chhedo saanware
Suno suno mose nahin khelo daanv re
Jaake yashoda se keh dungi re
I discovered this song while watching the film (the Hindi dubbed version) in a jam-packed single-screen theatre in Hyderabad. I distinctively remember getting enchanted by the mellifluous melody and the poetic verses in the song and immediately making a mental note to look up for the song on the internet once I came out of the theatre. I did exactly that and heard the audio track on a loop that day. Madhushree’s honey-soaked, which we do not get to hear very often of in films, added to the sweetness in the song.
Teri Mitti – Kesari
Singers: B Praak
O maai meri kya fiqar tujhe
Kyon aankh se dariya behta hai
Tu kehti thhi tera chand hoon main
Aur chaand hamesha rehta hai
This was a song where the composer, lyricist and singer contributed equally towards creating something which would arouse emotions effortlessly. Having said that, Manoj Muntashir’s words gave the song an extra edge and made it truly memorable. B Praak did a very good job at bringing Manoj Muntashir’s words come alive through his powerful, booming voice. As far as Arko is concerned, this is, perhaps, the best composed and most loved song of his career.
Kahin Se Chali Aa – Luv U Mr Kalaakar
Music: Sandesh Shandilya
Singers: Shivangi Kashyap and Mohit Chauhan
Main hi toh thhi, thhi who ghata
Haan dhoop mein jo chhayi thhi
Nazar kaise aati tumhein
Main hawaa bann ke aayi thhi
‘Luv U Mr Kalaakar’ was a sweet album filled with saccharine melodies as is the case with the music of most films produced by Rajshri Production. While ‘Sarphira Sa Hai Dil’ was the song which got some popularity, my favourite song from the album was ‘Kahin Se Chali Aa’. Manoj conveyed a sense of melancholia and distance between two people in a very subtle and effective way through his words. Shivangi Kashyap’s mildly peculiar rendition added to the charm of the song.
Maya Thagni – Jai Gangaaajal
Singer: Parvesh Mallick
Maya thagni naach nachave
Maya thagni naach nachave
Ab ehi jamaana chaale re
Ehi jamaana chaale re
Very few scores complement the narrative of the film as well as the one which Salim – Sulaiman and Manoj Muntashir put together for Prakash Jha’s ‘Jai Gangaajal’ did. The album had as many as eleven tracks all of which were in sync with the milieu and theme of the film. The film was set in Madhya Pradesh and Manoj used the local language/dialect to convey his thoughts in most of the songs. Though ‘Sab Dhan Maati’ was the most recognised song from the soundtrack, I picked the satirical ‘Maya Thagni’, sung wonderfully by Parvesh Mallick, for the list.
Phir Kabhi – M.S Dhoni The Untold Story
Music: Amaal Mallik
Singer: Arijit Singh
Tujh mein khoya rahoon main
Mujh mein khoyi rahe tu
Khud ko dhoondh lenge
Amaal Malik skilfully brought in a sense of nostalgia and melancholy in this song which, on the surface, appears to be a romantic number. Manoj Muntashir, through his words, lent an innocuous charm and innocence to this song which would make you fall in love with it in no time. Arijit Singh, as always, did complete justice to the song as a vocalist. This was the best song on the album but the least promoted one, perhaps because it was not a part of the film.
Baaja Bajya – Do Dooni Chaar
Music: Meet Bros Anjjan Ankit
Singer: Sunidhi Chauhan
Naa baaja bajeya, naa ghodi chadheyaa
Naa baandhi gaanth dupatte mein
Ghus aaya baani ke ghar banna
Taang adaa di fatte mein
Meet Bros work as a composer duo now but there was a time, not long back, when Anjjan Bhattacharya was a part of the team. If you go a little back in time, you will realise Ankit Tiwari, who now works as a solo composer, was a part of the team too. Manoj Muntashir worked with the team of four in ‘Do Dooni Chaar’ and ‘Isi Life Mein…!’. I picked “Na Baaja Bajeya”, celebratory number centred around a wedding, from ‘Do Dooni Chaar’ for this list. More than the tune, it is Manoj’s words which keep you hooked to this fun, spirited number.
Tu Kahan Kho Gaya – U Bomsi N Me
Music: Deepak Pandit
Singer: Shreya Ghoshal
Bistar pe silvatein
Kabhi aake puchh toh
Kaise raat yeh katein
‘U Bomsi N Me’, Manoj Muntashir’s debut feature film as a lyricist, had a bunch of tuneful songs including a duet by Sonu Nigam and Shreya Ghoshal called “Aankhon Mein”. My favourite song from the album, though, was ‘Tu Kahan Kho Gaya’, a sombre number sung by Shreya Ghoshal and composed by Deepak Pandit. The song has a ghazal-numa feel to it and the pathos in Manoj’s lines is brought to the fore effectively by Shreya’s expressive rendition. A couple of years back, the trio had collaborated for a non-film song called “Dhadkane Azad Hain” which was in a similar space.
Kuch Din – Kaabil
Music: Rajesh Roshan
Singer: Jubin Nautiyal
Aksar ataa-pataa mera rehta nahin
Koi nishaan mera kahin milta nahin
Dhoondha gaya jab bhi mujhe
Teri gali mein mila
Given the point at which this song arrives in the film, one had to be very careful about how it was written and one can always trust Manoj Muntashir to be sensitive about the situation of the song while writing it. Supriya (Yami Gautam) is no more in this world and Rohan (Hrithik Roshan) is reminiscing about the happy memories they shared together. The metaphor which comes alive in the aforementioned lines was used beautifully by Manoj in “Ishq Mubarak” (‘Tum Bin 2’) – “laapata sa mil jaaun kahin toh mujh se hi mujhe mila de zara”.