He’s locked in his music sittings. Half a dozen cell phone calls later, I turn the tape recorder towards Indian cinema’s most prolific lyricist:
What have you been doing lately?
Right now, I’m excited and anxious about Salaam-E-Ishq. I have Vikram Bhatt’s Red, Abbas Mustan’s Naqab and Race, Himesh Reshammiya’s Aap Ka Suroor, Satish Kaushik’s Tere Sang, Anant Mahadevan’s Anamika and Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Saawariya.
I’m also recording two private albums, one of them with Adnan Sami.
How was your biography received?
It has opened another door for me. My book will help young writers to find work in movietown. It will caution them about the ways of show business.
What’s your equation now-a-days with Javed Akhtar and Gulzar?
(Laughs) The way they were. They’re father figures for me. I respect their work. It’s a wrong perception that we’re not on good terms.
Whenever we meet at parties, we give each other a warm hug. You don’t do that to people you don’t like. When I’m their age, I will probably be respected as much as them.
And your relationship with Himesh Reshammiya?
It’s perfect. Initially, I didn’t want to work with him. I didn’t find him quite worthy then. But after Tere Naam, my opinion changed completely. We have planned something out of the world for his acting debut.
Why are you writing Hinglish lyrics — just like Javed Akhtar and Gulzar? I’m not aping anyone. Today everyone is writing Hinglish lyrics. I wrote Hinglish lyrics for Dhoom 2, Javed saab for Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna and Gulzar saab for Jaan-e-mann.
College and school sudents, youngsters, everyone’s into them. If something sells in the market, why not sell it? Literary lyrics worked in the ’60s and ’70s. Tastes have changed. So have we. We also now use Punjabi, Gujarati and Marathi in our songs.
Would you say you’re happy?
I’m very happy, but I’m not content. The day I am content, I will stop working. I’m working as much as I should. I’m trying my best to match my rhythm with this generation’s. I want to stay in the business for longer. Otherwise, what’s the point of sitting at home and talking about “woh achche din the...” Right?