And so it seems to be. With the peppy, raunchy Caribbean song having already starting to rule the i-Pods and imaginations of the masses alike, lyricist Varun Grover, who has penned the Hindi bits of the popular number from Gangs of Wasseypur (GoW) seems to have found grounding in a territory that he already claims to being his.
Previously having penned lyrics for Ladkhadaaya for Anurag Kashyap’s That Girl in Yellow Boots, Grover had managed to grab the attention of Anurag Kashyap who he wanted to work with. And with GoW getting rave reviews for its lyrics and music alike, the lyricist tells Divya Naik about what it took to make something as explicit as Hunter.
You won’t be able to imagine someone as sloppy, casual and unperturbed as Varun Grover to pen something as sensational, implicit and candid as Hunter. His body language and speech projects just the contrary. “I come from an engineering background having done civil engineering from IIT-Benaras.” That may explain quite a bit about his geeky and relaxed character.
Grover worked at a software firm in Pune, having been born and brought up in Dehradun and grown up in Lucknow. Writing came to him rather naturally, making him quit his job and move to Mumbai in 2004 where he started working on small assignments in television comedy shows, managing to pull through with his savings from the software job. “It was easy back then as I had made quite a bit of money unlike what the state of these companies is now – they don’t pay as much.” His first break, however, turned out to be a stand up comedy show on Star One which was intellectual and in English – something that he was rather comfortable with. “That show got me good assignments in the following days giving me the chance to work with the likes of Vinay Pathak and Ranvir Shorey. It also gave me the footing to pen for the online comedy show, Jaihind TV with whom I have been associated for three years now.”
So how did Kashyap happen to take notice, one might ask? “I had approached him via the blog Passion For Cinema, where he wrote about his films and asked him for a chance to write for him which came in the form of one song that I wrote for No Smoking. I stayed in touch with him since then. The song got canned due to contractual problems with music companies which allowed only one lyricist to work on the songs.” Grover didn’t give up. He happened to notice a press release announcing that Kashyap was planning a low budget alternate film which would be shot in 14 days with 20 lakh rupees. “I told him that if he was willing to make something so experimental, he might as well experiment with me. And that’s how Laddkhadaaya happened.” That was the only song in That Girl in Yellow Boots, which barely got noticed. Yet, the song was enough to please Kashyap who then offered Grover GoW, his next project.
Working with Kashyap being easy for a newbie like Grover, it wasn’t a cakewalk as Kashyap wanted authentic lyrics, complete with the Bihari feel that his film had. Grover being a Punjabi therefore had to learn the ropes of it all – right from the dialect to the intricacies of the speech. “Sneha (Khanwalkar) had travelled to the Caribbean and the interiors of Bihar for a month and a half, all alone and then came back and we chalked out further plans. We both travelled again in the areas of Patna, Gaya, Ranchi and Muzzafarpur. The mammoth task being to understand the four chief dialects reigning there which are Maithili, Angika, Magahi and Bhojpuri.” Kashyap did give both him and Khanwalkar the complete freedom to place the songs wherever they wished to in the script without giving them any brief. “Usually, directors aren’t so easy on you. They give lyricists and composers references to other English songs and world music with a strict brief. Anurag did nothing of the sort which was surprising. All he said to us was that this was going to be a film centered on the gangster culture with a rural feel to it.”