Lyricist Kunaal Vermaa talks about working in Bollywood and Tollywood

Kunaal has given life to popular tracks like Hasi from Hamari Adhuri Kaani and Mera Banega Tu from Liger
Kunaal Vermaa
Kunaal Vermaa

Lyricist Kunaal Vermaa hails from a small town named Sri Madhopur in Rajasthan and has become one of the most sought after wordsmiths in the Bollywood film industry with hits like Tum Hi Aana, Hasi, Mera Wala Dance and Mera Banega Tu. Kunaal’s journey is an inspiration to many as what started off as a hobby beyond his profession, has turned into something that brought him a name and fame in the commercial music workspace. We catch up with the young lyricist to talk about his philosophy and what’s next down his pipeline.

How did you venture into writing lyrics?

Quite contrary to what people might think, I don’t come from a musical background and started writing poems and ghazals as a pastime. Gradually as I delved deeper into my thoughts, the understanding of my thoughts evolved and my writings improved. As I started sharing my writings on social media, my friends guided me to consider writing commercially. It was at this point that I started understanding the concepts of Dhun, and how to place lyrics accordingly. After an extensive period of self-research, I started jamming with composers and all the experiences together pushed me towards working in Mumbai. My first project was with Pritam and I worked there for 8 months. I learnt a lot from him and that is exactly how my professional journey began.

How challenging was it to find a ground in the music industry?

I had to start from the scratch as I had zero knowledge before venturing into the industry. This was also why it became increasingly difficult to enter Bollywood. My only vision was to keep moving as I strongly believed my path will clear up as I pursue my dreams and it turned out to be true. I kept meeting people on my way and I kept learning on the go, pushing my limits with every step I took.

What is your music philosophy like?

My music mantra isn’t very technical, as the most of the audiences are not well aware of the technicalities. Music is something that should connect with people and help them enjoy and find comfort in it as they are the ones we make music for.

What would you consider your breakthrough moment as a lyricist?

I still remember the day I got a call from Mahesh Bhatt, telling me he loved my song Hasi. As I travelled to Mumbai to bring this project to fruition, he informed me about a female version of the same. Those three days of my stay at Mumbai, after having travelled all the way from Jaipur to meet Mahesh Bhatt exceeded all my expectations. He went on to tweet about me and Ami Mishra, and after we were done with the song when I asked him for a picture together he mentioned he had already tweeted my pictures with Ami, and the next would be with him. It was at this point it struck me that my Bollywood journey has commenced, and that definitely stands out to me as my breakthrough moment.

Has film music lost its charm over the years? As a lyricist yourself, how would you describe the change?

A lot of things have changed with time. There are so many platforms now and the social media craze has become quite evident. People are spending more time on social media than in their personal lives. They seldom have time to listen to music like how earlier people used to listen to songs. People don't pay much attention to details now and probably only listen to music when they're walking, in the car, or if they want to make a reel video. They have 15-20 seconds and if the song clicks, well and good. If not, they'll just press next as there are so many options available now. As far as I know, youth is very difficult to comprehend. This is why I try to keep my songs simple and comprehendable so as to have a good impact on the listeners.

You've worked with multiple A-listers in the music industry. Is there someone you really want to work with but haven't yet?

I want to work for AR Rahman and I have a gut feeling that it will happen soon. I feel it's my creation which speaks for me by now, and I am confident about my capabilities.

What's next in your pipeline?

I'm working on Mahesh Babu's film. I've been working on many legendary songs lately as I got a chance to rewrite them. There are some classics by Gulzar that I've attempted to work on. I look up to the legendary Gulzar and dream to receive as much respect as I put in my heart and soul through my lyrics as well.

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