Lyricist Shellee shares his work experience with AR Rahman for Pippa

Indulge speaks with the magician of words, and here's what he has to say about his part work, his inspiration and more. 

Dharitri Ganguly Published :  13th April 2023 07:20 PM   |   Published :   |  13th April 2023 07:20 PM
Amit Trivedi, Anurag Kashyap and Shellee pose for a snap

Amit Trivedi, Anurag Kashyap and Shellee pose for a snap

The binding factor of lyricist and poet Shellee, aka Shailender Singh Sodhi’s lyrics, is his stronghold over literature, as well as his ability to pull out colloquially unique words from Hindi, Punjabi, and Haryanavi, stringing them into songs. And even you won’t deny any of the things that we said above. Example? The most favourite Holi track this year, Hori Mein from Gulmohar. Fun, out-of-the-box and sweet.

Be it O Pardesi! from Dev D, Chitta Ve from Udta Punjab, Daryaa from Manmarziyaan, or Chaudhary, and Khari Khari from MTV Coke Studio or even the recently released album of Anurag Kashyap’s film Almost Pyaar with DJ Mohabbat, Shellee has never failed to treat us with some of the best songs in recent times, and we eagerly wait for his first collaboration with AR Rahman for the upcoming film Pippa. Indulge speaks with the magician of words, and here's what he has to say about his part work, his inspiration and more. 

You have recently worked with AR Rahman for Pippa, which is yet to release. How was your experience?

The film is about the 1971 war. Working with Rahman is also a great experience. He too gives you complete freedom to let your ideas flow. But he also has a fun approach to creating songs. Suppose he is rehearsing or so, a particular word is stuck. The moment that excites him, the whole song needs to be written around that word, but of course that has to be relevant. However, you know what the most difficult part is? When Rahman asks for English synonyms for Hindi or Urdu words. Oh, how difficult it gets to translate these words! And I literally had to take help of all possible languages to explain him. Though the only thought I had in mind was that I hope the meaning and essence of the word doesn’t get lost in the midst of the translation sessions. That was literally a crazy experience.   

Tell us something about your recently released song Hori Mein from Gulmohar?

It’s not a typical Bollywood song, and has folkish elements in it. The vocabulary is also of Uttar Pradesh, and thus the song has the word Hori instead of Holi. And as per the situation in the film, it was more about a Holi of flowers instead of colours. The challenge to write a song in another dialect or another language is what inspires me.

What goes into writing a song for you?

Many moments, many emotions. Friend’s joy, my own sadness, a bohemian lifestyle and even boredom, and even the thought that I have to pay rent, inspires me. It’s wrong when people say that a muse is necessarily required to write songs. It’s actually to explain what might inspire you.

How has your father been an inspiration for you?

It’s only because of my father Late Prof Himmat Singh Sodhi, who had been a literary scholar, a poet, has been my biggest inspiration and it is only because of him that I am what I am today. 

Tell us something about your experience working with Amit Trivedi and Anurag Kashyap.

With Anurag Kashyap, there is a freedom that I enjoy to write, to express myself. It can be happy, sad, eccentric…I can literally scribble something random and hand it over to him. I think he will like that more (laughs). I have known Amit Trivedi since 2009 or even before that. And the reassuring part is that even if we have disagreements or fights over a song, that will be fun and will lead to something positive. In fact, the way Amit looks at music, or the way he  creates it is very unique, which makes him popular, I believe. I am really close to both of these guys.

When all three of us were creating music and writing songs for Almost Pyaar with DJ Mohabbat, we literally consulted our children, Anurag’s daughter Aaliyah and my son, whether or not we were getting the Gen-Z lingo correct. It was really appreciated by Vishal Bhardwaj and he even asked how we picked up the lingo.

Any director/music director that you look forward to working with?

Definitely Vishal Bhardwaj. He told me twice that we will work together. But let’s see. Also I would love to write lyrics for the renowned Pakistani singer Ali Sethi and the Nepali singer-songwriter Bipul Chhetri. Currently, I am obsessed with the works of these three people. 

Any regrets regarding your career?

Many. But the most important is that I should definitely have started writing songs much earlier, at least 10 years before I started. 

What's there in the pipeline for 2023?

Director Raja Krishna Menon’s Pippa that has the music direction by AR Rahman is a big upcoming release. There are a few web series and films too, that you will come to know later.