“Honesty I think is the backbone of Aamir's direction. Audience is God for him,” says acclaimed lyricist Prasoon Joshi who has earned awards-n-audience-approval for his work in films like Hum Tum, RDB and Fanaa. “He creates to connect, to entertain, to convey. And I believe in the same,” says Joshi who has had a longstanding relationship with Aamir as the Ad Guru in him has designed the 'Thanda Matlab Coca Cola' Ad campaign around the reclusive superstar. Remind him about his towering presence in the ad world (Prasoon is the Executive Chairman of McCann World group's Indian operations) and he says with a disarming smile, “But designations apart I still am a copywriter who loves the roller coaster ride of creating.” Tata Indicom ad with Ajay-Kajol is a testimony to that besides hundreds of others. In this exclusive interview with IndiaFM Prasoon talks about the music of Taare Zameen Par, Ghajini Remake and lots more.
How was the experience of writing the lyrics of Taare Zameen Par?
Exceptional. It is always a pleasure to work with Aamir. The story moved me right from the first day when I heard it and I found it very true honest and important to be told. I knew it is going to be a challenge since it was dealing with no regular emotions and needed an intricate approach. SEL are rare musicians. I've worked with them earlier too which gave me a lot of assurance that with our collaboration 'kuch toh hoga'. I must say though this is the first film which is about kids that I was working on (barring a few songs earlier e.g. 'Sapna Dekha Hai Maine' - Shubha Mudgal and 'Chanda Chamke' -Fanaa, for kids) this conveyed a spectrum of emotions. Since I have a little daughter - Aishaanya - at home, expressions were waiting for me.
The lyrics of the first song promo that came out are sensitive with heart-felt imagery. What was the brief?
Right from my first interaction with Amole, his story had a very sensitive and heartfelt approach. He was completely immersed in it and that was bound to rub off on me. Then Aamir's involvement and his energy also got injected. Rest as I say one is just a medium which did its job. I never write songs just to express the visuals or scenes of the films no matter how much the film demands. After a point it is a personal journey, which I would say I thoroughly cherished.
How do you rate the music of TZP?
I think it is beautiful but who am I to say, I am part of it. Unless the audiences say that, it is incomplete.
How was the experience of working with Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy after Phir Milenge?
In Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy you have an army of talent. They are so intelligent at times something that is unsaid also gets expressed in their music. We go a long way because of our advertising background and have a great relationship, understanding and respect for each other, which really helps. In this film, you will hear Shankar singing some songs and express few emotions which I think one has not heard before from him. He is so bloody accomplished as a singer and makes it sound so simple when he sings.
Which one is your favourite song in the film?
Difficult to say. The title song definitely, the mother song and 'Kholo Kholo' these three would be my pick.
You've been collaborating with Rahman once again (after RDB) on Ghajini Remake. How different is the experience?
Very different, creatively and to be precise, even personally. Creatively it is a very different film than Rang De Basanti. It is much pacier film and hence the requirements are very different. Personally, because in Rang De Basanti alongside working professionally we were developing a personal relationship, which matured by the time the project, peaked. Now when I am working with him again our understanding has newer dimensions which I think gets reflected in the work we do. I always respected him but now there is a deep emotional connect. It would be premature for me to talk about specifics of songs at this juncture but it's entirely a new flavour.
How do you rate Aamir as a director considering TZP is his first film?
Aamir decided to direct the film much later than usually a director would do. Aamir believes in thorough homework which he did in this case as a producer earlier. But then Aamir is Aamir, once he decided he went full throttle. As an actor also Aamir has always benefited his films in the past through his vision. In a sense direction comes naturally to him. Honesty I think is the backbone of his direction. Audience is god for him. He creates to connect, to entertain, to convey. And I believe in the same. That is the reason I thoroughly enjoy working with him.
You are one of the very few people who are close to Aamir. Why do you think he evokes such extreme reactions from media and within the industry?
Media and the Industry should answer that. But it's unfortunate that at times this happens. Such a transparent person with pronounced intentions and bone deep honesty gets dragged into trivial issues. What is amazing is the way he withstands everything and yet stays true to his beliefs.
Your last Coke ad with Aamir didn't win the same approval as the earlier ones. How is the next coke ad going to be like?
Not clear which ad. According to my client all worked stupendously and each had a different purpose behind it. Every ad has a different brief, product requires different ideas and approaches at different stages. Products are like human beings. Its like telling we like you when you crack a joke but hate you when you talk seriously. Next ad would emerge from what Coca Cola as a brand would require at a time. I do not create advertising just to entertain. We entertain to communicate.
Why do you do so less work as a lyricist?
Quantity is not important to me. I do not - not do projects which I must do. I have two parallel careers which at times is a deciding factor.
What are your future plans?
I don't plan future. I follow my instinct. But yes I dream. I dream of creating work which I feel proud of. Let's face it, at the end of the day the man in the mirror needs to be faced.
When do we see you turning a director?
Hypothetical at this point; I hate direction being called the next step for any craftsmen related to filmmaking. I hate when a cinematographer is asked the question or gets the suggestion that you should soon direct your film or a scriptwriter gets pushed into filmmaking for entirely social hierarchical reasons. Sad. People should direct, write; compose music, write songs when they feel up to it. It doesn't mean that I am averse to direction. I would when I must.
How many poetry anthologies have you written so far? Any new one in the Pipeline?
I am already published twice. But that was long back. Haven't published a book in the last 10 years. I think soon I will work on it. I write almost everyday about everything which inspires or affects me.
You made a mark with non-films albums for Silk Route and Shubha Mudgal? Any plans of doing a few more in the future?
I love doing non film albums. But people tell me that nobody wants them today. There is economics attached to releasing albums no matter how much you hate it 'wily nilly' things boil down to this. I cherish the work I did with Shubhaji (Shubha Mudgal), would love to do another one soon.
How do you see the corporatisation affecting the film industry?
Nascent at this stage. Little immature too. Prices are going haywire because of the desperation of the corporate to break into Indian film's close-knit society. But this would stabilize. Corporate world will definitely bring in more experiments and newer ideas.