Sahil Sultanpuri has made his way in the Indian film industry with a lot of hard work. He is known to be a simple, modest and respectful lyricist who loves his work. His father was a farmer from Sultanpur, now Amethi. Sahil’s dream and struggle made him what he is today. Known for his work in films like ‘Kudiyon Ka Hai Zamana’ (2006), ‘Gangor’ (2010), ‘Mai: Love Your Mother’ (2013) ,’Saat Uchakkey’ (2016), ‘Commando 3’ (2019) and ‘WhatsApp Love’ (2019), Sahil in this interview, talks about his next hit, the urge to reinvent his writing and persevering in today’s times.
“Akhiyaan Milavanga” from the Vidyut Jammwal starrer ‘Commando 3’ (2019) remains one of the most well-known songs so far. Did you ever expect this song to be a worldwide hit? Do you believe your next hit will be bigger?
“Akhiyaan Milavanga” without any doubt is a very good song. But I did not realise that this song is going to be a super hit. Yes, when Manann Shah ji used to sing the tunes, the song used to sound so different. I hope, my next song will also be a hit. After delivering such a hit song, our responsibilities and expectations have become bigger.
The Hindi film industry runs on connections – friends, contacts, etc. How would your journey have been if you did not get to meet Mannan Shaah? Are you grateful to the person who made this meeting happen?
No doubt, I totally agree with you that if I didn’t get to meet Manann Shah ji, I wouldn’t have got the chance in “Akhiyaan Milavanga” and I would have been struggling for something else. But, I am very thankful to my friend, my brother, Adi Sharma, who introduced me to Mannan Shaah ji and he trusted me. Thank you so much Mannan Shaah ji.
Many are not aware that ‘Kudiyon Ka Hai Zamana’ (2006) which stars Rekha, Mahima Chaudhry and Ashmit Patel had two songs, “Kamrein Mein Aaja” and the title track written by you. The music was done by Iqbal Darbar and Yasin Darbar. Share with us the work ethics back in the mid-2000s and the experience working on this film.
Yes a lot of people are unaware of it. The film was not a hit but the title track became a hit and I got popularity for that. Iqbal Darbar and Yasin Darbar, who are music directors in the Hindi film music industry, their brother Ismail Darbar has got the popularity too through ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’ (1999). Another lyricist A.M. Turaz got popularity through this. Turaz and I used to be roommates during the shooting days. Amar Butala was the director and I remember we went on a party for the music release and Rekha ji appreciated and praised our work. A very few people know she sang a song in the film too. It was released by Eros.
Those were the golden days of my life. If I talk about my experience in this film then I should say this was a very big film in my career. Writing songs for a film like this which has got such great star casts, was like a magic treasure for me. Mahima Chaudhry, Vasundhara Das, Kim Sharma, Ashmit Patel and Rekha ji were the star cast in the film and it was like a dream came true for me. I used to bunk school and went to watch their films and now writing a song for them was like an Oscar for me. I want to share one of my experiences with you, during the shooting of the song, I have met music director Ismail Darbar and he gave me few tips which works for me till now.
Are you still in touch with those whom you worked with at the beginning of your career?
Yes of course. How can I forget them? They were all my partners during my struggling days. They are a very big part of my career. Still now, whenever I meet them I thank them from the core of my heart.
You grew up in Jagdishpura, Uttar Pradesh. How did your upbringing in a small village shape your views about poetry, music and art?
My childhood was very simple. My grandfather took care of me. We were very poor. I have struggled a lot during my primary school days. My father was a farmer and also a very good mridangam player. Farming and playing mirdangam was the only thing in his life. So, singing is in my blood. When I grew up I felt like doing something different in life so thought of what to do. Kavi Sammelan attracted me a lot. Then I started writing poems. One day, this desire made me leave my home and come to Mumbai.
How keen are you on working on Marathi projects? What kind of satisfaction do you receive?
I’m still excited to do Marathi movies, the way I was excited to do ‘Mulga’ (2010). I’m very happy to do Marathi movies because I live in Mumbai now and Mumbai made my career and I respect the Marathi language.
Do you sometimes feel over the moon when your lyrics are sung by talented artists like Asha Bhonsle, Arijit Singh, Shaan, Shabab Sabri, Javed Ali, Jaspinder Narula and others?
Yes of course. When I heard that Asha Bhonsle ji was going to sing my song, I couldn’t sleep all night. When I heard the song after it’s been recorded, I felt like my dream came true. I feel so lucky to work with these singers. Maybe, my ancestors did some good work in their life that’s why I got this much lucky.
What is life about? What is the purpose of our existence?
Life is not just about breathing. Prove it if you are alive, what I mean is do something in such a way that even after you’re gone people should take your name with pride.
You sound like a grounded, humble and down to earth individual. Correct me if I am wrong.
You are absolutely right because I belong from a farmer’s family, I cannot leave the land. Being a lyricist myself, I always have to keep looking after my land.
Times are getting harder for many artists as the pandemic changed everything. Do you sometimes feel like giving up writing?
One cannot turn away from this truth. Covid-19 has changed the lives of all our friends and relatives, the way of work has changed. People’s income has almost come to an end. But the solution for this is not giving up on my work, the good time didn’t last for long, then how long will this bad time last? The time will come again.
As a lyricist, which area do you think, you have to improve to move to the next level, where you want to reach?
It is not just about strengthening a particular area. I want to take my writing completely towards some new dimensions every day but sometimes all the things are not in your hands, luck is a thing which also matters.
Which songs of Gulzar Sahab is closest to your heart and why?
“Iss Mod Se Jaate Hain”, “Naam Gum Jayega”, “Tujhse Naraaz Nahi Zindagi”, “Tum Aa Gaye Ho Noor”, “Tere Bina Zindagi Se Koi” and others, are the songs I absolutely love because these are full of romance along with the philosophy and which is very close to the Indian culture.
Was it worth to struggle so much when you landed in Mumbai in 1997?
My answer will be yes. At that time I only had my dreams but there was no way to fulfill them. The solution of which was only in the struggle. I believe that the usefulness of struggle will never diminish.
Did you know that Nitin Bose’s ‘Ganga Jamuna’ (1961) is rated as the best acting performance of Dilip Kumar in his career? The use of the Awadhi dialect was very prevalent in the movie. Tell us your grasp over this dialect and some information.
Sir, who does not know about Late Dilip Kumar Saheb. May God rest his soul. As for the Awadhi, I find it very sweet. All the poets of our Northeast India have composed entire texts in Awadhi such as the holy book Ram Charit Manas (Tulsidas) Kabir Wani, Bijak (Kabir Das), Sur Das and you will remember this proverb “Man Changa To Kathoti Mein Ganga” (If the mind is healthy, then everything is fine) are the lines of Sant Raidas. Apart from this, many writers and poets have composed their compositions in Awadhi. I have also written a Saraswati Chalisa in Awadhi which is sung by Hariharan sir.
Let’s say I give you a situation, such as, ‘A man is losing a woman – she is his love interest, his friend, his soul mate’. Write some lines for your fans.
“Zindegi Tera Bina Aadhori Haai,
Yoon Juda Rahena Kya Tere Liye Zaroori Haai?”
(Life is incomplete without you nowadays.
Is it necessary for you to be apart like this?)