Dear Younger Self by Gurpreet Saini

Lyricist, Poet & Actor

A journey that can’t be described in words.

April 2012, a younger version of me felt an emotion never felt before. Was it infatuation, love, pain – there were butterflies and confusion in my heart. Being someone who has always been unable to clearly communicate, I always was in awe of Shiv Kumar Batalvi, Amrita Pritam, Gulzar Saab and many other great artists. The way they eloquently put words together, the way they expressed, the way they had a command over the language, the way their writings had all the answers.

In Gulzar Saab’s beautiful words – 

Zindagi kya hai janne ke liye

Zinda rehna bahut zaroori hai

Aaj tak koi bhi raha to nahi

Tip – When you’re in search of answers, look back to your elders/ancestors, and they will guide you.

An inexplicable moment compelled me to pick up a pen (pencil back then) and paper, and I kept pouring my thoughts onto that piece of paper until the void inside me was partially filled. That thought, like many others, has remained with me till date and is also translated into my first commercial song, “Saadi Galli Aaja”, from the film Nautanki Saala.

Lagdi Tu Kyun Door Da Khwaab

Akhiyan Cho Wag paye aab

Dil Main Lagana Tere Naal

Rooh Nu Vasaja Seene Laun Waliye

Ik Waari Aaja Door Jaan Waliye

Tenu Hokaan Marda Phiraan

Tip -Each time, you’re given a situation to write a song on. You would’ve somewhere, sometime experienced that feeling. All you need to do is dig in and bring that out in your writing. 

Being a lyricist requires discipline and voraciously going through a lot of books, educating yourself about the technicalities of writing, having command over language that you’re comfortable in, but the most important thing is to listen to the lyrics of your own heart. To connect within, to be completely one. To give you a small anecdote – The first two lines of the song – Mausama – “mausam nu puch kiven beete inne saal ve, patta patta tere bina roya saade naal ve” were written in 2018. Even though I knew the technicalities of writing, I felt that I lacked the maturity and experience to give justice to the song and thus, it took two more years to complete it, and the song was finally released in 2020. 

Tip – Don’t perceive creative writing only as a job. It is also a way to be and grow. 

My journey from ‘Sadi Gali Aaja’ to ‘Dil Na Jaaneya’ taught me that there is no one particular process to writing – At times, Melody brings words along with it, and sometimes the words bring melody to life. In other, simpler words, when the heart of the lyricist and the music composer is in a union, is when the magic is created.

Tip – There is no rulebook to creative writing. Keep reading and keep writing, and eventually, you will find your own rulebook.  

Being born and brought up in the land of 5 rivers, I owe my writing, my songs and poetry to the land of Punjab. So, consciously or unconsciously, my writing has remanence from that land, and even my songs are a combination of 3 languages – Punjabi, Urdu and Hindi. This comes very naturally to me, and I have completely owned this feeling over a period of time. Writing is where I am being the most raw version of myself, and maybe people connect to that.

Tip – In today’s era, where language is changing rapidly, one should always remain true to their roots. That is the most unique thing a writer can offer.

Another bonus anecdote on how to write a remake of a famous song is ‘Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga’. This was a remake of a famous/classical song and to add my own lyrics and to live up to the original song written by the great Javed Akhtar Saab was one of the biggest challenges that I had faced till now. My thought was to write something original, something unique and seamlessly tie it to the hook line so that there was no comparison made with the original song. Eventually, 12 versions of the songs were rejected, and the thirteenth one is what came to life. 

There are two kinds of writing – Independent songwriting is where you can play with words and go wherever the creative process takes you, but while writing a song for a commercial film, you have to keep in mind the director’s vision and the story of the film.

For instance, These two lines from ‘ek ladki ko dekha to aisa laga’ – 

Pehle toh kabhi yun mujhko na aisa kuch hua 

Deewani leheron ko jaise saahil mila..

The male character named Saahil in the film helps the two female leads to come out and tell their story to the world. Metaphorically, ‘Deewani lehrein’ are the two females who meet Saahil and attain freedom. 

Whenever someone asks to how do you write or what is the process of writing – These words often come to mind – 

Ishq ohde vich gava ditti jo

Har geet ch oh jawani likhda haan

Duniya nu pata nahi kyun laggda hai

Ki main mohtaaj kahani likhda haan

To conclude, Poetry/Shayari is something that the higher power wants to say to us mortals and every poet is just a zariya (medium). A medium for the people, for love, compassion, pain, kindness and for life itself.

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