Where has all the lyricism gone?

Have you also felt that in the last decade or so there has been a sharp decline in the lyricism of Bollywood Film music?

There have been many hit Bollywood songs and each new era brings forth a new musician or lyricist into the forefront but somewhere we have lost out on beautifully worded music.

Earlier, lyrics were provided by stalwarts such as Sahir Ludhianvi and Shailendra and Shakeel Badayuni. Not only were they lyricists for Hindi films but they were also poets of great renown. The words had a lilt to them, there was meaning and ethos in them and they lingered in your mind for a long time.


Lyricists such as Kaifi Azmi, Hasrat Jaipuri, Anand Baxi were poets first and lyricists afterwards. They put into words and music the emotions of the characters and often they added a greater dimension to the film. It is a well-known fact that Raj Kapoor was so fond of good music and lyrics that he made sure that his lyricists were given ample time to find the words to match his stars and scenes. This kind of approach towards the music of his films was one of the main reasons why his songs are still popular.

Songs such as “Jaane woh kaise log the” from Pyaasa, written by Sahir Ludhianvi,  ”Waqt ne kiya kya haseen sitam ” from Kaagaz Ke Phool, written by Kaifi Azmi, “Mera Joota hai japani” from  Shree 420, lyrics by Hasrat Jaipuri, – all of them were released many decades ago, but are remembered even today. So many memories are associated with these songs and their words.


However, today we can see and hear a visible decline in the role of a lyricist. The rhythms and beats have taken over and have become of greater importance. Apart from one or two lyricists such as Gulzar and Javed Akhtar, there are very few who can be named by the general public as being the person behind the words of the song.

Reasons Behind the Absence of Good Lyrics in Hindi music

We really cannot pinpoint any one reason for this. There are many factors which have contributed to this state of affairs. Singer Shaan has said in an interview that “youngsters do not understand the value of lyrics”. There are others who feel that lyricists do not get enough recognition for the good work which they do.

There is also a general feeling that the beat and the tempo are what make a song popular. Being able to dance to the music – now that is what more important rather than being able to recite the words.

There has also been a general lowering of standards in the level of the words which are written. This may be the result of the decline in a lyricist’s role, or it may also be the reason behind the decline. A chicken and an egg situation here!

Commercialism has creeped into art and few people make write songs because they genuinely like doing so. Most are in it for the money, which is slowly becoming true of all other professions.

There are a few who go against this trend – Javed Akhtar,  Prasoon Joshi and Sameer, but we need to highlight them and give the others a chance to shine and above all give them the recognition they deserve. Let us bring back the days when the words were as important as the tune and when songs were written to match the emotion and the sentiments of a scene and to enhance the visuals.

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About Mridula Murgai

Mridula is an enthusiastic blogger from New Delhi who loves watching and discussing movies. When she is not immersed with glitterati, she spends time with Goonj, an NGO for the poor. She divides the rest of her time between playing different roles such as a wife, a mother, a daughter and a grandmother and also a full-time housekeeper

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4 Responses to Where has all the lyricism gone?

  1. komal October 26, 2010 at 9:46 pm #

    great article; i definitely do agree that the substances of songs have slowly transfigured to beats and rhythm more than the words…i agree with shaan; i blame society's diminishing poetic language and growing lack of sensitivity…society is much more shallower now and you can witness that change clearly by comparing just a few decades of bollywood movies; like you noted, back then songs were made to supplement and support the movie and its meaning whereas now directors put them in for mere entertainment or even for no reason..bollywood is also much less dramatic now and is on its way to becoming completely westernized.

    a lot of the new songs that come out nowadays have several english words in the chorus and others are just simply stupid….to the point where it's embarrassing and all you can do is laugh.

    • prateek October 28, 2010 at 8:13 pm #

      I do agree with your opinion Komal. If only our friends and family and others around us were more sensitive towards art rather than the money in commercial films, we would always have good movies to watch!

  2. maverick November 6, 2010 at 6:52 am #

    Everything is commercial now a days. No value for good lyrics or music. The young generation is all about fast music and beat. t But these songs are only short lived. Where as songs from good olden days are still popular now.

  3. Rashmi Narayanswamy February 13, 2011 at 3:05 am #

    Wow Aunty enjoyed reading this, didn’t know you also blog. I remember you teaching us English in school and how you has encouraged me in my writings. Thanks a lot for the encouragement. Wish you and Murgai uncle best wishes from all of us here in Pune.


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