‘Pari’ was going to be the duckface song

It’s amazing how sometimes whacky endeavours can bring about wonderful outcomes. A case in point is Pari, our band’s loveliest song yet. Of all the dozen-odd songs we have released and another dozen that we’re yet to release, Pari is my clear favourite. Its lyrics pack so much soul and sincerity; the singing sounds so honest and is complemented by equally beautiful minimalistic music. I just love this love song.

And I’m just as proud of our duckface song. That’s one cool, smart, cheeky piece of work. The heart of both, duckface and Pari, lies in their lyrics. That said, both the tracks are poles apart. There’s the sweet, sincere feel of Pari and then there’s the absolutely loony, nutty duckface anthem. If you’ve heard them both, you know what I’m talking about. (Click here to watch the one-minute long duckface video.)

Poles apart, right? Yet, the truth of the matter is, Pari exists because of duckface. If there were no duckface, there’d be no Pari.  Let me explain.

Crazy song

One fine day, Avinash and I decided to make a whacky song. A crazy, stupid, fun song a la Ylvis (the Norwegian duo that gave the monster hit What Does The Fox Say?). Those days, we were devouring Ylvis songs, from The Fox to Stonehenge to Yoghurt, everything. Another hot topic we’d sometimes talk about was a pretty girl affected by the compulsive pouting syndrome. I’d pore over her photographs on Facebook and Avinash would lament the omnipresent pout.

Checking out new songs and new pics were completely unrelated activities. But then we thought, why not make a Ylvis-eque song dissing the duckface epidemic! Why not make a totally bonkers song! Unadulterated craziness that has the potential to go viral. While I can’t recall which one of us proposed this, what I do recall is that both of us instantly agreed that it’s a great idea. Great minds think alike. Thus the seeds of duckface were sown.

Skeleton of stupidity

We agreed that the lyrical progression of this duckface song should be like Ylvis’s Stonehenge. It should start off convincing the listener it’s a  deep, meaningful poetry and then go cuckoo. That’d be good, we thought. So for the opening paras of duckface, we decided we’d paint the picture of a beautiful, lovely damsel. Praise her beauty, her elegance, her poise, her grace. Write lyrics that tell the listener how captivating, how enchanting this girl’s presence is. For this part, music is gonna be soft and tender. Gentle, like the girl.

However, amid all this sugar, spice and everything nice, there’s something. A snag, something like a fly in the ointment. We planned we’d change the musical theme ever so slightly for these lines, adding a touch of melancholy while retaining the sincerity. The music was to change totally in the next line, which finally nails what the botheration about the girl is. It’s her duckface syndrome! This point onwards, the song would have none of the genuine-feelings undercurrent of the first para. Dubstep, EDM music dissing the pout-a-mania.

This was the original plan. With the outline of the song ready, we got down to brass tacks. Avinash composed a simple yet lovely tune on piano. It was with this music as the background that I had to write lyrics praising the girl. So I did. Wrote the first few lines:
Dikhne mein lagti hai pari si, pyaari si bheeni subah
Masoomiyat jhalakti adaa me uski, pyaar aaye beintahaan
Khilkhilaaye jo woh phir main dekhoon kya
Kaisi jaadugari yeh nasha

This video was shot when we were just framing the structure of the song. In this video, Avinash tells me the tune he has come up with for the track. Note how towards the end of the video he says this part onwards is about duck.

Change of heart

The next line was to transition to the botheration part, but we had already put in long hours at work and it was time to call it a day. As this duckface thing was meant to be just a timepass stuff, we didn’t take it up on priority over the next couple of days. I’d roam around our township in the evening, headphone plugged in. After writing the opening para for duckface, I was loitering in the streets I grew up, listening to Boyzone. This is one band synonymous with heart-touching music. As I was listening to their songs for the nth time, I thought to myself: After establishing feel for a good minute and a half, after stirring up love-struck emotions in me through this lovely music and genuine lyrics, if Boyzone were to give a whacky twist to the song like how we’re planning to do, it would not amuse me but piss me off left, right and centre. The twist would not impress me but merely make me feel cheated. This got me thinking.

I shared the apprehension with Avinash. He too had been having similar thoughts. What we had made thus far as the duckface song was too sweet to be spoiled. Anyway, we had been oohing and aahing over the sweet and simple song. Yes, turning this beauty into a beast would be a cardinal sin. We immediately canned the original idea and decided this song should continue being written the way it has been written thus far. Over the next couple of days, the song structure and lyrics were ready in their entirety.

The beautiful feedback Pari received tells us what a horrific blunder we were going to do by turning it into the duckface song. I guess I have Boyzone to thank for that!

Also read: Pari nominated for best pop song at RCFA

Lyricist of ‘Awaz’ explains the song

Our debut track Awaz is a unique amalgamation of electronica instrumentation and Indian classical vocals. While the experiment has found favour with many, the abstract nature of the lyrics has prompted queries about its meaning. Consequently, we got the lyricist and our friend Manjunath Sigi to break it down and explain what’s written between the lines. Here’s what he said:

I hate doing this yet I am doing it. And this is for my friends—they asked for it—as also motivated by a writer’s terrible urge. Most have this urge, barring a few made of different metal, that their work be understood by their readers. My wish is not that the listeners of Awaz hit bang-on on what I intended. Such a wish will be nothing but criminal and will murder the plurality of the text. And more than that, it will also be impossible to exactly figure out what I intended, for there will always will be a gap between me and the reader. This gap itself will breed love. I know I am being vague but this is the way life is. And even if the author explains what the lyrics actually mean, it will actually mean what it means to me today; as the ‘original meaning’, if there is one, is lost when I first put it on paper. You know what I am intending. (Pardon me, one can never know what the other person is actually intending, but just to put forth the contingent meaning.) I am talking about the gap between what I thought and what I wrote. I am aware I’m getting trapped in a circle here. When one becomes aware of this trap, a song like Awaz germinates. Read on for a line-by-line insight into the song.

Awaz zindagi ki na chhode nishaan: The song of life does not leave any trace, does it? What do you think. My view is that it does not leave any mark and even if it does, it is just a circle. We arrive at the same point from where we had started. Our every action is always treading towards the beautiful beginning. Christianity says ‘bone to bone, dust to dust’ and so does every religion, albeit in a different language. Such an example in my view is too gaudy and literal. A more subtle example one can unravel is when one looks at their everyday work. We do different work, we live different lives but one question crops up at some point or the other in ones life. That question is, “What is the meaning of life?” This question crops up precisely because life does not leave any traces and even if it does, those are just circles.

Parwaaz betuki tera ehsaan: The flight of life is absurd. It has no meaning. Here I am directly addressing life (“tera” here is “life’s”). You may ask why this sudden transition, which doesn’t continue in the next lines. It is deliberate as I did not want any pattern in the lyrics. I wanted them to be as absurd as life.

Ummeed ki naiyya jo mile kahin, yaad rakhne ki ijaazat nahi: Flatly, it means that even if life gives hope that there is a meaning to it, we are forced to forget the meaning. Our memory will deceive us. Life is a journey and the boat that steers us through the ocean of life is a metaphor for the circles I describe earlier. For a moment, we think that this “boat” is the final meaning of life. But the very next day, we realise that it was contingent and we even don’t remember the contingent meaning. Memory is one such spoilt brat on which one can never rely!

Karwatein, surmayee karwatein; Ishaare, bematlab ishaare: The first part is disjointed imageries clubbed together. Life is an eternal sleep. And in this eternal sleep, we make different moves on bed (for those blessed with one). And these moves are gray in colour. They are not flat black or white but rounded gray. They are blurred, not definite. I am reminded of the famous lines of Shakespeare (reminded of them now, not when I wrote these lines): “We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.”
The second part carries similar meaning as “Parwaaz betuki…”
You might be thinking that I am a cynic and a bundle of hopelessness. You are wrong then. My attitude towards life will become apparent when you listen to the last two lines of the song.

Saans lene ki lat yun hi laga dete hain, zindagi tu kyun itna satrangi: Despite these circles and meaninglessness, we live our lives. Living life is an addiction. How is it so? Life is gray. It is a mixture , it is a circle and every time we reach the beginning, it is new. Something gets changed at the beginning and this drives our exploration. Hence, life is colourful.
Eliot’s this line from Four Quartets capture the essence of our song: “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

Please note that these are just my views and in no case the final meaning. I would be happy to hear your thoughts.

[To buy the song on iTunes, click here. To buy it on Hungama app, click here. To check other options to get the track or to set it as your caller tune, visit the buy page.]