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Prasoon Joshi's response to aggrieved fathers who sensed a bias in Taare Zameen Par song 'Maa'

At a masterclass at the 49th International Film Festival of India in Goa last month, the CBFC chairman and acclaimed lyricist shared a fascinating tale about his work in Aamir Khan's Taare Zameen Par.

Mayur Lookhar

Writing lyrics for films is all about expressing a given situation. But the beauty of human emotion is such that the same song may evoke different sentiments in different individuals. And if some words hurt someone, others can pacify them.

Lyricist Prasoon Joshi, currently chairman of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), shared an interesting story from his work in the modern classic Taare Zameen Par (2007), which starred Aamir Khan and Darsheel Safary and was produced and directed by the superstar.

Taare Zamen Par completes 11 years today as it was released on 21 December 2007.

Apart from its endearing and moving story, Taare Zameen Par is loved dearly for its music, scored by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy with Joshi penning the lyrics.

The most memorable and moving track was 'Maa', meaning mother. While the song was a reflection of the feelings of little Ishaan Awasthi, the autistic boy played by Safary, it struck a chord with the child in many adults. Joshi won the National award and the Filmfare award for Best Lyrics for the song while Shankar Mahadevan bagged the National award for Best Playback Singer (Male).

Yet, while responding to a question on the transition from poetry to songwriting at a masterclass on 'Lyrical Imagination Unleashed' at the 49th International Film Festival of Goa last month, Joshi revealed that there were some fathers who sensed a bias against them in the song.

Reciting a couple of verses from the song, he said, “I wrote this song. Later, I received letters from many fathers who said we are not so bad. You have written wrongly. As a poet you start feeling responsible, you question yourself, did you do something wrong,"

Of course, there was no scope for changing the song since the film had already been released. And since the only way a writer can redeem himself is through words, the poet took over from the songwriter and penned some endearing thoughts in response to the aggrieved fathers.

Maa ki tareef karte karte, pata nahi kab mai pita ke virudh ho gaya
Pita ke virudh maine kabhi kuch nahi kaha
Par maa ki tareef mein pita ke prati naraazgi swatehi aa jaati hai shayad
Kya pita ka dosh pita hona hai, ya purush hona, ya samarth hona?
Mai pita ke saamne dheeth hoon, maa ke saamne shaitaan
Mai pita ke saamne chattan hoon, maa ke saamne nadi
Mai maa ke liye chup jaata hoon aur pita se chupta hoon
Mai maa ke saamne prashna ki gulai hoon
Aur pita ke saamne uttar ki nok
Mai maa ki gode mein sama jaata hoon aur pita ki tan mein tan kar baithta hoon
Maa ke achar ke boye aam agar dhup se juda hote hain, toh mai unhe dhoop mein sirrka deta hoon
Par pita ki fileon se girte kaagazon pe mujhe kabhi taras nahi aaya
Maine kayi bar socha hai pita se lamba hone ke bare mein
Par maa se apni kabhi lambai nahi naapi
Maine maa ke baal bhi kheeche hain jhujhlakar, cheeka hoon maa par, patke hain pair
Par pita ke saamne khud ko naaptol kar paish kiya hai
Kya mai vidroh karta raha hoon pita ki satta ke khilaaf?
Kya maa ka praja hona ussey mere kareeb lata hain?
Kya mai aisa karta agar maa ki satta hoti?
Kya mai tab bhi ussey isi tarah prem karta?
uski shakti saamne khadi hoti aur mai fileon se kaagaz sameth raha hota

Singing mum's praises, I can't recall when I turned against dad
I never said anything against him
But perhaps angst against the father shows up in praise for the mother?
Is it dad's fault that he is dad, a man, capable and strong?
Why am I insolent for him, just mischievous for her
Like a rock in his path, but a gurgling stream for her
Hiding away from him, happy to hide myself for her
A fount of questions for mum
Just a sharp retort for dad
So comfortable in her lap, stiff in his presence
Ever eager to help her, never willing to do his bidding
How many times have I thought about growing taller than dad
But I have never competed with mum
I've pulled her hair, screamed at her, stomped my feet
But in his presence I have always kept my cool
Have I just been rebelling silently against dad?
Is that why I feel closer to mum?
Would I have behaved the same if mum were ruling?
Would I have loved her the same?
Would I have been as eager to help?
(Translated by Cinestaan.com)

So this is the way you learn, he said. "Writing songs is poetry for me. There is, of course, a situation you are writing for, but it is a personal journey as well. You are exploring constantly the emotions you encounter in life. Certain things you feel were correct today, tomorrow you feel maybe what you thought at that time wasn’t that, and you feel very differently. I think that is a journey. For me it is like constant exploration."

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