Punjabi singer Simiran Kaur Dhadli’s 2019 song Sahiba is another heart-wrenching rendition of the tragic romance of Mirza-Sahiban, a popular folktale that originated in Punjab. However, those unfamiliar with this story, which has been revisited in popular culture several times, can tune into podcaster and screenwriter Vrinda Hayaat Vaid’s recent project The Naghma Podcast (TNP).
Launched in 2021, TNP—an exclusive on the women-centric audio platform, Sochcast—delves into the stories behind numerous memorable tracks from India’s mainstream film industry. Through this audio programme, the podcaster attempts to pay a tribute to Indian lyricists as well as their art. “A song is like a seed that comes to someone’s mind; that seed becomes an entire tree over a course of time. So, what is the process of that seed turning to a tree is what we look at through TNP,” comments Vaid.
A matter of languages
A literature graduate from Delhi University, Vaid has always been keen on comprehending the role that language plays in our lives. “I am interested in how language defines our day-to-day life, how it makes relationships possible, how it eases life, especially our mother tongue,” the 24-year-old shares. In a way, TNP can be described as an amalgamation of Vaid’s fascination with phonetics and her love for films and songs.
In every episode, the Vikaspuri resident dissects each song with an aim to decode the diverse meanings hidden in the track’s multiple layers. “Har nagme ki apni ek kahani hoti hai (Every song has a tale of its own),” Vaid mentions. In this process, she also throws light on the context of a song and the role it might have played in a larger capacity.
The product just isn’t an insight into films and the entertainment space but also a glimpse of our history and culture. For instance, in the fourth episode of TNP, Vaid discusses the classic song Mohe Panghat Pe from the 1960 Indian epic historical drama, Mughal-E-Azam. She continues to explain how Radha Krishna Raas-Leela songs such as the aforementioned one have been a symbol of religious harmony for decades.
Vaid conducts extensive research before creating an episode, the production process of which often takes weeks. In her podcast, she not only incorporates her own interpretation of a song but at times, speaks to the track’s lyricists and composers about the making of these numbers.
The art of lyricism
The role that lyricists play in the making of a successful song has always been undermined. In 2020, 15 noted lyricists from the Indian music industry including Swanand Kirkire, Amitabh Bhattacharya, Neelesh Misra, Varun Grover, and others, collaborated to produce a video called Credits de do yaar (Give us credits) with a purpose. The artists wanted music labels and streaming platforms to add lyricists’ names in song credits. Vaid’s podcast is, thus, a medium that helps draw attention to the part lyricists play in the making of a melodious track.
While Vaid currently focuses on mainstream music in Urdu, Hindi, and Punjabi, she looks forward to talking about other musical genres and languages in the future. “I want to cover songs that aren’t entirely soothing or calm. I want to talk about hip hop, R&B, and rock too. But then, it is important that the songs have some substance, something that I can deliver to the audience” says the aspiring lyricist.
A regular listener of TNP, Mumbai-based voice and a dialect coach, Hetal Varia (35), concludes, “I like ghazals, shayaris, nazms, and Vrinda has a good hold on the same.”