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Meet India’s greatest lyricist Manoj Muntashir- who slept with Mumbai beggars for 6 months

An amazingly talented lyricist and poet, Manoj Muntashir, was born into a small farming family in Gauriganj, Uttar Pradesh. He started his career as a scriptwriter for the popular TV show Kaun Banega Crorepati and later entered the music industry as a lyricist. He has written several hit songs including Galliyan, Tere Sang Yaara, Kaun Tujhe, Phir Bhi Tumko Chaahunga, Ter Mitti, and so on. He is so proficient in conveying emotions through words that he was allotted to write the script for the dubbed version of Baahubali 2 and Black Panther, Marvel Studios. However being from a humble background, his intermittent struggle to succeed has left all of us speechless. In an interview, he disclosed how he left for Mumbai to work and didn’t have a roof over his head to sleep. Here’s his inspirational story, read below. 

Bombay Days

Manoj had struggled through his days of misfortune when he used to reside on a footpath back in Andheri West for one and half years with several Mumbai beggars. Initially, he sought shelter in a small paint warehouse equivalent to the size of a bathroom.  The room was so compact and dark that he didn’t have enough space to even lie down. Discomforted with a sore body, he resorted to the streets where he was free and subsequently became friends with the beggars and small stall owners.

Food became the far-flung subsequent problem for the humble lyricist who could barely make his ends meet. Yet, his friends never failed to provide the artist with samosas and jalebis. Once one of his fellow mates had micturated on his face under intoxication while he was asleep. Subjected to humiliation, he thought of returning to Gauriganj. Hope had come to a standstill but the bare minimum, his gratitude, and humbleness have kept him alive through the hardships of Bombay.

‘Yeh Bombai hae yaha koi nahi puchta hae par yeh Bombai mujhe puchegi kyuki mere pass hae kuch Bombai ko dene ke liye’ (the old proverb suggests that no one shall know your whereabouts in Mumbai but Mumbai will take notice of me once I have it all to return the generosities of the city)

Relentlessly striving for work in Bandra, Manoj came across a book called Music Master that had enlisted many phone numbers and addresses. He took down an address and went to meet Anup Jalota without an appointment. Typically, Manoj has never equipped himself with bhajans, he left to his own imagination and jotted down some important lines to impress Anup Ji, the bhajan maestro. Anup Ji was impressed and offered him a paycheck. Manoj who never had a bank account and traveled on foot from Bandra to Shivaji Park with three rupees in his pocket had received an amount of three thousand rupees for the first time.

Music Opportunity

Manoj narrates another incident when he was scouring production houses to production houses for work, and despite fixing a meeting with an anonymous big company, he was discriminated against and thrown out of the building owing to his drenched shoes in the Mumbai rain. Despite living off the streets, he turned down many offers for ghostwriting lyrics in return for a huge sum. To Manoj, he possessed certain values from childhood that taught him never to kneel before easy money.

Dated to 2005, Manoj remembers his first film U bomsi n me being released in which he was the lyricist. He sought to the theatre to watch his film with his two companions however the ticket counter attendant sadly remarked that they wouldn’t play the movie for three people alone. Coming back to 2016, Manoj says he and his wife Neelam again could not buy the tickets, but this time the movie was no other than the smashing hit Baahubali 2.

Journey to Kaun Banega Crorepati

On being asked about experience with the popular television show Kaun Banega Crorepati, he says he met Amitabh Bachhan in a meeting at JW Mariott in 2002-03. Manoj was very nervous and intimidated, he couldn’t think of anything other than the mindless chatter about the world and his writing. He continued speaking for five minutes and then suddenly was abrupted by Bachchan who commended Manoj’s fluency in the Hindi language. Manoj left after the meeting and while sitting inside the bus, he received a call from Siddhartha Basu, TV producer, and director, and was immediately asked to join the show. He was by then earning fifteen thousand rupees per episode. He subsequently worked with Basu in many reality shows such as Jhalak Dikh Laja, Sachh Ka Saamna, and many superstars such as Shah Rukh Khan and Akshay Kumar in MasterChef India. He entered the music industry and worked with Bhushan Kumar and T Series and gave back to back amazing songs including the entire MS Dhoni album.

Manoj’s struggle for 21 years is an inspiration for many artists across the country who must stay true to themselves and their goals and must keep at it tirelessly without taking the shorter route to fame and success.

Written by Shreya Pal

Shreya is an avid lover of Russian movies. She wishes to be a script writer.

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