Not long ago, Pooja Saini was writing jingles at a regular job in Gurgaon, harbouring dreams of cracking showbiz. Then, someone recognised her talent as a writer-songwriter, and she was soon making her way to Mumbai.
She has made her Bollywood foray, penning the title track of the film “Fauji Calling”, which finds theatrical release this weekend. The song, “Peer meri piya jaane na” has been set to tune by composer Harpriet Singh Vig and sung by Rabbani Mustafa Khan.
Pooja finds the journey, that has taken her about four years, somewhat surreal.
“I come from an ordinary background in Gurgaon and it is a big deal for my family that I am working in Bollywood. No one from my family is from that background. We are quite traditional in that sense, and to reach Mumbai and start work here has been a big thing. My parents are so proud of me,” says Pooja.
“In fact, when my mom hears my songs, she doesn’t even know how to react. They often tell relatives also about my work. I got a call from my school friends saying that they knew that I will make it big. It feels so amazing to get such calls,” she adds.
The 33-year-old has done her masters from IGNOU and her husband Prakash Bhardwaj is the founder of a digital promotion company.
Jog your memory down Bollywood lane, and you realise despite the winds of change, the number of female writers in Bollywood has always been minuscule, and the number of female lyricists ever lesser. Pooja mentions the gruelling demand of the job as the biggest challenge.
“Bollywood is tough, as the competition here is immense. I have been lucky to get work. You need to suit whatever you write to the requirement of a song or a movie, so it is tough to sustain. People are tough and they want you to come back with the lyrics in a day or two and at times you just don’t get the inspiration,” she says.
Ask her if she was scared to enter the big bad world of Bollywood, and she says: “There are bad people in the industry but my experience has been good till now. Writers, though, don’t really interact with too many people. I just have to give my work to the music director and go. For me, my dignity is the most important. Also, I guess the fact that I am a Haryanvi is why people keep their distance!” she laughs.
If she cannot think of lyrics or is undergoing a writer’s block, she just takes a break. “I just leave it. So, it all depends on who I am working for. If I feel that the person who I am working with will give more time, I ask for time. But at times you have to fight your way to get more time,” she says.
Pooja is currently writing the web series Saare Jahaan Se Acha, and also the script and screenplay for a couple of films.