Javed Akhtar recalls Ashutosh Gowariker sent him SOS message during Swades; here's why

Director Ashutosh Gowariker sent out an urgent SOS to lyricist Javed Akhtar, requesting his immediate presence on the sets of Swades for a last-minute song composition. Read full story!

Updated on Feb 17, 2024  |  04:38 PM IST |  58.9K
Javed Akhtar recalls Ashutosh Gowariker sent him SOS message during Swades; here's why
Picture Courtesy - IMDb

Renowned lyricist Javed Akhtar's enduring legacy includes his work on the songs of Ashutosh Gowariker’s 2004 film Swades, which still captivates music enthusiasts. In a fascinating revelation, Akhtar shared the backstory of crafting the song Pal Pal Hai Bhaari, recalling how director Ashutosh Gowariker urgently summoned him to the film's sets in Maharashtra.

Javed Akhtar penned Pal Pal Hai Bhaari song from Shah Rukh Khan's Swades overnight

In an interview with Harper Broadcast, Javed Akhtar recounted a pivotal moment during the making of Swades. Ashutosh Gowariker reached out to him urgently, calling him to the village of Wai with an SOS message. Music composer A.R. Rahman was set to travel abroad in just two days, and Akhtar was tasked with writing a song within one day—a process that typically took him one to two hours.

Given the tight timeline, the pressure was on. After the day's shoot, Gowariker visited Akhtar in his room, informing him that Rahman would arrive the following day, and they had transformed a suite into a makeshift recording studio. The composer would depart the day after.

When asked about the situation for the song, Akhtar was surprised by the simplicity of the director's response. He was told it revolved around a Ramleela in the village, with Sita Ji in Ashok Vatika confronted by Ravana. The demon king questions Sita's devotion to Lord Ram, sparking a dialogue between them.


This brief left Akhtar taken aback. He expressed his need for time and references from the Ram Charitra Manas to handle such a sensitive topic. However, Ashutosh reassured him, expressing his confidence in Akhtar's abilities, and left him alone in the hotel room to compose the song.

"I generally sleep at 1:30, 2 am. But I slept at 9 am out of fear. I got up around 5 am. There was some light. I saw the cassette and player and I thought that I would write a few lines and tell him it’s not happening," recalled Akhtar.

As he sat down to write, Akhtar realized that in just two hours, he had finished the song. When the filmmaker arrived, he recited it, and it was well-received. The song was then recorded. Akhtar found himself surprised at how he could manage under such pressure.

The song received a positive response, and Akhtar received several compliments. However, one particular compliment has stayed with him till now. When the music was released, scholars who were well-versed in Ramcharitmanas and Sanskrit praised his work, noting the brilliance in how he used Tulsidas ji's arguments from Ramcharitmanas.

Akhtar admits he had no idea about this influence. He wonders if his childhood experiences of watching Ramleelas in Lucknow or some subconscious influence played a role in his writing. Regardless, he will never forget the tension and insecurity he felt when given this task.

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Sanchi Gupta is your ultimate Bollywood buff. She traded in her finance and HR degree for the glitz and


Credits: Harper Broadcast

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