Lyricist and Writer Sunayana Kachroo on Bringing the Essence of Kashmir Into Her Words
A collaborator with Kashmiri artist Yawar Abdal as well as filmmaker Danish Renzu, the U.S.-based Kachroo recently released a book of poetry and short stories
Writing in English, Hindi, Urdu and Kashmiri, Boston-based lyricist, poet and dialogue writer Sunayana Kachroo has been lending her words to everyone from veteran singer-composer Sonu Nigam to fusion artists like Yawar Abdal (“Yumbarzaloo”). As someone who moved to the U.S. about 20 years ago for work as a business analyst, Kachroo was also invited to Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. in December to recite her poems.
Kachroo recalled the moment and said, “For a Kashmiri girl who conversed on poetry and politics with her father at a young age, climbed apple trees, read A Tale Of Two Cities even before turning 10, moved to the U.S. for work two decades ago; this has been a great journey.” Among her first projects as a lyricist came for fellow Kashmiri filmmaker Danish Renzu’s film Half Widow in 2018, for the song “Kuch Baaqi Hai.” Sung and composed by Nigam, Kachroo notes she also wrote dialog for the Kashmir-centric film; so turning lyricist for the project was natural. “I was very well versed with the emotional arc of the characters,” Kachroo says.
The association with Renzu remained strong, most recently writing lyrics for Noor Mohammad for the reimagined version of folk song “Baliye.” Released in April last year via Zee Music, the lyricist counts it as among the projects which allows her “see parallels and perspectives” in poetry of different regions and languages across the world. With artist Archana Kamath Hegdekar and Shankar Mahadevan, she worked on “Ae Savere,” released in December. Kachroo says, “Lyrics should have an authentic conversational quality that can effortlessly float on a tune.” The core essence, however, remains that of her home, Kashmir. “It is mine and I am because it is. Visual influences are through my childhood memories, lyrical influences are many,” she adds.
As for influences, she counts mystic poets like Lal Ded as well as Wahab Khar, the love poems of Rasool Mir, “fierce” poems of Nadim, the “melancholy laced poems” of Arnimaal and Habba Khatoon and the devotional works of Krishnajoo Razdan. On a wider level, she namechecks the likes of Rumi and Meera to Amrita Pritam, Marathi poet Bahinabai, Gulzar and Louis Gluck.
Alongside a new book of poems, Sunny Side Up, Kachroo also launched an NFT poem called Home and Homeless, selling at $100 on Abris. A portion of the sale goes to HeMath, an organization that empowers Kashmiri women through skill development. There’s a Hindi-Urdu book of poems Tere Jaane Ke Baad set to be published later this year. “I am also working on scripts and screenplay for some feature and short films. I have a song in the pipeline to be released later this year,” Kachroo adds.