Varun Grover (writer)
18 July 1980|
Sundernagar, Himachal Pradesh, India
|Alma mater||Indian Institute of Technology (BHU) Varanasi|
|Occupation||Screenplay writer, lyricist, director|
Early life and education
Grover was born in Sundernagar, Himachal Pradesh, to a school-teacher mother and army engineer father. He spent his initial years in Sundernagar and Dehradun, Uttarakhand, before moving to Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh for his adolescent years. He studied civil engineering at Indian Institute of Technology (BHU) Varanasi, graduating in 2003.
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After briefly working as a software consultant in Pune, he moved to Mumbai in 2004 to become a writer. In 2005 he was one of six staff writers with the TV series The Great Indian Comedy Show. He later moved into stand-up comedy, and works as lyrics writer and screenplay writer for the Hindi film industry.
He speaks affectionately of the deep impact most mainstream films of the 1990s had on him. He was intensely moved by Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, Rajshri Productions superhit musical family drama of 1994 (starring Madhuri Dixit and Salman Khan).
"I watched Renuka Shahane die in the film on a Friday. I waited with bated breath until Sunday morning to catch her on Surabhi, the cultural magazine show on Doorsdarshan which she hosted then. When I finally saw her alive, I had tears in my eyes," he recalled.
Grover who grew up in Himachal Pradesh, Dehradun and Lucknow, wrote poetry for friends and for children’s magazines. Later, at BHU, he started scripting plays that the college theatre team took to the national youth festivals. "I’d moved from writing for my diary to writing for stage. It was the first time I felt I had the confidence to write professionally," he said.
When he got a job in Pune, he knew he didn’t want to be an engineer for life and started building contacts with ad agencies, "knowing I’d get paid about one-fourth of what I was being offered at the software job." Owing to his zeal for writing, he quit his job and jumped onto the writing bandwagon without a secure source of income. Owing to his lack of references, initially he struggled to find a writing assignment and finally landed a television serial as one of the co-writers.
While writing consistently for television shows like Dus Ka Dum, Oye It’s Friday, The Great Indian Comedy Show and others, Grover was waiting for his chance to write for films. "The industry intimidated me earlier," he said. "Either I wasn’t cut out for it then or I wasn’t meeting the right people."
Out of desperation he did sign a film titled Accident on Hill Road, starring Farooq Sheikh and Celina Jaitley, that was released in 2010. "I realized how wrong it was. You just end up having ordinary films on your CV," he said. That is when he decided to step back. His wait ended when Grover connected with Anurag Kashyap through the indie film website Passion for Cinema, and eventually wrote the lyrics for Kashyap’s That Girl in Yellow Boots and Gangs of Wasseypur, despite having considered himself to be essentially a scriptwriter. His songs like Womaniya, Hunter and Jiya Tu became chartbusters.
Prose remains Grover’s first love. "Lyrics main dimag se likhta hoon. Kahaani dil se (I write lyrics from the head, scripts from the heart)," he admitted. "I don’t know if that’s right or wrong. A lot of people tell me it shouldn’t be this way. But it works for me."
And perhaps it is his passion to tell a story that works for him even when he writes a song. Sharad Katariya, director of Dum Laga Ke Haisha, whose songs Grover wrote vouched for this.
"In India, our films are known for their music. But in this case, Varun’s words really made the film. Ideas for so many scenes came from his songs. "
For the much-loved Moh Moh Ke Dhaage, he worked on the tune music director Anu Malik had composed, but Katariya said "he took it to another level." The writer clearly has a broad understanding of cinema and art. "When I approached him, he first read the script and gave me feedback as a filmmaker. Then he wrote the songs suited to the milieu and language keeping intact the graph of the characters and the humour of the plot," Katariya said.
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|Raman Raghav 2.0||2016||Lyricist|
|Dum Laga Ke Haisha||2015||Lyricist|
|Gangs of Wasseypur – Part 2||2012||Lyricist|
|Gangs of Wasseypur – Part 1||2012||Lyricist|
|That Girl in Yellow Boots||2011||Lyricist|
|Accident on Hill Road||2009||Dialogue writer|
|Jay Hind!||2009–14||Lead Writer|
|10 Ka Dum||2008-09||Writer|
|Oye! It's Friday!||2008-09||Writer|
|Ranvir Vinay Aur Kaun?||2007-08||Writer|
|SAB Ka Bheja Fry||2007||Writer|
|The Great Indian Comedy Show||2004-06||Writer|
|Sacred Games (TV series)||2018||Writer|
Awards and nominations
- Won Best Lyrics award at 63rd National Film Awards 2015–16
- Won Best Lyricist award at Zee Cine Awards 2015 
- Won Best Lyricist award at Guild Awards 2015 
- Won Lyricist of The Year award at Mirchi Music Awards 2015 for "Moh Moh Ke Dhaage" from Dum Laga Ke Haisha
- Nominated for Best Lyricist at 61st Filmfare Awards 2016
- Nominated for Best Raaga-based song for Aayi Bahaar of Ankhon Dekhi at the Mirchi Music Awards 2014
- Nominated for Best Lyrics for Womaniya of Gangs of Wasseypur – Part 1 at the Apsara Film & Television Producers Guild Award 2013
- Awarded for Best Screenplay and Best Lyrics for song "Tu Kisi rail si" from movie Masaan at the Stardust Award 2015.
- "63rd National Film Awards" (PDF). Directorate of Film Festivals. Retrieved 13 February 2018.
- Pal, Divya (28 March 2016). "National Award winning lyricist Varun Grover recalls initial reactions to 'Moh Moh Ke Dhaage'". Retrieved 13 February 2018.
- "Varun Grover (Civil 2003) wins award as Best Lyricist at 63rd National Film Awards 2016". Retrieved 13 February 2018.
- "Brutal censors give another route to creativity: 'Masaan' writer Varun Grover". The Indian Express. 2015-10-07. Retrieved 2018-01-19.
- "IITBHUGlobal.org: The Chronicle: Interview with Varun Grover (Civil 2003)- creative script writer for Film and TV industry". www.itbhuglobal.org. Retrieved 2015-09-06.
- "'Just Do Your Own Thing' — Varun Grover, Wasseypur Lyricist, on The Art of Script Writing". masscommbuzz.com. 8 August 2012. Retrieved 2015-11-03.
- "Liberal in his thoughts". Daily Post India. Retrieved 2015-11-25.
- "EXCLUSIVE: Varun Grover on His Journey, the Film Industry, & Sexism in Standup Comedy". The Better India. 2017-03-20. Retrieved 2018-01-19.
- "Neeraj Ghaywan, Varun Grover to donate National Award prize money to farmers". The Indian Express. 2016-05-04. Retrieved 2018-01-19.
- Jha, Lata (5 August 2015). "Masaan man Varun Grover's journey: A civil engineer turned Bollywood scriptwriter". Mint.
- "Review: The Criminal Life in Mumbai in 'Sacred Games'". The New York Times. 6 July 2018. Retrieved 15 July 2018.
- "Sacred Games review: The Devil of the Details". The Indian Express. 30 June 2018. Retrieved 15 July 2018.
- "Yes, 'Bombay Velvet' Is Pretty Atrocious, But We Should Not Be Happy About It". Huffington Post. 15 May 2015.
- "Zee Cine Awards: Complete List of Winners". NDTV. 21 February 2016.
- "Guild Awards 2015". DNA India. 23 December 2015.