Interview By: DRISHTI PANDEY
Amaal Mallik, the sensation of the music industry who gave us tremendous and engaging music ever since his first songs from ‘Jai Ho’ to even recreating the “Neend Churai” from ‘Golmaal Again’ . He does it best to his ability to convey his music in a simpler and most relatable form. We had an exclusive conversation with him regarding his musical journey. Excerpts:
Ever since your debut to till date; how have you evolved as a music composer and singer?
Basically I have assisted several composers and even though there is a lot of perception that I am from one musical family, a lot of people feel that it’s been an easy ride. But to be honest it isn’t been an easy ride but a good 10 year struggle. People feel that I’ve debut in 2014 and since then it’s been great but 2005 – 2006 was the time when I finished my 10th standard and then I started assisting composers like Amar, Salim- Sulaiman, I’ve learnt so much from Pritam Da just listening, assisting, background score, Ad’s, television, so all of that have shaped a lot of my personality also. I learnt a lot from the age of 16 to 23. And then ‘Jai Ho’ happened and it was random because I wasn’t sure if I was going to compose that early because I thought I still have three – four years to take a debut. But it happened all of a sudden I had worked for an album called ‘Armaan’ because some songs he had played to Salman Khan and he really liked the song and that’s how I become a composer in one night. And when I got ‘Jai Ho’ I was still doing the background score of ‘Cocktail’ under Salim-Sulaiman so it was either this or that. It was tough to take a call because I was doing well as a music producer also but it was a dream to be a music composer and then it’s been 2 to 3 years as for now but there has been lot of songs that I have released; around 57 songs. All I want is to surprise myself with every song. I want to be excited that wow! I tried something new and what the reaction with it, is like every song has its destiny so I just want to be able to try new things every day. Till now the love has been awesome. I’ve got love from such small children, parents, grandparents. I am happy that there has been no particular age group that like my music but have been loved by all age groups.
You’ve managed to deliver different kind of music till now, how gratifying you feel about that and also as you said your music has been loved by all age groups so does that raise the expectation?
I remember when “Sooraj Dooba hai” had happened; you personally don’t know when the song will sky rocket and become what. But my one focus is always to write young lyrics even if they are deep thoughts or even Indian. And I always like things to be said in a simpler way. So if you even see the lyrics of my songs it’s a collaboration which comes out with the writers who are way ahead with their knowledge of Urdu, Hindi and poetry. And age wise also like Kumar, Viraj, Manoj, I am at least 25 years younger to them. So I at least understand one thing as my age and not as just a composer. When they throw ideas at me or I throw melodies at them we work together, my most simple thing is that to understand the younger age group or in late 30’s – 40’s they all should enjoy my songs and should understand what I am trying to say. I don’t like to make a song which doesn’t cut through and reach your heart. Songs like from the film ‘M.S.Dhoni’ that was something different and it was a change for me also. Because this was different from all the hit peppy numbers I had done, so all these things I keep in mind. The journey is exciting because when I started off I was a bit nervous because I did a lot of new stuff and sometimes new things are not marketed right, so they don’t reach out as you expect them to. At that point of time it was a little tough because I was also a baby and I am still a baby. I was quite young, I was 23 just finished my graduation and wasn’t ready for the big bad world of Bollywood and because you come with the family name there is a lot of back lash that happens, my uncle has done such tremendous work, my dad has done amazing work, my grandfather, so instead of being the pillar the surname has been a sort of problem for me because of their mountain of hits they have given over the years. So that somewhere people from media and film fraternity were harsh; so it was tough for me, because they expected me to be an overnight sensation and I was too young to do that because I was also learning. But I am happy today and when I look back to the last 2 -3 years, I am glad that my first album didn’t even sky rocket because I had to change my style or get new music out. So, that’s how “Sooraj Dooba hai” and “Naina” from ‘Khoosurat’ happened in the same year. Not even many people knew that “Naina” was my song because “Sooraj Dooba hai” made everyone realize that this music composer has got something new like an EDM genre into Bollywood. My main aim is to try new things and keep enjoying and for me the turning point would be films like ‘Airlift’, ‘Kapoor & Sons’ , ‘ Baaghi’, ‘Sarabjit’ , ‘M.S Dhoni’. And because the films were all different from each other & I got to do different songs. So I think the film is the most important thing if you have great subject every time you get to do different music.
How does the process of pitching songs to the producers / director’s work, do you give them options as per their demand or you have a bank of music?
I really don’t have a bank sort of thing. As a musician I obviously make songs on a regular basis. But first what I do is meet every producer, director and understand what mind space they are from and what kind of music they want for their film. Many things like the character, story, and with all this I have understood one thing that if you are doing a great and big film; somewhere my focus remains to make simple melodies which stand out with the film and also on a platform like radio. Because that’s the place where the real victory of the song is and people listen to your song and request it. I have a lot of friends who are not inclined towards Bollywodd music but there are some songs of mine which they really like. So that makes me understand what works in here by just hanging out with young people. I am just 27 years but still I hang out with younger kids to see what they listen to. So my focus is to make good music, in films sometimes it happens that you see a situation and you relate to it. So some things come out from personal experience, some things comes out from friends – like “Sooraj Dooba Hai”, the line ‘Matlabi’ came out randomly; cause my friends use to call me when I got busy with my career. So I told Kumar the idea and how the whole situation was so it stem out of all these things. Some songs like “Kaun Tuje” Manoj and I had randomly made and not for any film, and that was the only song which came from the bank I would say; so there was never a bank. It was something that I heard and wrote it as a boy and we thought it as a male protagonist song but when we heard the film so we were like – it can be way more effective to get it from a female point of view. The whole situation gave more importance to song. Apart from all my other films ‘ M.S. Dhoni’ was something that I had to match the vision with Neeraj Pandey, in all his films he has not done a musical but his films are mainly hard hitting, realistic, strong subject; so all of that. And this was the first time when a director who himself doesn’t come from the music focus background told me he wanted 7 songs – so that was really challenging for me. So I worked and tried my best and did new things, “Besabriyaan” when I composed it, I wasn’t sure how it has come out but when I perform it in colleges, I see so many young people that it inspires them. Music for me is the reaction to what I hear and what I see.
You have sung a few own composed songs, so how much do you enjoy that process?
Actually I am a task master when it comes to singing, all the singers who have worked with me; love me and hate me too. (Laughs) There is Arijit, Armaan, we have a very healthy debate to try different things and work together to make our songs good. I rarely sing, I would like to sing a certain number of songs but that completely depends on if my voice suits it or not then only I sing it. Like “Aashiq Surrender Hua” was a scratch which I did for ‘Badrinath Ki Dulhanai’ – when I saw the video with Varun, Shashank, Karan sir, that time I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep my voice, they were the ones who felt that the lip sync went so well with Varun and his age; that they wanted to let it be. And the story behind it is very funny because the film’s album has been so successful. The song like “Aashiq Surrender Hua” is so balanced because a word like surrender is something that the general masses will know, every random person. So I wanted something which they can connect to and we had funny lyrics and it was approved easily. So, I think when the song suits my voice that’s the time I get on the mike and sing. I think a song always chooses its singer, when the song is ready, only then I think about whose voice would suit the song. And till date with how many ever singers I have collaborated the audience have always accepted and liked the songs. Even for “Sooraj Dooba Hai” – Arijit had asked me if I was sure to take his voice for this song because he is known for true blood romantic songs and “Sooraj Dooba hai” was totally the opposite. And this is what excites me when people think how you thought of getting him onboard. So I like experimenting things and it works for me.
“I feel blessed that I could make something like “Main Rahoon Ya Na Rahoo”
You have too created music for the recreated songs, so it is difficult or it adds on a pressure of keeping the iconic songs in mind?
Out of all 50 – 60 songs I have done in past 2 years, there have been 2 or 3 remixes and most of my work has been original. And I really love making original songs and I feel every composer loves doing that. But it’s a trend and it is working for the producers but somewhere I feel it is an overkill. It gets out of hand when there are too many remixes. This year very few original songs has been stuck out and remix have worked more but in my remix what I do is that I always have a fight with myself – if I attempt any classic or any song it has to have my angle to it. Even when I did “Soch Na sake” and “Kar Gai Chull”, I collaborated with Badshah and others. And I try to make new stanza which are not there in the original, so I like to recompose in a way that it becomes my song equally. There is a difference between doing a remix and just doing remixes, because it just becomes like you just take the original and adds new beats so that I think any music producers who have a good sense of sound can do it. So my focus is to make originals and sometimes it becomes like in ‘Golmaal Returns’, being such a great franchise, I did an original called “Hum Nahi Sudherege” but they wanted a “Neend Churayi” remix but if you see apart from the hook everything in the song is different. So I always fight for that and my producers, directors and label also trust me that – if I do a remix it will be more like an original. But I want to stick to my originals and not do much of remix because it’s a trend that will fade out. And remixing is a big responsibility because tomorrow if you do 20 remix of iconic songs the original composers should not get hurt or they should feel that anyone has spoilt their song. That is something I take care of because I know if in future some song of mine is recreated and not made well, then I would feel bad about it. I have literally let go 11 films because they had remix because I didn’t wanted to do them but I don’t mind other people doing it.
Are you an exclusive artist of any particular label as you seem to be working only with T-series?
Since I have done a lot of work with T-series the common perception of people is that I am their exclusive artist. I have the highest regard for Bhushanji but I would like to clarify this matter once and for all that – I am legally free to work for any label, producers and production houses as I have done in the past ‘Baar Baar Dekho’ with Zee and ‘Kapoor & Sons’ with Sony.
If you had to pick your favorite song which one would it be?
I think I feel blessed that I could make something like “Main Rahoon Ya Na Rahoon” this song of mine was a single with Emraan Hashmi and Esha Gupta. Which was non film song but that is something I did because nowadays lot of people don’t do Hindi pop which is almost dead, but I wanted to do it and I gave my all, and today when I see that song where it stands with so many views and likes. It’s incredible and I don’t know when I will get a chance to create something as amazing as that. That will be my benchmark always. To get the soul and the honesty in this song was all my love.