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Amaal Mallik began his career with Salman Khan’s Jai Ho two years ago. However, in the short span of time, he has carved a niche for himself with several hit songs such as Kar Gayi Chull (Kapoor & Sons), Sooraj Dooba Hai (Roy) and Sau Aasman (Baar Baar Dekho) to his credit. We caught with the singer-composer recently for a fun chat. Excerpts:
MS Dhoni - The Untold Story was your first solo project. How challenging or easy was it?
This is the first project where I changed my music completely. Till now, I was known for Sooraj Dooba Hai (Roy) and Chull (Kapoor & Sons) among others, but this was the first time wherein I got a chance to make songs according to the story and was even involved in the narration of the script. Neeraj sir (Pandey, the director), Manoj Muntashir (lyricist) sat together and made music for one-and-half month. Usually we have a bank of songs and the composer picks the ones he deems fit for the situations in the film. For MS Dhoni - The Untold Story we made about 27 songs and shortlisted 6; by far, this was my toughest project. I have learnt how to make a song for a situation and yet keep it audience friendly.
In an era where the trend is to have multiple composers on board, getting an entire album is a big thing. How did you bag MS Dhoni?
I have been a part of several multi composer projects, which have been successful. However, the whole approach changes when a film demands a certain sound which can only be done by one composer. Dhoni couldn’t have had five composers because it has an orchestral rock arrangement and follows a tone. The only song I presented to Neeraj Pandey from my collection was Kaun Tujhe, everything else was composed according to the situation. When I made Besabriyaan, that’s when Neeraj felt that this boy has understood the film. He was throwing challenges at me and I was trying to crack it.
Your music has influences of Pritam and Salim Sulaiman...
Everyone has a style. With songs such as Sooraj Dooba Hai (Roy) and Sau Aasman (Baar Baar Dekho) I have been able to bring EDM to Bollywood. Also, since I have worked with Pritam da and Salim Sulaiman, I am bound to be influenced by them. In fact, I had my uncle, dad and grandfather’s influence on my music too, but I always wanted to break away from that and do something new. I am just a couple of years old in Bollywood, but in the time have managed to create my space.
Do producers and directors dictate terms as far as making music is concerned?
There has to be a fine balance. A producer would want his film to make money; it’s business. Music composers also have a huge responsibility because if the album does well, it will add Rs10-15 crore to the film’s collection. However, sometimes producers tend to get too fixated and demand a certain kind of song to be able to grab eyeballs. Having a reference point is good, but being too fixated is not a good idea. I don’t like when my own song from an earlier film is used a reference point because that way I won’t be discovering anything new. Producers put in money, so there hold on the film is justified but a director should also be able to voice is opinion too as he as a vision for the film.
Do you think recreating a song helps the film?
This is the trend right now. When the revamp is done in a cool way, it works for the film, but if everyone starts doing it, it can get monotonous. Now every album has one song that’s recreated. I have done Chul, Soch Na Sake (Airlift) and made them bigger than the originals, wherein the creators of the song have called me up and praised my version. It’s more about finding yourself in the song and taking it to the next level. My motto while recreating a song is that I should make the track sound at par with the original, if not better.
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Are you happy recreating songs?
It’s not fun to recreate. If someone asks me to recreate a Tare Gin Gin Yaad by Sukhbir, I won’t be able to do it since it’s a legendary song. Personally, I love the song so much that I don’t think I would be able to add anything to it.
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A lot of your films have had great melodies, but they tanked at the box-office. How disappointing is this for a composer?
I am not attached to any of songs I do. Once the song is shot and released, I move on. However, it’s very important that both the film and songs do well because that way the track gets a longer life. But having said that, I don’t go into my shell feeling bad. Success and failure is only a feather in your cap. If your song is doing well despite the film tanking at the box office then it doesn’t matter to an artiste. But if the film is a hit, he/she is a part of a big project.
Do you have differences with your brother Armaan?
Every day. We have arguments every day. Sometimes I even beat him up. Hona bhi chahiye because he is from a different school of music. He has learnt Hindustani classical music and I have studied English classical. But we manage to find a middle way. There are times that he doesn’t like song I have composed and he tells me that there’s no chance that the track will work. Then the song does really well. But when I compose, dad and Armaan are the first ones to hear it. They are my best critics.
Tell us one song where both of you were not on the same page..
I am a very tough music director. I don’t pay heed to suggestions --especially from the singers -- unless it’s outright amazing. Every composer has the liberty of making 5 singers sing a song and then choose the best one. We had recorded the single Main Rahoon Ya Na Rahoon, but I didn’t like it at all. The sur was perfect but I felt that it didn’t have emotions. Armaan and I had a massive show down and he left the studio. He even told my dad that I am not open to suggestions. But now that the song is a hit, he thanks me for the grill. It’s about whose decisions are making sense. At times even I say things which are stupid.
You have worked with greats like Shaan, Sonu Nigam and several composers of this generation. How different are the veterans as compared to the younger lot?
In a span of two years, I have worked with Arijit (Singh), Armaan and a few other newbie singers. Legends like Sonu Nigam and Shaan are very hard working, but laziness prevails in the present generation except in the guys that I have named. There are times that a singer says, ‘I am recording a song, aap dekh lena.’ Sonu Nigam would ask me if he sang correctly after every line. I don’t think a successful singer with 30 years worth of experience would even ask someone with just 2 years of experience if he is on the right track. They have that respect for a composer and are open to re-recording lines if I ask them to. They do not rely on auto tuners and that’s something the younger generation of singers needs to learn from them.
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