Settling big scores

In conversation

Settling big scores

He is probably one of the finest examples of the proverb — slow and steady wins the race. Two years ago, Amaal Mallik composed some songs for Jai Ho!, but although the songs did not do too well, Salman Khan took it upon himself to mentor this son of Daboo Malik and grandson of Sardar Malik.

His breakthrough, like Salman’s earlier protégés Himesh Reshammiya and Sajid-Wajid, came with a single song in a multi-composer film — “Sooraj dooba hai yaaron” from last year’s Roy. Despite the film being a flop, it was the unanimous choice as the biggest hit song of the year.

Major breaks

And from here, Amaal’s progress was not slow at all, but steady! Ek Paheli-Leela saw Amaal compose “Mera saiyyan superstar” and re-create “Tere bin nahin laage jeeya”, both hits. In Hero, he composed the super-hit title-track sung in different versions by Salman himself and Amaal’s singer-brother Armaan Malik. All Is Well (another flop) had the pub-friendly chartbuster “Chaar Shanivaar.” And Hate Story 3 saw a re-creation of “Tumhein apna banane” that was popular.

In 2015, Amaal signed a seven-year contract with T-Series for the music of their film and singles. Last year, the music label launched their first video single with “Zindagi aa rahaa hoon main” featuring Tiger Shroff. It was quickly followed by “Main rahoon ya na rahoon” featuring Emraan Hashmi and more singles with Tiger Shroff, Kriti Sanon and Shilpa Shetty.

The year 2016 has begun on an auspicious note for the young composer. Amaal has bagged awards from Screen, Filmfare and others for his work in 2015, composed songs for Sanam Re..., Mastizaade and above all, the year’s first hit film Airlift. Smiles Amaal, “This is actually my first solo film in which I have composed all the songs. Yes, one song, a kind of re-creation of a 90s Arabic hit, is done by someone else, but that is only because I did not want to do the song.”

The song Amaal is justifiably proudest of is the lovely patriotic track “Tu bhoola jise” that has won him universal admiration and deep respect. “The moment I composed its high-pitched segments I could only visualise KK doing the vocals, because the playback voice had to rise above the live instruments as well. KK is so huge, yet so humble. I know of new singers who behave as if they are doing the composer a favour just by singing his song.”

And that, essentially, is Amaal’s biggest weapon apart from his extraordinary talent and versatility — a level head. His genes and upbringing have ensured this quality that has given him a phenomenal edge among the post-Pritam generation of composers.

“I would give 80 per cent of the credit for my music to my grandfather Sardar Malik and 10 per cent each to dad and my uncle Anu Malik,” says Amaal passionately. “I became a composer only to make my dad proud. We went through terrible times, but dad somehow made sure that Armaan and I got the best possible guidance and opportunities.”

Family first

His grandfather, of course, was his first and main teacher. “I learnt Indian classical from him, and am a graduate from the Trinity College of Music. My uncle Anu was my inspiration for his tenacity and versatility. I remember him calling me after Roy and telling me, ‘I am coming up with Dum Laga Ke Haisha to compete with you.’”

Amaal feels that he owes his success to many others, beginning with Salman Khan  to Pritam, who gave him not less than 40 songs as a programmer and paid him a big amount per song.

Amaal, who has also composed over a hundred jingles, first started out professionally as a programmer for film composers, but was mostly rejected because he was related to Anu and Daboo Malik! “My father was even insulted by some big names who told him that he was earning off his sons by making us perform. But I am grateful to others like Salim-Sulaiman, Sandeep Chowta and Amar Mohile who gave me work and also taught me many things.”

Today, there’s no stopping Amaal. He is working on Neeraj Pandey’s M S Dhoni: The Untold Story as a complete score, and contributing to Karan Johar’s Kapoor & Sons and Baar Baar Dekho. “Rapper Badshah had made a song two years ago and as a programmer, I had given the song a hook. Karan-sir liked the hook and told me to make a song out of it for Kapoor & Sons,” says Amaal.

And for the youngster, these latter two films have a special significance. “My father was to originally work on Karan-sir’s Kal Ho Naa Ho,” he reveals. “But vested interests made sure then that dad was out — and that had hit him really hard!”
The ‘son’ has finally risen on the Daboo Malik family.

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