Salman Sir Has A Terrific Music Sense
With the popularity of Hindi film music steadily increasing, one name seems to be shining brighter than the slew of new names entering the industry. Amaal Mallik may boast of musical veterans like Sardar Mallik, Anu Mallik and Daboo Mallik as family, but the young composer has truly created a reputation for his musical ingenuity, and his ability to churn out chart-topping numbers so early in his career.
With his latest track, ‘Main Hoon Hero Tera’, sung by Salman Khan clocking in over 25 million views on YouTube, the youngster is obviously on a musical high. Pandolin sat down with him as he spoke to us about his early entry in the music industry, the reception he’s been receiving and an irrefutably bright future.
You have had quite the explosive start in music composing and production, that too at such a young age. How would you describe the reception so far?
It’s beautiful. 2015 has been a great year for me starting from Sooraj Dooba Hain for which I’d like to thank Kumar Sir for penning the lyrics, Zindagi Aa Raha Hoon Main with Manoj Muntashir and now Main Hoon Hero Tera with Kumaar Sir again. The latter has been beautifully rendered by my brother Armaan Malik for the original version and equally well rendered by Salman (Khan) Sir for the promotional version.
Actually no one knows my back story. I began working as an assistant since the age of 16 with my father Daboo Mallik, and then went on to work with Amar Mohile, Salim-Sulaiman, Pritam Da, & Sandeep Chowta. I have worked on background scores of about 25 feature films namely Sarkar, Shootout at Lokhandwala, Paan Singh Tomar, Rowdy Rathore, R….Rajkumar, Cocktail, Race 2, Heroine & Youngistan to name a few. In the last five years I’ve composed around 150 jingles (30 international jingles) with top directors like Kailash Surendranath, Jeet Surendranath, Bodhayan Mukherjee, Arjun Sablok, Prahlad Kakar, Vinod Vijay, Minto Singh, Raj Tambaku, and Parth Iyer for top brands like Nerolac, Vodafone, Sunfeast, Cornetto, Makemytrip,com, Horlicks, etc. It was Kailash Surendranath who believed in me and my talent when I was just 19, and gave me my first big commercial for Amul Lassi & there after worked with me on 25 jingles which made people notice my work in the ad world.
I never had any demos to show ad directors since I was working as a Music Producer for Bollywood songs and both the industries work very differently. So I would download videos of my favourite ad directors from their show reels on YouTube, mute their original music, make my own music for those ads and send it back to the directors. Very few people responded but the ones who did were really struck by the hard work I’d put in. I ventured a bit into the Television Industry as well, having composed the title track for Sony and Ravi Adhikari’s Hongey Judaa Na Hum. Then Siddharth Sengupta, along with the production house Sphere Origins gave me a Show – 26/12 (Chabbis Barah) for Life Ok, for which I was nominated for best background score among stalwarts like Raju Singh, Ashish Rego, and Paresh Shah from whom I’ve learnt a lot about television scoring. I did several film trailers like Tere Bin Laden, Rowdy Rathore, R…..Rajkumar and scored the music for the trailer of the Dhoom 3 game.
So basically it took 8-9 years of training and the grind from Gaming Music, Television, Ads and Films. It was in 2014 that Mr. Salman Khan saw potential in my brother Armaan and me and gave me my break as a music composer and Armaan got the chance to be his (Salman Khan) voice. It was a big deal because Salman Khan launched a Music Composer after many years, the last being Himesh Reshammiya & Sajid Wajid.
You come from a musically illustrious family. Your grandfather, father, uncle and brother are all musicians. How was the atmosphere growing up? It must be very inspiring?
Since childhood I have seen musicians at home, music sittings, cassettes, CDs, keyboards, guitars everywhere. My grandfather Sardar Mallik has been a major influence in my life and I have learnt all the Hindustani Classical I know only through him.I got inclined towards piano and learnt western music through Trinity College of London. I am a computer addict, so that part of my nature pushed me towards learning to make music on computers and that’s how I started producing music. There was no one in my family who could read and write music as people in the west do. It was my father’s dream that I learn music the proper way. The home atmosphere always had its effect but I think everybody finds their own way. It was my own inner calling. I was in love with the idea of creating something.
You have composed a number of advertising jingles. Would you say that is a great start for any aspiring music director?
Advertising helps you learn to make music to visuals and make a music piece that has to fit perfectly within thirty to sixty seconds. My background scoring training helped me to do ads easily. It’s also a good source to earn your bread and butter.
You have collaborated with your brother Armaan on vocals for a number of tracks. From ‘Naina’ in Khoobsurat to ‘Main Hoon Tera Hero’ from your latest project Hero. Do you naturally gravitate to his vocals for your productions?
Armaan is a very gifted singer, beyond his years. At 20 he is doing really well for himself and apart from me, he is working with several composers like Salim-Sulaiman, Vishal-Shekhar, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, to name a few. I choose my singers very carefully, in fact my song chooses my singers. I’ve never been partial to Armaan or any one. Whoever fits the bill will sing.
You’ve collaborated with Salman Khan on vocals for ‘Main Hoon Hero Tera’. That is an unlikely choice. Whose idea was that?
It was during my Jai Ho Days, while working with Salman Sir, that ‘Main Hoon Hero Tera’ was born. One random evening while glancing through the papers I read that Salman Sir had bought the rights of Subhash Ghai’s Hero. I wrote down a few rough lyrics and the hook phrase ‘Main Hoon Hero Tera’ just came to me. At this point of time Hero was not even in its initial stages, but I thought I’ll bounce it off Salman Sir. I recorded a scratch in Armaan’s voice and he loved it, that’s why the original version of the film song is in Armaan’s voice. When Salman Sir heard it, he instantly connected to it and said he loved it because usually with the word ‘Hero’ ever one makes a macho and fun song but this would be the first time that the word hero would be used in a romantic way. At that point of time he promised that once the film starts rolling he will keep it in mind. Even after two years, he was completely in love with it and had been rehearsing it all along. And you can see he has sung it with so much passion and feel, coupling it with his own heroism.
How was it working with Salman in the capacity of a singer?
He is not a trained musician or singer, but knows a lot about music. In fact his music sense is terrific! I would sing three lines and he would repeat them after me plus he was really cooperative and his judgment about the feel a song is perfect. He just called me one night and said let’s record. His decisions are sudden but straight from the heart. He is a star and his voice has a character but I wanted this song to be very different from the other songs that he has sung, that’s why I made him sing higher than his usual scale and the song and his voice both have hit the right notes with the audience. Everybody is loving the romance, the soul and heart that’s been put in by Salman Sir.
You started your career with Salman’s Jai Ho. So would you say composing for a Salman Khan production again for Hero is like home territory?
Not really. My most trying period was after my music in Jai Ho didn’t do well. It was too new age for that time. I was completely devastated and had decided to quit music as a lot of media glare was on me, questioning me as to why I’m not doing Kick or Prem Ratan Dhan Payo. I was reeling under the pressure of living up to a 50 year legacy built by my family.
Some didn’t even know I did Jai Ho, and I didn’t want to go bother Salman Sir for another shot. Instead I wanted to prove to him that the boy he launched was not a one film fluke. I wanted to make him proud, without asking for his favour. I had already given him the song ‘Main Hoon Hero Tera’ during the Jai Ho shoot. Then, Nikhil Sir came on board to helm the project & my songs being in the film were uncertain as he had committed to other composers. But Nikhil Sir trusted me and gave me a shot and I managed to get this one song in Hero. ‘Main Hoon Hero Tera’ was still left aside. The rest of the songs were ready with other composers. But Salman Sir really wanted it in the film but he didn’t want to force his way, so Nikhil Sir asked me to record it in Armaan’s voice. Later when the music was bought by T-series, Mr Bhushan Kumar liked the album but felt the need for another song. It was he who asked Salman Sir if he could give a song from his bank but Salman sir asked him to listen to ‘Main Hoon Hero Tera’ instead and see if it’s the song he was looking for. He reacted in the most amazing way. He (Bhushan Kumar) felt this is a very simple heart touching song and the hook was straight from the heart. Salman Sir felt the same and they jointly met Nikhil Sir and the three finally decided to go with it.
One evening Nikhil Sir edited a few portions of the film & sent me a video and asked me to check my mail. I saw the mail and was surprised to hear Main Hoon Hero Tera in Armaan’s voice and he said this is Hero‘s final trailer. I also met Jaggu Dada a few days back while he was dubbing for Brothers and he told me he loved the title song, which means a lot.
The earlier Hero that this movie is a remake of was known for its beautiful music. Was there any pressure?
I’m grateful to Salman Sir & Nikhil Sir for believing in me & letting me helm Hero’s music. It is an honour to step into the shoes of the legendary Laxmikant-Pyarelal & work on this historic film. Hero was and will always be a legendary film with legendary music. There is always pressure in a remake, but I just wanted to make songs that would touch the hearts of every individual with simple melodies, fresh lyrics and a new sound. ‘Main Hoon Hero Tera’ & ‘O Khuda’ is my tribute to Laxmikant-Pyarelal. They are legends and I hope this music reaches out and does well and touches people if not surpass that score.
It’s interesting that you’ve only composed part of the soundtracks for movies instead of the entire one. Would you say that one music director for the entire album is not necessary to put together a cohesive album?
Firstly today the scene has changed to single songs. If a song is good it can lift the film and add to the collections of the film. It’s a great thing that mixed composers are there but it all depends whether they can deliver a hit album. It’s all dependent on several factors, today actor’s dates are a major issue and because of that the number of days they allot to a film are really limited. A producer has to get his songs ready within a short time frame, so that gives us composers even lesser time to create songs. That’s why there are multiple music composers in one album. Moreover change is good. If it wasn’t like this newer composers like me wouldn’t have come up.
You’ve also composed a song for All Is Well. How was the experience like?
I composed the track ‘Chaar Shanivar’ for All is Well. ‘Chaar Shanivaar’ is a song about having fun at any given point without thinking which day, time & place you are in! It’s the ultimate dream of everyone in this world. Who doesn’t want a longer weekend?
It wasn’t made for any situation or any particular film. I bounced the idea off Bhushan Sir & his reaction was instant and positive. And everything just happened so quickly, Bhushan Sir played the song to Abhishek Bachchan and Umesh Shukla Sir (director) & they loved it! Ahmed Sir has choreographed this song, and I think that our team is power packed and very hardworking. He is my lucky mascot – ‘Sooraj Dooba’, ‘Zindagi Aa Raha Hoon Main’, ‘Tere Bin’ & ‘Saiyaan Superstar’ and now ‘Chaar Shanivaar’ & ‘Chal Wahan Jaate Hain’.
It’s the first time I’ve collaborated with Vishal Dadlani who has simply rocked the song and taken it to another level with his energy and vibe. Armaan has also lent his voice to the track by singing the hook theme and the additional vocals on the track. Badshah has done a really catchy and hooky rap for the song, and has added a very cool vibe to it.
All of your songs from ‘Naina’ to ‘Sooraj Dooba’ to Jai Ho’s title track have not only been appreciated but have become very popular. Will you be composing an entire soundtrack soon?
I’m in talks for a few solo films, and I’m attempting at doing only those films where I can give my all, otherwise singles are okay as well. If I get a director who believes in me and is willing to give time, then I will give my 200%.
You composed two songs for T-series sung by Atif Aslam and Arijit Singh. Where did that project come about from? Do you feel independent music can thrive in comparison with Hindi film music?
Yes, it can if it is well promoted. Promotion is key. Good promotion, good visuals, good lyrics & good music in that order! ‘Zindagi aa raha hoon main’ is at 16 million and ‘Chal wahaan jaate hain’ is at eight Million. So it proves that singles are not over, a good song will reach out and connect to people.
Do you get back to your father or uncle in regards to your compositions? How has the reception from home been like?
Dad is really proud of me. He is my sounding board and always keeps me grounded. He reminds me that I have barely begun and it’s important to keep working and listening to all kinds of music, but find your inner calling. Be at peace with yourself and let God do the rest.
What are the upcoming projects you’re working on?
There’s Nikhil Advani’s Hero, Madhur Bhandarkar’s Calendar Girls, Divya Khosla Kumar’s Sanam Re, Vivek Agnihotri’s Junooniyat, Raja Menon & Akshay Kumar’s Airlift and Shakun Batra’s Kapoor & Sons with Dharma, and a few others that I’m working on.