Singer-composer duo Armaan and Amaal Mallik shot to fame with Salman Khan’s Hero, have a string of hits such as Main Hoon Hero Tera, Wajah Tum Ho and Tumhe Apna Banane Ki to their name. They made their debut with Salman Khan’s Jai Ho too. At present, the young duo is judging 92.7 BIG FM’s singing talent hunt Benadryl BIG Golden Voice Season 4.
In an exclusive conversation with the IndianExpress.com, the singer-composer duo spoke about their experience of working with Salman and how it has helped them get more projects and why reworking old songs is not such a bad idea. Mallik Brothers are sons of singer and music director Daboo Malik and nephews of music director Anu Malik.
How does it feel to judge and mentor new talent in Benadryl BIG Golden Voice Season 4 since you yourself are so young?
Armaan: It’s an interesting concept. I have myself been on the other side of the table being a participant of a singing talent hunt (Saregamapa). Hence, it is awesome to judge a pool of talent that our nation has. It is very important to highlight the talent of India and bring it to the fore.
Amaal: It’s an honour to do this so early on in my career, and I’m looking forward to finding that one wonderful voice that will sing for me one day !
What is it that you are looking for in the contestants, what kind of voice?
Armaan: Each contestants voice should have the essence of the region they hail from. They should have that earthiness, that mitti ki khushboo and yet have a contemporary style that blends into today’s kind of singing and music.
Amaal: A voice that has a chaṛachter, a soul and makes my hair stand on end. To me confidence, x factor and all that is not important, it can be taught and inculcated if the right person is guiding you. A voice should just wake me up, make me leave my house and go search for it!
What do you have to say to aspiring singers who wish to do playback singing and enter Bollywood?
Armaan: All I can say is that one has to be well prepared to accept failures and rejections in this industry and also have the ability to reinvent themselves at every stage. It’s important to grow and change with the moving times.
Amaal: Sur aur taal toh zaruri hain but dil se Gaana aur bhi zaruri hain, try to understand what the melody and most importantly what the lyrics are trying to say. The music director should be happy working with you.
After Jai Ho and Hero, there has been no looking back for you, do you credit Salman Khan for your growing popularity?
Armaan: Well, of course! He was the one to spot the talent in me and brought it to the ears of the audiences. I also credit Bhushan Kumar (T-Series) who contributed immensely to my growth post-Main Hoon Hero Tera. He is a musical visionary and a fabulous person to work with.
You made your debut as a music composer with Jai Ho. Do you feel working with Salman Khan has helped you bag more projects?
Amaal: Working with him in my first film was a huge honour, but my music from Jai Ho was not promoted anywhere on any platform and it was way too ahead of its time, I guess. Salman sir wanted my song to be the first release from Jai Ho but it didn’t happen as the music label felt that it was too new age. After Jai Ho everyone thought I would sign another Salman Khan film, but I didn’t get Kick, Bajrangi Bhaijaan or Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo as the music was already done and I did not want to be a burden on him and bother him for work. I wanted him to be proud that he had launched me, and I wanted him to know that he had launched someone who was worthy of the tag of a music director. I went out of my way and struggled with several producers and finally Bhushan Kumaar understood Sooraj Dooba Hain and he gave me a relaunch in the form of Roy. From there on, the journey has been wonderful, even Salman sir called and congratulated me on Sooraj Dooba Hain, saying he loved it. Later came my time of redemption when Salman Sir called me for Hero and our collaboration on Main Hoon Tera became a rage and the love anthem of 2015, with a staggering 65 million view count, highest viewed Salman Khan song, even more than O O Jaane Jaana.
Tell us about your experience with him.
Armaan: Salman Bhai is one of the warmest people in the industry. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have been here singing songs for films. He gave me my first adult playback singing debut in the form of Jai Ho.
Amaal: He is so many things to so many people, to me alone he is a friend, a father figure, an elder brother and the best mentor ! He is proud of me and my achievements, and that’s all that matters ! The man stood up for me when no one did, I owe it to him that I had the guts to go out there and become a music director, After Hero, the world’s faith was restored that I can make romantic music and I wasn’t just a one song wonder. I can’t thank him enough for making me take the leap of faith at 23, his blessings and love have helped me go from strength to strength. I was struggling to put food on the table for my family and myself when he came into my life as an angel and signed me for such an ambitious venture. It was surreal, overnight I was Bollywood’s newest find and Salman Khan’s protege. He feels I do too much work and I’m always lost and never manage to make time to keep fit, but he knows I’m too dedicated to my music, and he understands. For others he is Salman Khan the superstar, for me he is the man who gave me my first opportunity to prove myself and stand in front of you guys. I just want to be friends with him, even if we get to work or never work together… He is like family and I’m glad he takes me and Armaan as his family too !
We always see old songs being reworked every now and then. Do you think Bollywood music is running out of original ideas?
Armaan: I think it’s a trend which is working and of it is working then why think negative about it? I like how some recreated tracks have turned out. I have done some recreated versions myself like Tumhe Apna Banane Ka (Hate Story 3) and the recent Pyaar Manga Hai, both of them have garnered a lot of love and appreciation. So I don’t see a problem in this trend.
Amaal: It’s not a bad idea, as the new generation hasn’t heard these songs. The sound of that era doesn’t work for today’s youngsters,that’s why it’s revamped and packaged in a new form. It’s become a compulsion to do it in every commercial album, and till you aren’t AṚ Rehman, Pritam, VS, or SEL you can’t argue much…..You either agree or lose the film.
Has it been easy for you to enter into Bollywood being nephews of popular music director Anu Malik?
Armaan: Everyone asks us this question, but our answer remains the same. Both of us have earned our success only on our own merit and not because of our family name. For the outside world, it may seem easy to enter into the industry if you belong to a film family but trust me it’s even harder as you have to not only prove your talent but also carve your own niche and identity
Amaal: Nope. In mine and Armaan’s case, we were kids of Daboo Malik, who unfortunately hadn’t ever seen the kind of success Anu uncle saw, so in a way we too are underdogs.We weren’t the successful Malik’s kids. You can get a foot in the door because of a surname but if you don’t have what it takes, and if you can’t deliver you are not going to reach anywhere! With the Malik surname came preconceived notions. Many directors and producers asked me if I could do ads and do new-Age music as they thought I can make only Oonchi Hain Building and Thoda Sa Pyaar Hua Hain, type of music.
Arijit Singh is on the wish list of every music director. How do you see the competition offered by him?
Armaan: I don’t see Arijit Singh as a competition at all. That’s because we both have a very different style of singing. In fact, I really appreciate what he’s been able to bring to the playback singing industry. He brought a newness to the approach of singing songs – he uses a few vocal nuances that strike a chord with the youth and today’s listeners. I’ve never believed in competition. Everyone’s here to do their own thing and become successful in that respect.
We have always heard you sing romantic and love songs, are you more comfortable in this genre?
Armaan: I can sing in various genres, but my heart truly lies in singing romantic songs. This has been my forte ever since I was 8 or 9. I am a romantic at heart that’s why I attract such songs. However, I am singing a few dance pop numbers which will come out soon and give everyone a taste of what I can offer musically and vocally.