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A Rich Lineage

For 23 year old music composer Amaal Mallik, who made his debut with Tumko toh aana hi tha in Jai Ho, the young lad is poised to prove his mettle, experimenting with diverse tunes in his upcoming films

Amaal Mallik Amaal Mallik

You hail from a music family, so was becoming a composer a natural choice?

I belong to a family of musicians, my grandfather Sardar Mallik, my dad Daboo and of course uncle Anu Mallik. I was born into a household where you could hear strains of music throughout the day. I can say with pride that I was a very fortunate grandchild who got to spend the first 15 years of his life under the influence of his grandfather’s music which was classical yet very experimental.
I was very young when I became interested in keyboards and casio. Seeing my interest, my mother enrolled me in music classes, and that’s when I realised my love for making music. I have trained formally in western classical and completed a course in piano from the Trinity College Of London.
At 16, I composed my first tune and wrote its lyrics too. When I played it to my dad, he advised me that though I had the talent, I should work hard and explore all kinds of music and not limit myself.
Initially, I began producing music for my father and then slowly started assisting other composers. Seven years down the line, I have started my journey as a Bollywood music composer, and I hope to get better with every song.

Who has influenced your style of composition?

I am inspired by both my grandfather and father as they belong to different schools of music. Hence, I am able to deliver all kinds of songs and be versatile. I also like the music of R.D. Burmanji, Pritam sir and A.R. Rahman sir.

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You made your debut with a big film, Jai Ho. How did it happen?

When Salman and Sohail bhai who are family friends came to know that my brother Armaan and I were working on Armaan’s debut album with Universal Music India, Salman bhai asked us to meet him with our compositions. At that time, I was doing a lot of advertising work and also producing background scores with Sandeep Chowta and Salim-Sulaiman sir. When Salman bhai heard the album, the song Love You Till The End, which was an EDM track, caught his attention. He asked me to write the Hindi lyrics and make an acoustic version of the song. That’s how Tumko toh aana hi tha was born and I became a part of Jai Ho.
Closer to the release, Salman sir asked me to compose the title song as he wanted to perform at promotional events and award functions that he was invited to. That’s how I created the Big Stadium EDM Jai Ho title track.

Did your work in Jai Ho help to get you your next project Khoobsurat?

 Jai Ho marked my entry into the industry, but it didn’t get the stamp of ‘arrived’, as my songs were very different from the usual Salman movies. So they weren’t promoted as aggressively as the other songs of the film.Yet Tumko toh... and the title track made a small place in the hearts of several Salman fans, so yes, it was a start. However, after getting a break in such a big movie like Jai Ho, I was without work for sometime. Jai Ho was bashed for reasons unknown. My music went unnoticed to a certain extent, and I felt very disheartened.
However, I used that time to create a collection of songs. I met Mr Bhushan Kumarji who has been instrumental in giving me 90 per cent of the work that you shall hear from me in the next year. He understood my passion and gave me a big film like Roy. Initially, I was shocked, but he had more surprises for me, when he offered me work for his home production Leela, Calendar Girls, Mastizaade and a few others. He gave me and my music a space to grow and gave me projects that I don’t think I would’ve ever been a part of, if it hadn’t been for him.
As for Khoobsurat, it was never my film. Rhea Kapoor had already shot a song, but due to some legal hassles regarding folk music and its usage they couldn’t use it. They had a visual ready, and had just one day in which to shoot the song. She asked Bhushanji to help out and since he has a bank of songs by many music directors, he put her on to all the people who were composing for him. I sent her a few tunes, and she selected the one that you hear in Naina. The song was recorded in 19 hours, and while I composed the tune, Kumaar sir wrote the lyrics simultaneously. That same evening, I went to Sona Mohapotra’s studio and dubbed her voice. I recorded my brother, Armaan’s voice at another studio. I produced the track, laid down the guitars, live percussions and by night we had a final mix ready and the song Naina was born. The next day, we sang this song at the music launch of the film.
Although, I consider Jai Ho as a stepping stone to my career, Khoobsurat happened because of Bhushanji who introduced me to Rhea Kapoor. She had full confidence in my capabilities and was sure that the track would be liked by all. And it did.

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The song has received rave reviews so do you feel that soft romantic numbers are what you are best at?

Yes, I love composing romantic songs. Naina has been a great surprise for me. It has had a million views on YouTube and been in the top 10 on several radio channels. We have got a terrific response from people all over the world. But, I would love to experiment with all kinds of stuff, I don’t want to limit myself. I listen to Jazz, Rock, EDM, folk music, Punjabi, Sufi, Lounge, Pop etc.

As a young composer, will your music reflect the new age music that youngsters like?

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I did a lot of new age stuff in Jai Ho. I produced pure EDM and created tracks that had the sound of new age electronic dance music with a Swedish touch. I feel new age music is good if it’s woven around a good melody.
I try to keep my sound as fresh and new as I can, but I give a lot of importance to tune and lyrics and try to cater to all age groups.

Did you assist someone before venturing on your own?

I was an assistant to Amar Mohile, Sandeep Chowta and Salim- Sulaiman for over six to seven years. I had started assisting immediately after completing my 10th grade till the time I was offered Jai Ho.

What about your future projects and what will we get to hear?

The next year, all the songs that I have composed for the films are very different. I am eagerly looking forward as you shall hear my compositions in Roy, Calendar Girls, Leela, Hero among others. My songs will have simple yet strong lyrics, and will be high on melody. I hope in trying to be versatile, I can pull it off with all the different genres that I’m tying to experiment with.
With the kind of experimental films being made, I think there is scope for such music. Ultimately, the audience is interested in what you are bringing to the table; it can be new sound, melody or a new idea.

Any plans to release an independent album?

Right now, I’m concentrating on films. The album will happen at the right time.

What are your future plans?

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Work hard, sign new films, eat and sleep. And then work hard, sign more films…. I hope it all works out.

First published on: 17-10-2014 at 01:00:19 am
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