The versatile composer, music director and reality show judge and mentor to many aspiring musicians, Anu Malik belongs to a musical legacy which has enriched the Indian film industry with their music for three generations and the tradition still goes on. The self-taught music composer talks about his musical journey, future of the music industry and lots more in an interesting conversation with loudest.in
Talking About his Journey Anu Malik began with an exciting trivia saying, “I am more of natural talent, as I come from a completely different kind of an atmosphere. Born to a musical family my father being the legendary composer Sardar Malik Saheb, I would call him my first and last teacher, whom I listened and learned a lot from, so I did not have any formal training in music then, but the environment was such that enhanced my musicality. My father had sent me to Guruji Ram Prasadji, who was the father of Prarelalji one of the (Laxmikant Pyarelal duo), who taught me to play the piano and practice particular notes again and again…eventually, I was kind of bored with these exercises and began composing my own songs. So there he kind of predicted, that I will never learn music, but there would be one day when I will become a big composer, and with his blessings and with the grace of Ma Saraswati I’m still composing.”
Talking about his initial challenges, Malik says, “We had no access like Wikipedia or any film directory to find which music director stays where. I used to pick my harmonium and travel in buses and used to find out where the recordings of Pancham Da, Laxmi Kant Prayelalji were happening and would try to peep into (Chup Chup Ke) how he worked, so it was this kind of dedication to learning how these maestros worked and that was the learning ground for me. Being the son of Sardar Malik Saheb, it was not as easy to find work, people would offer me tea but not work, so I had my own struggles in the dew course, it has not been an easy journey though. I started composing from the age of 14, and now it’s more than 40 years, by the musical journey continues, and since then whatever tunes I have composed, it’s with the grace of God that people wonder how do I do that.”
Being the son of Sardar Malik Saheb, it was not as easy to find work, people would offer me tea but not work, so I had my own struggles in the dew course, it has not been an easy journey though.
Malik about his musical inspirations saying, “I considered Shankar Jaikishan duo as my Idols, and I was very fond of the song ‘Awara hoon‘. But someone who just changed my thought process and influenced me at the early age of 10 was R.D Burman, and his ‘Dum Maro Dum‘ which had a guitar piece actually took my attention towards him left me wondering, who has made it and that’s when I started following him. I sometimes look at the irony of life, that when Kishore Da due to his ill health was unable to complete the film Ghatak, It came to me and I completed it. I felt immensely blessed to have his blessings when he heard and appreciated my song Koi Jaye To Le Aaye Meri Lakh Duayen Paye.”
Talking about his early music creations, Malik says, “In 1977 my father was doing the film ‘Huntewali’ in which I composed a song in it. I feel blessed that Rafi Saheb has sung 3 of my first songs like ‘Aa Zara Mere Humnashi‘, ‘Mohabbat Rang Layegi Janab Ahista‘ and ‘Lagi Lag Jaye Logo‘ and also Kishore Da sang some 15-20 songs. For me Kishore Da was the ultimate singer and R.D.Burman was the ultimate composer since he was so versatile and played across the canvas from doing films like ‘Teesri Manzil’ to ‘Amar Prem’, and I always wanted to be versatile like him and so I did films like ‘Judwaa’, ‘Bazigar’, ‘Border’ to ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha‘ too. Every composer has a style, someone is good in romance, others are good in creating sad songs or item numbers per se, but I believe that a real composer needs to be versatile and I tried to be the one.”
On the digital media scenario and how today’s generation needs to enrich one’s art Malik says, “I feel that today’s youngsters are born in the era of technology and social media platforms like Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, starring in their faces to make the most use of them. But however you are good on these social media platforms, you need to have an out of the box quality about your art which applies to all be it the singers, composers or lyric writers. I completely buy the fact that the more the pain, the more you gain! It’s important to learn and master your art and also have a knowledge of Hindustani culture, traditional music and arts and especially the ‘Indian Sanskars,’ i.e. the values we have learned from our parents and our family traditions, will definitely help you in any field of work and enrich your art.“
Every composer has a style, someone is good in romance, others are good in creating sad songs or item numbers per se, but I believe that a real composer needs to be versatile and I tried to be the one.
Malik emphasized on cultural diversity and the talent that India bestows, “India has so much talent even at the nook and corners of the country, there is this rich cultural and musical diversity that makes India and its people both very magical. You never know from which smallest region you can find the biggest talent and digital platforms or reality shows are allowing these capable youngsters to showcase the talent. Those who have talent definitely come into the limelight, as there is a famous song ‘Ye Public Hai, Ye Sab Janti Hai‘, it’s just that the people do have a good eye to detect and bring in light the most deserving talent.“
Talking about the scope of independent artists, “I think there is a dramatic shift now, today we have Youtube stars who are uploading their music, skits, songs, and comic videos. If we see someone like Bhuwan Bham – who is doing so good for himself and his community of followers or many other influencers who have a variety of audiences, like TikTok – which is picking up. Today, we have a young crowd which is ready to listen to a new kind of music and variety of content. People don’t only wait for Film Music to come and entertain them nor do the performers need a banner to promote them, so its a great opportunity for independent artists, since today an idea is everything.”
Malik talks about Bollywoodization of the Indian Music Industry, “If we talk of the Indian Music Industry, we need to remember one thing that our country is ruled by the Film Stars. If we create any music, people love it if it’s enacted by a famous actor or an actress. In Judwaa, people loved to see Salman Khan on a great song, or Shahrukh, Ranveer and Shahid Kapoor to associate them with a song, which adds to the beauty of the song as today, both the visual as well as the audio mediums are important and thus the music today is backed by these stars! I feel I am fortunate that stars like Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh, Amir, Salman all have enacted on my songs to make them great hits. So the film industry will always be the film industry, and no one can get away with its magic, which certainly influences our music industry too, which is in our DNA!“
People don’t only wait for Film Music to come and entertain them nor do the performers need a banner to promote them, so its a great opportunity for independent artists, since today an idea is everything.
Talking about possibilities of exploring with different genres, “Well, I like to explore my creativity across genres like jazz, Hip-hop, blues, folk, classical, etc., if given a chance. So when I did, ‘Moh Moh Ke Dhaage‘, I was working with Aditya Chopra (Producer), Maneesh Sharma (Producer) and Sharat Kataria (Director) for the first time. They believed in this kind of music and encouraged me to explore, and when I made them listen to the track, they said they love this zone, although many directors have not yet explored this zone with me, whenever I did it people loved it. When I received the National Award for the song and also for the songs in the classical school for the melodies like ‘Aisa Lagta Hai‘ and ‘Panchi Nadiya Aur Pawan‘ for JP Datta films like Border, Refugee, Kargil and Umrao Jaan. I love this zone, and need the producers who would like to allow me to work more in it.“
Talking about exploring the folk music and bringing out talent, “I recently visited Arunachal Pradesh, and found that we have immense talent in the Northeast region. The best part is that people there don’t even know Hindi as there are many regional languages, they love Hindi film music so much that they learn the language to sing Hindi film songs. They have beautiful voices but are waiting for an opportunity to perform, and I think they should be included in the mainstream music industry. India has huge diversity, and if you go to the interiors of Gujarat or even South India you find amazing talent and someone has to take a step ahead to bring this talent to the mainstream music scene!”
So the film industry will always be the film industry, and no one can get away with its magic, which certainly influences our music industry too, which is in our DNA!
Talking about the future of the music Industry Malik says, “We are at the crossroads, today there is a lot of talent exploring various mediums, so also we have to take care of legalities and artist rights, copyrights, publishing rights and things like that which the industry professionals have to deal with. We have very few composers who are creating original music, and we are living on the hard work of many composers who have created great music in the past as people are doing remixes, changing the sound production. It is good for the younger generation to listen to old music, but it should not end up being an easy way out. Creating original music requires a lot of hard work and people are not ready to invest that kind of time and efforts.”
Talking about how the next generation of Malik’s is making it big, “Well the next generation of Maliks are carrying forward the family tradition and are doing very well be it Armaan and Amaal. They have worked really hard to make the family proud, and now my daughters, Ada who’s a fashion designer in her own right and Anmol who’s a singer, composer, songwriter, are both making their presence felt. I am glad that Anmol is carving her own path brilliantly without my help, and I’m happy that people have started talking about her.”