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"I don't know much of rags, but my father would later explain the rags I had used without knowing" - Anu Malik

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Courtesy: IndiaFM

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Even after 22 years of being in the industry, Anu Malik still feels that every song of his is his first. His passion for music hasn't fizzled out one bit. In fact, he just keeps getting better with every new composition. IndiaFM presents a tÊte-À-tÊte with the composer in which he talks about everything from his forthcoming films to the controversies that figured him in news.

One of your most talked about forthcoming projects is Umrao Jaan. Tell us something about it
I have been eating, sleeping and breathing Umrao Jaan. There is a lot that has gone into it. It depends on the mood of the scene.

Are you still working on it?
I have completed the music. Now the background score starts. I was supposed to go on a holiday but now I can't. I will talk about Umrao Jaan when the music is out. It's too early now.

Let's start from the very beginning about your entire journey in Bollywood.
I feel like I have just started out. I don't feel like I have completed 22 years. I never think of the past. Every time I compose a song, I feel it is my first song. A lot of my directors feel that others do not bring so much excitement in their work. I never feel like I started in '77. People feel that my music is way ahead of its times. In the early 80's I did what people today call hip hop and pop. I had the creativity to do something different in those days. I feel like I am about to launch myself. I still have a lot to give in terms of creativity. There is Pyare Mohan, Jaaneman, Umrao Jaan and Humko Deewana Kar Gaye. I have just finished the first draft of Love Story 2050. After I finished the first draft, Harman just came and hugged me and thanked me. Even Javed saab who is writing the lyrics, turned around and said that we have something here.

You have been composing music since 1977. But you got your first film award much later in 1993 with Baazigar. Do you think the industry took a long time to give you your due recognition as a good music director?
I never thought that Baazigar would ever be offered to me. Not many people knew that I was composing an album. Ratan Jain had come up to me and told me about this film. Shah Rukh Khan was just coming up at that time. He was not the Shah Rukh Khan that he is today. Kajol had just come out of a film, Bekhudi that had not done too well. Abbas Mustan had earlier given Khiladi. When I started working, it was madness personified. I had given songs like Mard and Tere Dar Par Sanam etc. Yet people had no reaction to me. I was wondering where I was heading. I won the Filmfare Award for Baazigar. When I walked up to collect the award, I said, "It took me 20 long years to walk these 20 steps!" I made a great team with Abbas Mustan, whether it was Baazigar or Daraar or Chori Chori Chupke Chupke or even Ajnabee. But Baazigar was the turning point of my career. I remember that I recorded Ye Kaali Kaali Aankhen on 31st December, 92. There was only one synthesizer in the studio. My producers and directors were wondering what I was doing. Nobody reacted till the song was recorded. The moment it was recorded, Ratan Jain asked me for the cassette. He just said that we have a hit song on our hands. Later on, it became a rage. The song and the production were new. The singing was different. It set a trend for that kind of music to follow.

Do you absorb the energies of the actors you work with? For instance, while working with Shah Rukh Khan?
I must say that I formed a very strong bond with Shah Rukh since Baazigar which exists till today. I observe him as a person as well. When I'm making his music, I have to see his mannerisms as well. I told him that I will make music that suits his personality. People also said that Anu's music looks good on Shah Rukh Khan. He catches my tunes very well. Apart from him, I also have a great musical bond with Salman Khan. I have done movies like Judwaa, Biwi No.1, Jaanam Samjha Karo, Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega and Chori Chori Chupke Chupke with him. All were big hits.

You also have a great rapport with Kareena Kapoor.
Bebo has always sworn by my music whether it was Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon, Asoka or Mujhhe Kuch Kehna Hai.

The sound in many of your songs is like the sugarcane-walla!
I always want to give a different sound to all my songs. I changed my voice and sang the song Chunari Chunari from Biwi No.1. After that so many chunari and dupatta songs were made! After the qawwali from Main Hoon Na, just look at the number of qawwalis that are being made.

Your tunes always make people dance. Do you actually dance yourself?
My dad was a very good dancer. As a child, I would always observe him. So many times, I have actually enacted my songs. Chura Ke Dil Mera was one of them. I used to imagine the hero falling down. I hardly ever enjoy the picturization of my music. The closest I have come to enjoying my songs picturizations were in Main Hoon Na. I loved Tumse Milke. It was so funky. Farah understood my music so well. Whenever I work with Shah Rukh, Aamir, Salman or Farah, we create magic. I don't want to let them down because they believe in me. I was saddened when Yaadein and Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon didn't work. I still stand by them. Sometimes you do great work and it is overlooked. LOC Kargil will always be one of my favorite albums. One director I recently met just told me that he carries the LOC album whenever he goes to work. It inspired him.

What is it about you and J.P Dutta that makes you click? Is it patriotism?
It's not only patriotism but also love. When he was making Border, he didn't say it was a patriotic film. He just told me "imagine how the conditions are on the front." When I composed the first song, he had tears in his eyes. He has so much faith and trust in me that it motivates me. I vibe well with people from whom I get good vibes. I have this child like quality of wanting to be loved all the time. I want to be pampered and understood. I tell directors that if they hurt me, I will not be able to work. Singers who have worked with me know that I okay the songs very fast. I expect the same treatment from others. I am a very romantic person which comes out in my songs. In this world full of hatred and animosity I am proud to say that I have a lot of love in me.

How did your dad's presence in your life affect your music?
I was born in a household with music all around me. But more than my dad's music, what affected me was his pain. He was so talented and yet no one reacted to his work. That is what motivated me. I didn't want to be a loser. Before I turned into a music composer, I had an ache in my heart. Apart from my father, I was influenced by the music of Madan Mohan ji and Naushad saab. Pancham da is the man I worship the most. I respect all composers. But when I heard Panchamda's O Haseena Zulfonwali, I said "This is music." That is how I could bring so much versatility in my work. I have also got a lot of criticism for my work. I have accepted the bouquets and the brickbats. People have tried to ruffle me throughout the years. I don't get ruffled because if I let the pain affect me, I will become a negative person. That will affect my music. I don't want anything to affect my music. It is a gift from God to me. If my music can touch people's hearts, I think I am God's chosen one. I thank God for it. So I never get angry when people pass comments.

What was your father's reaction when you won your first award?
He was very happy when I won the award for Baazigar. But he was moved when he heard the music of Border and Refugee. I wish he had lived to hear Umrao Jaan. He was very ill at the time I was working on it. He used to call me his Mozart.

From among your songs, which was his favorite?
He loved Aisa Lagta Hai from Refugee. I don't know much of rags, but he would later explain the rags I had used without knowing. Even Lata ji had called me for the same song. I won the National Award for Refugee. Lata ji even hummed the song for me. It was the ultimate compliment.

Who are your favorite singers?
The two people who were fabulous singers and yet were not spoken about were Manna Da and Talat Mahmood. For me, they were outstanding singers. And of course, Kishore Kumar and Mohammed Rafi! Among the female singers, my favorites are Geeta Dutt who had so much expression, Lataji and Ashaji. There was another singer Kishori Amonkar, who is from the classical world, who is one of my favorites. Also M.Shubhalaxmi.

And from the current singers...
Among females, Alka Yagnik has a very versatile voice. Sunidhi Chauhan is also very talented. Among the males, I like Sonu Nigam's voice a lot. He has given me songs like Sandese Aate Hain and Tumse Milke. I also like Shaan's voice and Kunal's range. I think even KK. excels himself. I feel that with Indian Idol 1 and 2 and other reality shows, we discover a lot of hidden talent. I also like Hari's (Hariharan) voice a lot. It has a magical quality. I love Chitra ji's voice a lot. My other favorites include Anuradha Sriram who sang Aiyee from Lajja. I think Karunya from Indian Idol has been a great find. There is so much talent that it is difficult to pinpoint one person.

Your daughter, Anmol recently sang for Umrao Jaan. Tell us something about her.
I don't want to mention her, because she hates it. She has sung for the young Aishwarya. Javed saab was in tear when he heard the song. I want her to concentrate on her studies now. She has her own ideas. She is more into western music. She keeps writing her own scores. She wants to do it her way. At the moment, she is busy with her exams.

Does she like your music?
Of late, she has started loving my music. At the same time, she is my biggest critic. She is crazy about the music of Jaaneman and Umrao Jaan. I trust her judgment. A lot of times she is quiet after hearing my music. But after hearing Jaaneman, she freaked out. After hearing Umrao Jaan she just caught my hand. I don't want to talk about the music. Khayyam saab was outstanding in the original. To come even 2% close to the music of the original will be nothing short of an achievement.

What's the progress on Happy New Year?
I don't know what's happening there. I don't know when my happy new year starts and ends!

Who is your favorite composer?
It is unfair to single out one person. There is so much good and catchy music coming out. Every composer has some dam good stuff coming out. I also feel that someone who is very good, once in a while also comes out with a very bad song. And that includes me. Everyone is doing superlative work. I am not being diplomatic but saying it from my heart. Everyone is trying to give their best.

How do you manage to incorporate such unusual sounds in your work?
I experiment a lot. I once started drumming a guitar upside down. Someone told me that I would spoil it. But I liked the hollow sound. I combined that with the sound of a tabla being played on a desk. Even the Biwi No.1 title track had a nasal voice. So I have done a lot of funny things!

What is your opinion on the remixes being churned out nowadays?
I am not really against remixes. But if they spoil a nice romantic number, I would really hate that. It has to be done properly and aesthetically.

Songs are easily available on the internet, for free, nowadays. What is your take on the issue?
I think it is downright mean on the part of the people who download music. We make such efforts. We should also get out rights. The royalty should come to the composers and lyricists.

Which is your all time favorite song?
I think I never got over O mere dil ke chain and Madan Mohan's compositions. I love Ye Dil Tum Bin Lagta Nahin. I think the most romantic song ever is Mere Sapnon Ki Rani Kab Aayegi Tu. Last but not the least is a song called Rangeela Re. I hope one day I can make one song like that.

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