Amaal Mallik: ‘Arijit, Kumaar and me… it’s a very blessed combination’
By Bryan Durham - September 2, 2020
We’re in the middle of a worldwide pandemic and yet, life goes on. With a “captive audience”, it’s the best time to put out music and that’s something music labels have realised early on and that’s something that holds true of independent artists as well.
There are some who do both equally well (Amaal Mallik, being one) and are consistent in the quality of work they put out (lockdown or otherwise). 2019 was a good year for the composer, films-wise (Badla, De De Pyaar De, Kabir Singh). Given the circumstances this year, he has maintained a steady run with non-film hits like Zara Thehro and Dil Ko Maine Di Kasam so far, which is admirable.
The latter, of his own admission, was created several years ago, but was released with a proper music video, the original music crew and an en-vogue screen pair.
We reached out to Amaal with a few questions on DKMDK. Here are his replies…
Having access to some of the best and brightest lyricists and singers of our time, how did you go about finalising who you wanted for this song?
Dil Ko Maine Di Kasam was something I composed at the age of 23-24. At the time, when Kumaar paaji heard the song, he really loved it. We didn’t decide on any singer immediately. But within 3-4 months of completing it, I got an intuition of sending it to Arijit and he really liked it and came on board. I think every song finds its own singer…my journey with a song is always very clear in terms of singers. I’m always unsure about productions, I keep doing live, adding subtracting elements. But the singer choice was destined to happen, you know…me, Kumaar and Arijit is a very blessed combination. Whenever it has happened, it has been beautiful, so I had no doubts. The minute I heard him sing Dil Ko Maine Di Kasam, I knew it’s his song.
You’ve worked with Kumaar paaji and Arijit before this. But going by your Insta stories, this track was first created eight years ago. Making this kinda your first time working with them in a very ‘Back To The Future’ sort of way, right?
I made the composition when I was doing Main Hoon Hero Tera with Kumaar paaji and O Khuda as well… we were finishing the songs and the lyrics and I randomly hummed this melody to him. He had this perfect vision I would say (after seven-eight years now). At that time he told me “Ye bohot hi ghazal combination hai ismein and it’s got a very ghazal-ish approach (in the writing and the melody). So he felt it was too early for this kind of music to make its presence felt again. Because this is a kind of melody that would work in the 70s or the 80s or the 90s. So now, when it has come and still reached out to so many people and is winning so many hearts, I think that decision was great even by Bhushan sir, not to let it just come randomly at any time and in any film and I think it has got its due. So it’s amazing.
Do you think ‘streaming parties’ is the way forward?
A lot of fans outside India have these concepts of doing several streaming parties/viewing parties and everything, so it’s something that binds them — my fans, a lot of Armaan’s fans, a lot of people their fandoms are coming together — taking out time, listening to the song, streaming it on several platforms at different times and enjoying the song. I think they’re having fun. No one’s really telling them to do these ‘parties’, but if they are bringing certain fans together and making them feel happy about listening to songs together and sharing notes… I’ve seen them share screenshots about their WhatsApp groups and what they liked about the song, So, I slyly see that from my fans…it’s beautiful. I think It’s a sweet way forward. It’s good to be doing that and I’m grateful to my fans for doing these things.
How important are promotions for a song’s success, these days?
There are several ways to make your song reach out I spite of those ways, there is one simple rule — if it’s not that amazing or heartfelt, it may have lot of views but might not translate into people’s love or people covering those songs or really enjoying those songs on streaming or listening to them,. The most important thing is that obviously now we have to do these LIVES, because of this pandemic, we’re all at home, there’s no way to go and perform it anywhere and show-business was one route from where songs get more popular, but now, we don’t have those tools, so people also want those human interactions. Someone who’s made the song, they’d like to know the story behind it… specially my fans. And I keep coming live and doing interviews only so that my mindset and how I think, how I make music, reaches out to them. So, I think it’s very important to promote a song, but over-promoting is also something I stay away from. I give a song a good 10-12 days of my life. I just keep sharing posts or covers or reposts of my stories. But I feel it, once I know people are reacting… and I get calls from a lot of normal people and from different walks of life, then I know that the song has reached out. The rest is on the song and how good… only that song will define how long it’s going to stay.
A good melody is a good melody is a good melody (regardless of the era it releases in). Agree? For example, Madan Mohan is posthumously credited as the composer of Veer Zaara, but the music is just as loved by people of our generation.
This is something I truly believe in… that a good melody is a good melody is a good melody, but a good melody without great lyrics is just a good melody. Together, a combination of good melody and great lyrics and heartfelt singing, is what makes music cross boundaries, cross time and reach out to generations, which have never heard the works of the original composer. So, when Veer Zaara released, I immediately didn’t know that it was Madan Mohan Saab’s music because… obviously, I had heard his music… but there was no YouTube, there was no way to check immediately. So when I heard that song in the trailer of the film, I was like, “Wow! This is like some era of music coming back. The arrangements were very up-to-date for that time and that’s why maybe, a good melody remained. Something he made 30 years before, it released with Shah Rukh Khan and Preity Zinta and with such nice arrangements… one member of Madan Mohan Sir’s family has arranged and produced that album and he has kept the essence of that composer alive. So I think melody is very important.
Anything you’d like to say to the Amaalians, Arijitians and AsiManshi fans?
My message to all the Amaalians, Arijitians and the AsiManshi fans is very simple: I would like to say a heartfelt thank you ke you have given so much love to the song. Main thoda nervous tha ki 7-8 saal pehle banaya, abhi aayega, kaise acept hoga? Hoga, nahi hoga. It’s doing some really, really wonderful numbers, it’s winning hearts, it’s playing on the radio, log covers banaa rahe… it’s beautiful. Just keep loving my music and hopefully, there’ll be much more from our end, coming with more non-film and independent music. So, thank you to all my fans. Big thank-you to them for supporting me, standing by me, in every aspect of my life. And we’re like ONE BIG STRONG FAMILY. Don’t mess with us!