He has nothing left to prove, not after watching contemporaries and juniors debut, dazzle and disappear in a 31-year career studded with highs galore including the Screen Decade Honour. But Anu Malik prove a point or two again with Kambakkht Ishq
Your music in Kambakkht Ishq is very today yet classic Anu Malik.
What you are telling me is that the sound production is very “today”, but there is Anu Malik’s melody mixed with it. But when a filmmaker and his team believes in you, it makes all the difference. Sajid Nadiadwala is a producer who has always stood by me, right from Har Dil Jo Pyaar Karega in 2000 to Jaan-E-Mann. We as well as Akshay Kumar and Kareena Kapoor bonded very well and when Sajid introduced me to Sabbir Khan, the director, the rapport was instant. There was a nostalgic element because more than a decade ago, Sabbir used to come as a young boy with his late father, lyricist Noor Dewasi, with whom I unfortunately could not work, to my recordings at Mehboob Studios. The best thing about Sabbir was that he knew exactly what he wanted. His brief to me was “Akshay and Kareena are at loggerheads. The film is set in Los Angeles”. The narration was crisp and funny.
Believe me, I must have made hundreds of tunes for the five that were finally chosen, but Sajid and Sabbir were completely on the mark and chose the best. That’s because they wanted Anu and no one else.
There are two title-songs, but RDB’s song is being promoted, not yours.
You can check this with Sajid, but the Om mangalam riff is mine. As you know, Akshay Kumar likes to bring such artistes in and I have no problem, because contrary to what is being said in the media, he does not force it on you. I agreed because I was told that RDB wanted to work on my phrase and a segment that I have done comes in at the end of that track. And I must admit that RDB has taken the production to another level. I have been around too long to nitpick because of a small chunk of a song. Sajid told me, “Anu, this is your phrase!” but when someone has done a fantastic job, why should I have want credit for such a small thing? I have not come this far on just a few songs, have I?
And just for the record, that was the first song being promoted, but now it is Bebo main Bebo and Lakh lakh nakhre. Also, there is another title-track that was actually the first to be approved, which I have composed and which KK and Sunidhi Chauhan have sung. I came up with this mukhda, Kambakth ishq hai cheez aisi that everyone freaked out on, as did lyricist Anvita Dutt Guptan, who was introduced to me by Sabbir.
How was it working with a female lyricist more than a decade after Maya Govind and Rani Malik?
Like the music, we knew that the writing had to be different. None of us wanted either the standard Chand and taare kind of content or the high poetry that elicited “Wah! Wah!” And Anvita loved the mukhdas I made and wrote very well to them. More importantly she wrote the songs script ko samajhte hue. The teamwork once again shows. I have got great reviews for the music and the ‘Net has ratings like 3.5, 4 or 5 out of 5!
It is axiomatic that good music comes when the process has been enjoyable.
Absolutely right. I will give you another example – the Punjabi song with a difference, Lakh lakh nakhre, could have been typically sung by either one of great singers like Sukhwinder Singh, Daler Mehndi, Mika and so on. I even considered mainstream singers like KK or Shaan. But I told Sabbir, “Let’s go different!” and suddenly I thought of Neeraj Shridhar, who is a fabulous singer but trapped in an Anglicised-meets-Punjabi image till now. Neeraj was on tenterhooks at the recording as his mother was not keeping well, but when he heard me play the melody he just said, “Brother! This is catchy!” He learnt the song very fast and after the recording, which he did despite his personal tension, he just said, “We have a winner!”
And yet the song’s mukhda resembles Soni de nakhre from Partner.
Not at all. The word “nakhre” and the Punjabi flavour gives that impression. Hum them together and you will know the difference.
It was a stroke of genius to cast Alisha Chinoy in Bebo main Bebo.
That’s a song that has caught on like anything, because it has the basic hookline that people want – something so instantly hummable that it is infectious. Kareena is known as Bebo and in this film that’s her name too. Once again, Sabbir chose the best tune from those I offered for this mukhda and Anvita loved it too. Kareena Kapoor, of course, has always inspired me right from Refugee, Mujhe Kucch Kehna Hai and all the many films we have done together.
Nowadays, you tend to prefer Shaan whenever you have melodious duets.
Shaan can be a very romantic singer if used properly. His song, Kyun, was the most challenging song for me, because the brief was weird at face-value. Sabbir said simply, “The girl is sad, but the boy is happy!” I asked how such a duet was possible and Sabbir replied, “I want the real Anu to stand up!” Sajid inspired me even more by saying, “Trends ko chhod! Tu apna kaam kar!” Finally, Anvita told me that this is the best song she has ever written.
This time, refreshingly, there are virtually no empty spaces in your arrangements.
Yes, and that too was deliberate. For me, that is what is real music. The old, so-called outdated music is what is real music to me! At the same time one has to change with the times, or you don’t get a second chance! After starting out in the peak era of R.D.Burman and Laxmikant-Pyarelal I no longer want just work and money. I want work, money and above all respect! For me, it’s a high that websites about copied songs do not have Anu Malik numbers after Border way back in 1997! A fan has pasted my discography on the ‘Net that shows that less than 85 of my 1,200 songs in my entire career have been inspired or borrowed!
See, it’s like this: Like everyone else, I have made average or bad songs, but when a J.P.Dutta or a Sajid Khan have faith in me and want the real Anu Malik, they will choose those of my songs that come from the heart, like every good song should! Jab accha gaana bantaa hai to dil dhadakta hain. That’s why I would love to work again and again with such filmmakers, or with Farah Khan, Shirish Kunder, whose Jaan-E-Mann is one of my best, or with Mansoor Khan. Of course, I would love to sink my teeth into meaty projects and other great directors like Karan Johar and Aditya Chopra.
Your sensibilities have remained untouched even though you are in sync with the times.
Let me make an extreme but true statement: apart from learning from my dad, main Lata Mangeshkar ki awaaz sunkar music director banaa hoon. For me the first song that changed my life was Lataji’s Rasik balma composed by Jaikishan. Time stopped for me when I first heard the song. Even today, subconsciously, I search for a 25-year-old Latabai in every singer! I read the Screen interview of Radha Mangeshkar and I was amazed at the refined sensibility of a 20-something singer – I guess that is the magic of the Mangeshkar blood! When I read her views on Shankar-Jaikishan, I feel that she and I could be in perfect sync. If she is willing to sing Hindi film songs, I want to work with her!
Today’s singers sometimes confuse being in perfect sur with singing from the heart. But to realise that there are two totally different aspects, you have to work with Lataji, Ashaji, Rafisaab and Kishoreda!
And I have the firm belief that ek gaane mein thehraav hona chahiye. You can put in hip-hop. lounge, funk – whatever – but they cannot be the mukhda of a song! My wife and daughters are my sounding-boards and also keep me on my toes and in step with changing times. I am the only composer of my generation who uses Logic Pro – my family just told me, “If they are doubting your talent only because of sound production, you have to master that too!” So now I can make Wave Files of my songs and work with that as well as my harmonium that brings in the melody.
What happened with Tere Sang?
It’s water under the bridge. I wish them well. I believe that they want to keep two of my songs because Anmol, my daughter, has sung them fabulously. Time will tell the difference between a true-blue composer and temporary sensations. But I do feel bad for my daughter Anmol, who was to get a big break.
Finally, why judge a show like Entertainment Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega?
Why not? There are songs here too, and it is not a show against music, or away from music. There is a performer within me who has been liked for his candid views. I would rather do this than unimportant films. I want to work now with filmmakers and projects that will be showcases of my talent. 300 films and 30 years down, I don’t need to do films for the sake of adding one more!