Armaan Malik: The Bollywood kid | brunch$feature | Hindustan Times
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Armaan Malik: The Bollywood kid

The 21-year-old singer, whose YouTube cover of a Bruno Mars song was instrumental in landing him a major Bollywood project, is today one of the popular names in playback singing

brunch Updated: Sep 09, 2017 20:39 IST
Ananya Ghosh
Armaan wears a jacket, T-shirt and trousers from Zara
Armaan wears a jacket, T-shirt and trousers from Zara(Shivangi Kulkarni)

Today, Armaan Malik needs no introduction. This 21-year-old singer, composer and songwriter, has already made a name for himself in Bollywood. With a voice oozing romance and a cute face to match this charming young man has got the millennial swooning over him on social media. TheMain Hoon Hero Tera singer is currently in news for his seductive yet soulful song, Barfani. But playback is just one of the things this third generation musician has on his ‘to-do’ list. His stage shows are all sold-out and he is equally prolific on YouTube. “Many people decide not to do youtube after a certain point but I make it a point to do youtube videos whenever I get some time. This is because it gives you the freedom to experiment as well as the freedom to be yourself,” says Sardar Malik’s grandson who has passed the phase where people will ‘discover’ him on YouTube. “Now I am putting up selected stuff that I want the world to see. But I will keep doing covers not only because I love it but also because viewers love to see their favourite singers doing covers of one another,” he adds.

But YouTube did play an important part in his life. A child prodigy, Armaan’s first proper YouTube video was a cover of Bruno Mars’s Just the Way You Are. “It was back in 2012. I was about 16 then!” he recalls. The video was tweeted by Priyanka Chopra, who at that time, was signed up with Universal for her album. And it didn’t take long to get the attention of the multinational music corporation. “They came across my cover. So, Devraj Sanyal (Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Universal Music Group & EMI Music, India and South Asia) met me and said that they wanted to cut an album with me. I had already written a few songs, composed a few, so that’s how my debut album happened,” he reveals.

After the album took shape, they wanted a celebrity to launch it. This took Armaan to Salman Khan. “He knew me, but he had no clue that I am into singing. He met me and heard the album on my phone and really loved two songs. He called me home that night for a jam session on those two songs. He loved them so much that he later used them in his film Jai Ho (2014). I was all of 18 then.” Just two years after putting out his first YouTube cover, Armaan Malik had landed his first proper Bollywood project.

Armaan however is categorical that he didn’t start doing cover versions of popular songs to get Bollywood’s attention. “I was doing it because it gave me the freedom to pick my own songs and give my own spin to existing tracks. My YouTube covers were not stepping stones for my Bollywood career.”

As a child artist, he had already sung in films like Chillar Party (2011) and Bhootnath (2008). “Although I am from a Bollywood family, I have had some pretty bad experiences in the industry while growing up. When I was around 10 years old, I had recorded a song for Bhootnath. But the makers got it rerecorded by another kid who was at the finale of a talent hunt show that was endorsing the film. I was shattered. I came back home and started crying. I was completely broken. Later when it came out, it was in my voice. Vishal-Shekhar who was the composers had put their foot down, and my version was retained. But at that early in my life, I learnt that it is a very brutal industry and here success is not just based on your talent. Here on youtube, it is just your talent that speaks for you,” he is at his candid best.

Armaan was also a finalist on Sa Re Ga Ma Pa L’il Champs. “But today you don’t need talent hunt shows. Talents are discovered on YouTube…it is a far easier way to showcase your talent and you are judged by the real audiences. And they are no fools. You can put out a highly-stylised video without putting much thought on the content and after a while the viewers will call your bluff. On the other hand, very basic selfie videos with quality content can make you an overnight sensation. That’s the fun of YouTube. Only the best can survive,” he explains.

Also, he points out that earlier there were two or three playback singers who would rule and those were the voices of the generation. “But does that mean the country had only four good singers? The rest never used to get the platform to showcase their talent. Now, thanks to social media platforms, the world is actually your stage! Not only that, you make tons of money in the process. Today you can buy a house in Mumbai by just being a YouTube singer,” he adds.

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