He was one of the most popular Bollywood music composers through the mid-1980s and 1990s. From composing hits for films like Baazigar (1993), Main Khiladi Tu Anari (1994), Virasat (1997) and Border (1997), to singing numbers like Oonchi hai Building (Judwaa; 1997) and Ek Garam Chai Ki Pyali (Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega; 2000) — Anu Malik continues to be a notable musician even today. His latest soundtrack for Dum Laga Ke Haisha (2015) was lauded by music aficionados. In fact, he also won an award for it recently. Here, Malik talks about his comeback, competing with younger musicians, his plans to get into film-making, and more.
You have won an award for a film’s soundtrack after a while. Is this a comeback for you?
I don’t think an artiste goes anywhere. I feel that when someone is ignored, that person strikes even harder. At the awards show this time, there were many hit soundtracks by many popular composers. But I won. It was a huge achievement for me. I didn’t knock on any producers’ doors for work. People thought that I am from the ’90s era, and so, I may not be able to deliver. I am glad Aditya Chopra (producer) trusted me, and gave me a chance. Today, I fight not just for films, but for respectability. I have signed three more films with good banners. I am a learner. I have moved on with time.
Do you plan to venture into film-making?
I toy with the idea these days. Since I have spent so much time with film-makers, and I understand the process, I would love to direct a film some day. I would want to start as an assistant director, as film direction is a tough job. I want to start slow. When I look at makers like Rajkumar Hirani, Aditya, Karan Johar, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Vishal Bhardwaj, I get inspired.
Listen to Ek Garam Chai Ki Pyali here
What is your opinion of the Bollywood music that is being made today?
You can’t ignore today’s music. People are experimenting with R&B, electronica, jazz, trance, house and dubstep. But, even today, if you have a song that is melodious and soothing, it will get recognised. There are so many composers, and I love the competition because it makes me want to create better music. I never want to get a lifetime achievement award, because that means goodbye.
In a report that was published last year, you had said that you are still a struggler. Do you still believe that?
I am a struggler, and that’s what keeps me going. I am hungry for work. I have so many tunes in my mind; I feel that the best ones are yet to be made. The moment you feel you have arrived, it’s time to pack up and go. My ability to fight back is what people respect me for.
Your daughter, Anmoll, is a playback singer. Does she ask you for advice?
Anmoll is my true legacy. She is working very hard. Even now, she asks me a lot of questions and takes my inputs while singing. I am blessed to have a daughter like her. She is more than 10,000 sons put together. I am glad that she is taking things slow, and is not going gaga over her work like many others.
You don’t sing too often now…
I will be singing something soon.