Striking new chords

Amrita Prasad
Friday, 8 February 2019

Music maker Amaal Mallik, who will be seen as a judge on Zee TV’s Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Li’l Champs, shares how he plans to shape a generation’s music listening and making skills

The peppy track Sooraj Dooba Hai from Roy became so popular that it made him a musical sensation overnight, and since then there has been no looking back for music composer, playback singer and songwriter Amaal Mallik. He has delivered a number of hits like Zindagi Aa Raha Hoon Main, Aashiq Surrender Hua, Gulabi 2.0, Subah Subah, Sau Aasmaan, Neend Churai, Bol Do Na Zara, and  brought out singles such as Ghar Se Nikalte Hi and Ready to Move that won hearts. He will be soon seen judging Zee TV’s Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Li’l Champs alongside Shaan and Richa Sharma. Here's chatting him up:

How does it feel being a judge on Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Li'l Champs?
Well, the experience is overwhelming. I’m alongside some very accomplished artists (Shaan,and Richa Sharma) and it humbles me even more. These kids really pull a rabbit out of their hats almost every time. Being the youngest composer to feature as a judge on this show is an achievement for me, and I recognise the added responsibility I will be having towards the youth. I have always wanted to be instrumental in shaping a generation's music listening and making skills, and this serves as a visual platform.

What is your experience of working with kids?
These kids have a filter-free vocal quality. Their music comes from an honest place, it shows in their renditions. Some of the kids have actually managed to give me goosebumps. The feeling is like serendipity. I’m there to give them a composer’s perspective, be an elder brother and give them an honest feedback — if it’s good it’s good, it’s bad it’s bad. Kids today are smarter, and they know if you’re not being honest with them. Training them now will help unlearn a few things and grasp the important things needed to be a successful playback singer. When we aren’t shooting the episodes, I explain the dynamics and lyrics to let them know how much feel to put in every line. I basically make them understand how it would be in a studio with a composer recording them. 

You entered the industry as a 16-year-old boy and despite having a family background in the music industry, you didn't have it easy in the beginning. Tell us about your initial days in the industry.  
Sometimes your family background and your surname end up becoming your biggest hurdles. The expectations are high and the acknowledgment of good work is automatically subdued. Before becoming a full-fledged composer for films, I fended my way through assisting various composers. I also worked on ad jingles to make the buck. I didn’t have it easy. There was a point where the finances had cut down so drastically that I felt I’d lose the roof above my head. The one thing I’ve learnt from my family is to always claw back and get what you had set out to achieve. The moment I felt I had arrived was when Sooraj Dooba Hai was playing all over on New Year’s Eve, only days after it had released. I understood the power of a good song. That day, there were mixed feelings. The happiness of having struck a connect and the sense of responsibility to now keep that connect going on through all my upcoming songs.

How is independent music doing in India?
The independent music scene had surely seen a dip in both quantity and quality until a while ago. It had become a vicious cycle where reduced investment caused a quality dip and that caused further reduction in the investment. Of late I see labels and companies showing more faith in an independent song.  Punjabi music has played a huge role in restoring the faith of independent music in India.  Now, even non-Punjabi music is shown a lot more faith. Having a parallel industry running to the one I belong to will only increase variety and help everybody's musicality in this country. Artists like Badshah, Honey Singh, Armaan Malik, Guru Randhawa, Darshan Rawal, Yellow Diary The Band, B Praak, Hardy Sandhu, Jaani are helping grow it.  

Bollywood and remixes-- what are your thoughts?
Remakes/remixes are the front runners on an album and it sure is a concerning phenomenon. I am not, in any way, against the idea of remaking a song and releasing it. We release 3 to 4 remakes (sometimes in one album) for every original song released and this ratio is concerning for an industry that has sworn by original music for years now. Film music was meant to be a medium to express what an original script has to say through original music. I believe that not just me, but every composer should take up the responsibility of dishing out original content more often than a remake. A good song will connect, a remake done well will also connect. A remix here and there is okay but a balance is what we need.

ST Reader Service:
Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Li'l Champs will premiere on 
Zee TV from February 9, 9 pm  

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