“I want to give youngsters a platform with MWM Entertainment” – Daboo Malik – Planet Bollywood
Daboo Malik is at a stage in his life where he wants to do things that makes him creatively satiated. Daboo himself admits he was under-utilized as a composer and didn’t get the right opportunities despite delivering several popular songs at the beginning of his career. Today, he is happy to see his sons Amaal Mallik and Armaan Malik making a name for themselves in the film and music industry and getting accolades for their chart-topping numbers.
Professionally, Malik himself has a lot of plans up his sleeve. While creating and curating original music for his music label MWM Entertainment takes up a lot of his time, he is also now channelizing his energies towards putting together MWM Academy which will work towards making younger singers and musicians aware of classic songs from Hindi films and present them in the form of symphonies.
In this interview, Malik talks about his journey in the entertainment industry, transitioning from acting to composing music, highs and lows in his career, memories of father Sardar Malik, being proud of sons Amaal and Armaan’s success, contribution of Salman Khan in his career, plans for the future and more.
You paid a tribute to Rajesh Khanna through a musical show recently.
I had never done a show or a concert as a singer till date. When I thought about doing a concert, I instantly decided that I would want to perform to songs from Rajesh Khanna’s films. He was one actor who was the closest to my heart. I was a fan of Rajesh Khanna saab right from my childhood. I was also a big fan of the music of his films.
I think the R.D. Burman – Kishore (Kumar) da – Rajesh Khanna combination was one of the best musical combinations in the history of Hindi cinema. I thought of performing his songs in my own way in a concert. I was not very sure of how the songs would be received as it has been 30-40 years since they came out. I was pleasantly surprised to see a large number of people turning up for the concert and enjoying the songs immensely. It reiterated my belief in the fact that good music never dies.
Do you plan to do more live shows now?
Yes, I will be doing a lot of live shows now. I am also excited about launching the MWM Academy. I firmly believe that all the songs made by the yesteryear composers are no less than classical symphonies. There are many melodies composed by Madan Mohan, Roshan, Khemchand Prakash, Naushad and many other composers that can be turned into symphonies. As a voracious music fan, I know a lot of their songs and have always enjoyed listening to them. I have studied the music made in the past extensively and now, I want to introduce the younger generation to that music. MWM Academy will focus on film music and the greatest music created by our legendary composers.
Amaal and Armaan got acquainted with the music of Rajesh Khanna saab’s films for the first time when they heard me performing to the songs at the concert. They hadn’t heard songs like ‘Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli’ (‘Anand’) and ‘Deewana Leke Aaya Hai’ (‘Mere Jeevan Saathi’) earlier. I felt I should have introduced them to all this wonderful music in their childhood. We should work towards preserving our rich heritage of music. There are many institutions that teach Indian classical music to its students. Schools for western classical music also exist. MWM Academy will do something that has not been done earlier. We will get students of music together, create symphonies out of our classic Hindi film songs and get them to perform to them. MWM Academy will welcome both trained and untrained singers and musicians.
A couple of years ago, you launched your own music label called MWM Entertainment. What made you come up with your own music label?
I can’t go to labels and ask them to buy my music. There could be a lot of songs that I want to release but they wouldn’t want to distribute. I thought it would be best for me to have my own music label. Through MWM Entertainment, I create the kind of music I like and want people to listen to. We have released twenty-four songs so far. I am collaborating with other composers as well. I want to give youngsters a platform with MWM Entertainment
After your birth, your parents named you Israr Malik. Before people started recognizing you as composer Daboo Malik, you dabbled in acting as Krish Malik for a couple of years. Apart from acting in films like ‘Baazigar’ ‘Doosra Ghar’ and ‘Tiranga’, you also featured in Mahabharat.
Acting was like a teenage infatuation for me (laughs). I thought I was quite good at it and decided to give it a shot. I used to do a lot of plays as a teenager. The first play I ever acted in was called ‘Khelaiya’ by Mahendra Joshi ji. It was my first brush with acting. It was a wonderful experience and I still cherish it. After I finished college, I started looking for work as an actor. ‘’Baazigar’, ‘Tiranga’, ‘Phir Lehraya Lal Dupatta’ and ‘Beta Ho Toh Aisa’ were some of the prominent films I acted in. The serials I did, like ‘Mahabharat’, ‘Vansh’ and ‘Yug’, proved to be extremely successful.
Even when I was acting, I would make tunes and write mukhras in my free time. I didn’t really think about composing for films. I simply enjoyed the process. Anu bhai had already become a big name by then. During my acting days, I had met Salim uncle. I made him listen to a few of my songs casually and he told me that I have a natural talent in music. I had already worked as an actor for ten years by then.
You were a self-taught composer.
Yes, I had no formal training in music. Whatever musical education I received was given to me by my father Sardar Malik saab. However, he never wanted any of us to pursue a career in music. He went through a lot of struggle in the industry and didn’t want his children to face the same hardships. He wanted us to get formally educated and take up some stable job. While we did get educated, we eventually got into music.
Your first film was Vishesh Films’ ‘Yeh Zindagi Ka Safar’ which was directed by Tanuja Chandra and featured Jimmy Sheirgill and Ameesha Patel in the lead roles. How did you get this film?
One day, I gate-crashed into Mahesh Bhatt saab’s office. I had met him in the past for different things. When I met him that day, he asked me as to what I want to do in life and whether I want to be known as an actor or a singer. I sang a song in front of him. The song was called ‘Haalat Na Poochho Dil Ki’. It was composed by me and written by the late Anwar Sagar who wrote many hit songs in the ‘90s including ‘Waada Raha Sanam’ (‘Khiladi’). After Bhatt saab heard the song, he showered me with praises and called his brother Mukesh Bhatt ji. He told Mukesh ji, “He is Anu’s younger brother. He will compose the music for my next film.” Bhatt saab heard some of my other compositions and finalized them for the film. Unfortunately, the film didn’t do well. However, I will always be proud of the work I did on it.
What was your elder brother Anu Malik’s reaction when he got to know that you wanted to pursue a career as a music composer?
Anu bhai was surprised. He didn’t know that I was planning to work in films as a composer. Before I started working as an actor, I used to accompany Anu bhai to music sittings and assist him on several projects. The mukhra of ‘Sajan Mera Us Paar Hai’ from ‘Ganga Jamuna Saraswathi’ was written by me. Manmohan Desai ji had really liked it and told me that I should consider a career in music. A few years later, I ventured into acting and music took a backseat.
Your career as a composer started off on a good note. Songs from the films you did initially like ‘Yeh Zindagi Ka Safar’, ‘Maine Dil Tujhko Diya’, ‘Tumko Na Bhul Paayenge’, ‘Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam’ and ‘Pyaasa’ were received favourably by the listeners. ‘Thoda Sa Pyaar Hua Hai’ from ‘Maine Dil Tujhko Diya’ remains your biggest hit as a composer. How was the process of creating this particular track?
I was doing a show for Sony Entertainment Television called ‘Harmony’. It used to feature all the top singers of the country. They would do cover versions of popular Hindi film songs from the past. It was musically produced and directed by me. It was one of my first major projects as a music composer. One day, I was backstage during a shoot. Suddenly, a tune came to my mind and I wrote the lines “thoda sa pyaar hua hai thoda hai baaqi, hum toh dil de hi chuke bas teri haan hain baaqi…” on a piece of paper. I thought it was catchy and a fresh thought at the same time. The rest of the song was written by Faaiz Anwar.
I was meeting different people for different things then. I had once met Himesh Reshammiya for a TV show. He was producing TV shows at that time. I had met him as an actor. Around the same time, I was in talks with Rajshri Productions for a project as an actor. I remember going to the office of Rajshri Productions to meet Rajjat Barjatya ji, sitting in the waiting area and recollecting some of my songs. While sitting in the waiting area, I came up with two tunes which later shaped up in the form of ‘Bindiya Chamke Choodi Chamke’ and ‘Kya Hua Tujhe’. Both these songs were used in ‘Tumko Na Bhool Payenge’. When I met Salim uncle, these were two of the few songs I hummed out for him. While I was trying to find more work as an actor, things were leading me towards music. I had also reached out to Sanjay Leela Bhansali as I heard he was looking for a new music director for his next film which went on to be ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’.
When ‘Maine Dil Tujhko Diya’, every top composer in the industry wanted to do it. Sohail bhai had earlier directed big films like ‘Auzaar’ and ‘Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya’ and this was going to be his debut as a lead actor. They had liked ‘Thoda Sa Pyaar Hua Hai’ and wanted it for the film. I recorded the song and thought that would be my only contribution to the film. However, we kept recording one song after another and I finished the album. I got to compose for two diverse albums like ‘Yeh Zindagi Ka Safar’ and ‘Maine Dil Tujhko Diya’ back to back.
How do you look back at your journey as a music composer?
My journey as a music composer lasted for 4-5 years. A lot of interesting collaborations happened between 2002 and 2005. After that, things started going downhill. My father fell ill in 2005 and we lost him in 2006. His death left me emotionally disturbed for some time. In my career, things were going nowhere. When I tried to get back on my feet and started looking for work again in 2007, I realized the dynamics of the industry had changed completely. The music scene had undergone a dramatic shift.
Composers like Pritam, Vishal and Shekhar and Salim – Sulaiman had changed the soundscape of the industry completely. They brought in a new sound and took charge of the market. There was nothing I could look for. Also, I am a very emotional and shy person. I am not very aggressive and cannot keep calling people for work. I realized my time as a composer was over. I had a lot of hopes from a film called ‘Kisaan’ but it didn’t do well either. After that, I signed a film with Indra Kumar called ‘Love Hua’. It was going to be a romantic musical like the Aamir Khan – Madhuri Dixit starrer ‘Dil’. We had recorded four songs for the film and were going to record a few more songs soon. The songs had shaped up very well and I thought the film would help me get back in the business. Shweta, Indra ji’s daughter, was going to be launched with that film. Shweta ended up signing Himesh Reshammiya’s ‘Karzzzz’ and ‘Love Hua’ was put on the backburner. After the film was shelved, I went into a shell.
Around this time, my children were learning music very seriously. I started selling my cars and properties. I wanted to give Amaal and Armaan the best possible education. I was happy to see them being passionate about music. Even I though didn’t get a lot of success in this field, I didn’t want to discourage them. Every individual has their own destiny. Amaal became a programmer at a very young age. Armaan had started working professionally from the time he was 15 years of age. I enjoyed their success.
You composed the music for a bunch of Salman Khan films.
I will always grateful to Salman bhai, Sohail bhai and Salim uncle for the faith they put in me. They have been a backbone for my family and done a lot for us.
Some of the filmmakers you worked with back then have become big names now. You worked with Hansal Mehta on an unreleased film titled ‘Raakh’ around 2007-08. He has several notable notable films and shows in the last few years including ‘Shahid’, ‘Aligarh’, ‘Scam 1992’, ‘Faraaz’ and ‘Scoop’.
Both Hansal bhai and I were struggling when we met. We got along very well and tried to put 2-3 projects on the floors. He is one filmmaker who got the best out of me as a composer. He would make me create music that was very sensitive and emotional. Even now, when I listen to those songs, I feel happy about the fact that we did some good work together. Hansal bhai is a wonderful human being and very close to my heart. I am very happy to see him doing such wonderful work in the last few years. I am very happy about his success.
Your father Sardar Malik did a lot of good work but didn’t get his due as a composer. What are your memories of him?
I exist because of him. His music was a granth for us. His songs have been a part of my DNA. He was an extremely sensitive and emotional person and that reflected in his music as well. He had a great amount of knowledge on music. He was one of the most fascinating musicians I had come across in my life. Amaal and Armaan were lucky to have got the opportunity to spend a lot of time with him. They got a lot of musical taaleem from him as well.
You have always been very proud of Amaal and Armaan’s success.
I believe in Karmic cycle and cosmic energies. I could not achieve a lot of success but now, I am enjoying the success of my children. Amaal and Armaan have worked extremely hard and deserve to be where they are. I strongly believe my parents’ blessings and love have played an important role in their success. Both of them were always emotionally attached to their parents. They keep the photographs of their grandparents on their piano.
Which is that one quality in Amaal and Armaan that you like the most?
Amaal has studied every aspect of music in an intricate manner. Apart from being a wonderful composer, he is a very good sound engineer as well. He is somebody who chases excellence. He is never ready to make any compromises with his music.
Armaan’s biggest strength is his versatility. From English songs to Telugu songs, he sings everything effortlessly. Recently, he had sung a ghazal for Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s album ‘Sukoon’. He is very adaptive and can sing anything.
Which is your favourite song by them?
My favourite composition by Amaal is ‘Main Rahoon Ya Na Rahoon’. The one song sung by Armaan that is closest to my heart is ‘Bol Do Na Zara’ (‘Azhar’).
Out of all the songs you have composed, which one is your favourite?
‘Zamaane Mein Sabhi Ko Milte Hain Gham’ from ‘Yeh Zindagi Ka Safar’. It was sung by Hariharan ji. In a lot of ways, the song defines me.
You have had a keen interest in developing story ideas and concepts. You are directing music videos. What do you plan to do next?
Apart from making music, I plan to write a few more scripts in the future. I will continue to direct music videos but I don’t have any ambition to make a film. Right now, my focus is on setting up the MWM Academy. Creatively, I am in a very positive space.
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