Singer Amaal Mallik opens up about nepotism, his struggles, and rediscovering himself

"Seeing 40 people playing in masks, giving it their all and witnessing it virtually was a different kind of high.” That’s what Amaal Mallik said on recording the song Parinda, from Saina, with a live orchestra during the pandemic. Composing Saina’s album, which was his life’s “most special album”, he said that it has an energy and grunge that portrays with honesty the passion and grandeur of the film. With this, Mallik debuts as a background scorer and his excitement, truly, knows no bounds.

However, this was not the scenario four years ago. Back in November 2017, when Mallik signed Saina, he was just 26, and had decided to go on a self-sabbatical to discover himself after being completely drained out. “I was too exhausted and burnt out. I wasn’t enjoying making music and once you start feeling that making music is a laborious task, it's time you need to take a break. In serendipity and peace, I found the right music for this film.”

Amaal, who has remixed a few songs in his short musical career, reveals that in the meantime, he was offered to do remixes of several Hindi numbers. “I was okay to do a few remixes. However, I felt that I did not fit in the zone of just remixing songs and that I’m a better flag-bearer of originals.” Speaking about letting go of several meaty offers for the sports biopic based on Saina Nehwal, he said “I didn’t lose anything by investing in this film because I only said no to projects that I didn’t believe in. I was disheartened by remixes, and didn’t want to do 20,000 remixes a year. I’m fine doing two or three. Also, I know that if I do films like Saina, I will earn a little less, but at least I will leave a legacy behind and I am contended with that.”

Mallik could relate to Saina's story because he was an underdog himself in the industry. “Due to the perception of the Mallik tag, people tend to believe that it’s been easier for me in this industry and that life was just a bed of roses. However, I never benefited out of it. Yes, I agree that nepotism exists in the industry but Armaan (his brother) and I have carved our spaces.” A lot of people might recommend you but it’s the hard work that matters in the end, he adds. Walking us through the days when his family struggled, Mallik says, “Despite coming from a music family that has a legacy of 60 years, we are not the sons of the most successful composers. We are sons of Daboo Malik, who had a decent and small share of success. Leave alone being invited for award shows, he was not even nominated. As kids, we felt that our father deserved awards. Nobody noticed that, at the age 11, Armaan started his career with a reality show and that I’ve been working and assisting from the age of 15. So, in our family of illustrious musicians, we were the underdogs. We were always compared to our father, uncle and grandfather. That is difficult to cope as a newcomer.”

Commenting on a what singer Shreya Ghoshal said in a recent interview about filmmakers getting male composers on board despite the theme of the movie/song being female oriented, further engendering lesser opportunities for females, Amaal said that he audaciously accepted the accusation. “It was the director’s decision to use my voice for the anthem (Parinda) as my voice is grungier. Maybe, I too would have used a female’s voice,” Mallik suggests, “She (Shreya) was completely right in saying that songs sung by female singers are reducing in numbers. I feel, that at least one or two songs should be sung by female singers in a female biopic. Sometimes things don’t work out because there are directors and producers who have other factors involved. However, I hope that for another female led film, it isn’t me, but a female singer who composes its music. I am sure that they’ll put forth a different emotion all together.”

On his upcoming projects, he will reunite with brother Armaan for a beautiful love ballad, Main Hoon Na, which as per the elder Mallik, “will invoke a different feeling of love in people”. With so many beautiful unrequited love songs coming from Amaal’s den, it doesn’t stop one from wondering if there is someone in his life, who inspires him. “There is no one, in particular, who inspired me for the song. Hopefully, after listening to this song, I will find someone special. I’m not dying for love but longing, maybe.” he laughs.

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