A top Bollywood celebrity had found himself in hot water when he had controversially stated that the popularity of a film’s music depends on the film itself. Industry stalwarts had shot back with examples of movies that tanked but had brilliant discographies. 23-year-old Armaan Malik’s song ‘Sau Aasmaan’ from Baar Baar Dekho is one such example. While the film tanked, ‘Sau Aasmaan’ was the road trip song of the year.
Since his debut with ‘Tumko Toh Aana Hi Tha’ in the 2014 Salman Khan starrer Jai Ho, Malik has been a fixture on the Bollywood music scene and has had a hit almost every year. He has lent his voice for top films like Khoobsurat (2014), Kapoor & Sons (2016), M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story (2016), October (2018) and Badla (2019).
That’s not all — Malik has dubbed for My Name Is Khan and BBC Radio 1’s audio version of Slumdog Millionaire and is the voice of Aladdin in the Hindi version of the classic Disney movie. Both the Malik brothers, Amaal and Armaan, are known to speak their minds, with the former having bashed the Hindi music industry multiple times for being biased and unsupportive of talent. In this, Armaan has constantly supported his brother.
In a fun, chilled out chat with MW, the singer shares his plans for 2019, his take on nepotism and why there’s “painful music” being produced these days.
You’re pretty young and have already accomplished so much. Is there ever a fear of saturation? Do you feel like “now what?”
The driving force for me to keep going is the hunger I have for bigger dreams and aspirations immediately after I achieve something huge. I don’t get too happy with any accomplishment and I feel that’s a good way to keep the fire burning. I believe a lot in higher power and patience. Every time I ask myself the question ‘now what?’, the universe asks me to wait and be patient, it’s all going to happen.
Are there any regrets? Any projects you wish you had taken up but couldn’t?
Honestly, I am the kind of person who doesn’t dwell too much in the past. I don’t hold regrets. I move on. My motto — just like my Instagram bio — has always been “onwards and upwards, no looking back.” I always stay true to this.
Nowadays, we see actors venturing into the field of music. Have you ever thought about acting?
I have never thought about acting. My focus and passion has always been music. Many people have asked me to join their films but I never took that route. I personally feel, just the way I devoted my life to music, any other art form requires the same kind of devotion and effort. For me, there’s so much more to do in music itself that I can’t think of myself doing something I hardly know or feel comfortable doing. Having said that, if in the future, I ever take up acting, I will only do it if I’m fully prepared with all the skills that come with the job.
There’s no doubt that you’re talented — you’ve had a hit song almost every year. But do you think belonging to a film family has helped you?
I’m literally tired of answering this question (laughs). Despite being from a well-known family, I participated in Sa Re Ga Ma Pa to compete with talents across the nation on my own steam. I sang jingles and songs for composers like Amit Trivedi, Vishal-Shekhar and Salim-Sulaiman only on the basis of how I vocally delivered as a singer. I chose to take my own route and carve my own career. I agree that certain relationships that my parents have had in the industry have helped me get to the door of opportunity, but that is all. After that, if I didn’t deliver, I wouldn’t be singing the song. Talent prevails — not the name.
Which song do you think has been a true game-changer in your career?
‘Bol Do Na Zara’. This is that one song that really reached out to the listeners the most and gave me the recognition I enjoy today. I’ve noticed that when people mention my name anywhere, ‘Bol Do Na Zara’ is definitely mentioned in the same breath. Hence, I can easily ascertain that it’s been a game-changer for me.
You and Amaal [Malik] collaborate often. Is it easier or tougher because he is your brother? How do you settle your differences?
It’s easy and tough, both. It’s easy because he and I both know what we want and how we want the song to sound. It gets tough when he wants me to unlearn a few things. I’m a perfectionist and he doesn’t like perfection; he likes rawness, honesty and feel and sometimes those are the toughest things to achieve. We settle it by fighting till a point where we don’t want to see each other (laughs). Then I sing the song in anger and it all happens in one go — he approves it, and we both go home happy. These creative fights are better for the song and ultimately the song gets the best takes it deserves.
Amaal has previously complained about stagnation in the music industry. Did you agree with him then and do you agree with him now?
I completely agree with him. The music industry has been churning out some really painful music recently and it’s disheartening to see creative souls being brutally forced to do music they don’t wish to put out. Hopefully, this phase shall come to an end and creativity will flourish once again.
How do you deal with competition?
I have blinders on. I don’t look at anyone as competition. Everyone is different and brings their own element to the table which is how it should be. I am busy focusing on my career and my life and that way I function better.
Who has been your inspiration?I look up to a lot of people but Sonu Nigam has been my biggest inspiration. His singing and musicality have always inspired me and I’m lucky to have interacted with him on many occasions.
Is there anybody you would like to work with?
Among the composers, I would love to sing for Pritam and among the actors, my dream is to sing for the king of romance – Shah Rukh Khan.
What’s in the pipeline for you this year and the next?
Everything. I am a coach on the Indian version of the popular international singing reality TV show – The Voice. It’s surreal to know that 13 years back, I was a contestant on a show and now I’m on the other side of the table, scouting young and upcoming singing talents in the country, alongside legends like AR Rahman and Adnan Sami. Also, working on some really different non-film music this year. I can’t wait for the fans to hear these new musical flavours of me.