Anu Malik is in seventh heaven. Not only is his Tinku jiya song from Yamla Pagla Deewana creating ripples in the music world but the film itself has also clicked with the audience. Sometimes, a song may become popular but the film may not work at the box-office. In this freewheeling interview, Anu humbly accepts the accolades while also answering some difficult questions.
‘Tinku Jiya’ from ‘Yamla Pagla Deewana’ has brought you back in the reckoning.
I seriously feel that I never went away from the world of music. I did five seasons of ‘Indian Idol’ and three seasons of ‘Entertainment Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega’. These television shows became huge hits. But what happens is that when you have done 30 years of hard work in the industry, there are people who still believe in you. As seasons change every six or seven years, new composers come in, and filmmakers start working with the new crop. Of late, producers and directors have even been going for multiple composers. See, we are a success-driven industry where the stakes are so high that I would never blame a producer, actor, director, audio company or the media for abandoning me.
But what were you doing during the time when new composers were coming in?
What was I doing? You should ask the producers where were they? I am still here. If you notice, some of the topmost directors of the Hindi film industry – Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Farah Khan, Shirish Kunder, Saabir Khan and Ken Ghosh – have launched their careers with me. As far as my working with Rajkumar Hirani is concerned, I was lucky that he chose me for his first film, Munnabhai M.B.B.S.. Hirani is a brilliant director with or without me. I have also given my best to J.P. Dutta, even bagging the National Award for his film, Refugee. Other people (composers) came in and people shifted gears and went with them. But I am not the one to ask anyone why they went to other composers. Basically, I am a very proud and attitude-wala Scorpio. I do great work and then I leave the rest to God. I come from a generation which understands the plight of the producer. Some years ago, the corporates took over production by throwing millions here and there like chana. But I come from an era when we used to break coconuts and have muhurts for the success of the film.
How do you feel about directors who didn’t repeat you?
It’s a strange move on their part. You give the best to a director but he doesn’t repeat you. Sometimes, there is an ego problem. Over the years, I have also noticed that directors might not work again with you, irrespective of whether you have delivered a hit or a flop. It is fate, but it doesn’t bother me much. I move on. But I look forward to working with new directors who would challenge me, musically. I am a great admirer of what Kiran Rao did in Dhobi Ghat, of Ayan Mukerji (Wake Up Sid). I want to work with people who really believe in music.
How did ‘Yamla Pagla Deewana’ happen to you?
‘Yamla Pagla Deewana’ is a huge hit in my life. I was not the composer of the film initially, but suddenly one day, I got a phone call and was asked if I had any songs ready. I have always had a soft corner for Dharamji because I grew up on his films like Sholay and Jugnu. So, when Sunny Deol called me to their bungalow, I felt a great bonding with Sunny. I also saw a steely resolve in Dharamji’s eyes. When they told me about the song situation in the film, I had no song ready, but I had a mukhda in mind: Pal pal na maane ye Tinku jiya, ishak ka manjan ghise hain piya. And I remember Sunny getting up and saying, ‘We should use this song for Bobby’s entry in the film.’ This is when I realised that the Deols were searching for an item song. I have given music for item songs before also, Chhamma chamma being one of them. During the recording of the Tinku jiya song, Sunny thanked me for standing by the Deols. By God’s grace, this film has become a hit and is doing fantastic business all over. My song, Tinku jiya, is playing everywhere.
Multiple music composers in one film have become the norm now. Are you comfortable working with other music directors?
I am not comfortable working with other music composers because I am a brand name while the others may not be. But it is not an unhealthy trend either because if your song becomes a very big hit, you will get individual credit for it. I think a man should change with time. You see, I am a futuristic man. You can’t rest on your past laurels by saying that I have won three Filmfare Awards and one National Award. But a guy or girl of 24 years is not bothered about what you did yesterday. Now, you have technology: the Internet, Facebook and Twitter. The youngsters hear something and form opinion instantly. When they heard Anu Malik’s Tinku jiya, they picked it up too.
You have many firsts to your credit.
If you notice, I was the first to use English words in songs.Think about my song, Sexy sexy sexy mujhe log bole. The use of the word ‘sexy’ might be commonplace today, but when I used it, it created a furore because no one had done it before. I’m more like a trend-setter. After I did a Sufi song, people started doing Sufi songs. My song from Baazigar, Yeh kaali kaali aankhen, is still danced on at awards functions. My song, Chhamma chhamma, went into the international movie, Moulin Rouge, which starred Nicole Kidman. I have launched many singers but now, I am busy launching myself and my daughter, Anmol, who has sung the song, Talli ho gayi, from Ugly Aur Pagli. The good thing is that with the success of ‘Yamla Pagla Deewana’, many people have started coming to me. I have signed one very big film with a topnotch director, for which I am going to compose all the songs. Three to five directors have approached me and I am committed to working with them. They want the Tan tana tan tan tan taara guy back. I must tell you that Tinku jiya is a hit without an item girl! I did not have any sexy female star for Tinku jiya. I only had Dharamji and Bobby Deol. In fact, I call it a male item song!
Do you have any friends in the industry?
I am friendly with all the music composers. I am very impressed with Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s work. I also like Pritam, Vishal-Shekhar, Salim-Sulaiman, all their songs have been very creative. I respect them for that. Then, to get a hit in ‘Yamla Pagla Deewana’, with all these good music directors around, is a great compliment to a music director called Anu Malik also. And although I have worked with both, Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan, on many occasions, I just love Aamir Khan because of his fine nature. We are good friends and he gives me lots of warmth and love.