BY ANUJ RADIA
A velvety voice, an irresistible charm and a charisma that smitten not thousands, but millions across the globe.
Hailing from a renowned musical family and despite being trained in Hindustani Classical, Malik’s versatility as a singer extends to other world genres like Pop/R&B, EDM and Big Band to name a few.
Since his first break as an adult playback singer with Salman Khan’s Jai Ho in 2014, the singing sensation has gone on to win several prestigious awards like Filmfare, Dadasaheb Phalke Award, Stardust, Big Star, Radio Mirchi and GiMA.
Recognised for popular tracks like ‘Main Hoon Hero Tera’, ‘Wajah Tum Ho’, ‘Bol Do Na Zara’ and ‘Sab Tera’, 22-year-old Armaan Malik is one of the finest talents in the Bollywood music industry today.
After a lengthy anticipation by fans and admirers, Armaan Malik finally becomes the voice for Varun Dhawan in Shoojit Sircar’s forthcoming film, October.
His song ‘Theher Ja’ from October has a strong breezy, emotional and yet uplifting atmosphere, it is truly a Bollywood love-song like no other.
The song has become so popular, that it has grossed over 10 million views within a week since the video released on YouTube.
In a candid interview with Asian Style, Armaan Malik talks about ‘Theher Ja,’ his music career and more!
Armaan, what was it about ‘Theher Ja’ that stroke a chord with you?
It’s not another love song that I’ve sung. It’s very different. The lyrics are very simple but still heart-touching and the beats of the song are very unusual, unlike a normal love song in Bollywood.
It has got this laid-back vibe and has got this kick-drum with nice funky baseline happening.
While the song itself is quite emotional as the male character [in the track] talks about how he wants her [the beloved] to wait to convey his emotions to her, but not now, ‘I just want her to wait a little bit more.’
That’s what the lyrics are conveying, yet there is an upbeat groove to the song. It is that contrast that really worked for me.
It was a very interesting and exciting collaboration with Varun Dhawan. For a long time, I’ve always wanted to sing for him. Finally, it’s happened in October.
How much could you personally resonate with the lyrics of ‘Theher Ja’?
‘Theher Ja’ is so amazingly described. Even though the lyrics are so simple like the first two lines are: ‘Saal Badla, Haal Badla, Tere Aaane Se. Zindagi Ka Khayal Badla, Tere Aane Se.’
It says so much and so little, that’s the beauty of the lyrics and I definitely resonate with this.
When I heard the song for the first time, I asked the composer who wrote the song, to which he told me it’s Abhiruchi.
She (Abhiruchi) previously wrote the song ‘Buddhu Sa Mann’ from Kapoor & Sons, which I sang. I didn’t know she had written ‘Theher Ja’ so I went into the studio and they handed me a sheet of the lyric and I was like ‘wow – this is really interesting.’
It’s so simple. Sometimes simplicity is the key it just tends so much without saying a lot. I think that’s the beauty of the song.
Also, the treatment of the song by Abhishek Arora – He’s done a fab job of the production and composition of this track.
It’s very unlike a quintessential romantic song you would hear for a Bollywood film. It has this very nice European vibe to it.
You have cited that it’s a ‘dream come true’ to sing for Varun Dhawan. How supportive has he been towards you?
I couldn’t have asked for a better actor than Varun. I think he is fabulous at what he does and he is so hands-on. That’s the biggest positive thing I can say about him.
He, as an actor, is involved in every stage of the song – especially if it’s about the mixing, mastering or feeling whether the beats are right.
Many of the times, an actor is usually in their own space. I.e. Doing their acting bit or being with the director, but for the first time, I’ve seen an actor who is so involved in a song.
It was really sweet of him, he called me up one evening and said “your fans have been requesting me and my fans have been requesting me to get you on board for one of my songs.
He had done this tweet where he wanted to find the ‘voice of October’ and he got a lot of messages from people stating my name. That’s when he called me and said: “this has to happen now.”
Our collaboration didn’t happen before due to some reason or the other. But everything finally came together for October and now it is out – Theher Ja [laughs].
The name ‘Armaan Malik’ promises pure quality. Having received fame at quite a young age, would you say it is pleasure or pressure?
First, that is a very tricky question [laughs]. To be honest, I didn’t expect so much to happen to me at such an early age of my career.
Everything has happened so quickly that I have not got the time to understand what’s happened and that is the beauty of it.
If you really understand what’s happening [in terms of popularity and fame], that is when you start taking yourself seriously and that should not happen.
To an artist, it’s really important that you go-with-the-flow, do your music, let the music flow with the audiences and never take what you have achieved too seriously because that holds you down.
I’ve always been driven to do bigger and better. For me, quality over quantity has always been the case.
Even during 2016 and 2017, I was really conscious of the songs that were released under my name and the kind of artistry I wanted to put out.
The track, ‘Tere Mere’ from Chef, even though the movie didn’t go on to do that well, the song itself had so much of a fan-following.
For new concerts, whatever I’ve been doing, everyone has just been rooting for ‘Tere Mere.’
It’s such a big pleasure for me to know that despite the shelf-life of a movie, a song still lives on.
It is important that I make the right song choices and the stuff I do because it is an extension of me as an artist.
With every step, I just want good music to come out. That is always my main focus.
Your brother, Amaal Malik, is an exceptional composer and singer. How does your personal relationship with him influence your professional rapport?
We both started working at a young age, Amaal was 16 and I was 10.
Musically, whatever I have learnt [apart from my Gurus] is from my brother. Amaal listens to a lot of world music.
He has a varied taste in music and sometimes many people don’t believe it, but he [Amaal] often listens to instrumental music.
This inspires him and instrumentals play so much importance in his musical taste.
I have just been influenced by him in such a musical way. We have grown together musically, rather than just as being brothers – which is a very beautiful thing.
He used to listen to a lot of Western music when we were growing up and I used to learn Indian classical. I used to share Raagas with him and he used to share the music he was listening to.
Our first collaboration happened in Salman Khan’s Jai Ho, which was my debut as an adult playback singer and Amaal’s debut as a composer.
After that, he did a lot of tracks with Arijit [in tracks like ‘Sooraj Dooba Hain’ and ‘Soch Na Sake’] and with so many other amazing people.
I’m so glad that I have Amaal as my brother because I can go to these recordings and learn so much from the other singers too.
For me learning never stops, so it is such a beautiful thing at home. In fact, it’s like a jamming session at home. It’s just music, music and music [laughs].
Would you consider becoming an actor anytime soon?
Well, as of now, I’m focusing a lot on music. But since so many people want to see me on-screen and on video, I’ve been making a lot of music videos, in many of which I feature in.
A single of mine is coming out very soon where I’m featuring in the video. Probably, that’s a slow transition into something [regarding acting].
For me, personally, if I want to do something, I should be very good at it.
Like I always said, when it comes to my music/singing, I’ve put in so many years of training. Hence, I can sing live and perform the way I do.
It is the same thing with any other profession or art. It’s important to put in that much time.
So if in the future I decide that I want to do acting, I will put in a lot of time and learn acting, rather than just come out and do acting.
I don’t want to come on-screen and someone says that I don’t know acting. I really don’t want that to happen [laughs].
A good singer needs to eat in order to perform well. Armaan, what is your favourite food dish?
My favourite is actually North-Indian food, dishes like Butter Chicken, Daal Makhani and Butter Naan, that’s the stable diet of mine [laughs].
There is no ‘Gaana’ without ‘Khaana.’ That is the phrase that works in my family, even for my brother, we all are foodies.
For us, we cannot make music without food.
Who first springs to mind when I say to you, ‘Main Hoon Hero Tera’ and why?
I would definitely say, Salman Khan, because he has definitely been a hero to me. He was the first one to introduce me to the film industry.
Finally, what message would you like to convey to all the fans out there?
I just want to say to all my fans in the UK, in India and all over the world, that I really love them.
Apart from music, they love artists like us, as people too. That’s such an amazing thing that I can connect with them on a human-level, rather than just as an idol and fan.
Thank you to everyone for being there in my life, for loving me so much and connecting with me. I’m sure whatever song I do, I’ll always stay connected with you and give you all my love.
Listen to our interview with Armaan Malik right here on our SoundCloud page, plus he sings a few lines of ‘Theher Ja’ for us!
Overall, it is very difficult to break through the Bollywood music industry. With cut-throat competition rising every year, to survive and to continuously impress is a mission in itself.
However, Armaan Malik’s success proves that hard-work combined with talent is the perfect formula to triumph.
But besides Armaan’s terrific skills as a singer and performer, it is his grounded upbringing and humble demeanour which makes this artist loved by the masses.
Asian Style wishes Armaan Malik all the best for his forthcoming projects!
October releases in cinemas worldwide on 13th April 2018.