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His father's son

Anu Malik, often accused of plagiarism, is a much misunderstood man. However, his recent music has brought him back into the reckoning.



FINE TUNING: Fame and status did not come easy for Anu Malik

NOBODY WANTS me," thus said Sardar Malik, composer of the legendary song of pain, agony and nostalgia Saranga Teri Yaad Main from Saranga to his seven-year-old son Anu Malik, 34 years ago. "... So why should I go to anybody for work?" It was then and there that Anu Malik decided to become a music director.

Sporting a funky T-shirt, jeans and cap, a dress that does not go with his traditional mind, Anu attempts to control his tears while mentioning a painful past his father and his family went through.

He was in New Delhi to judge the young singing talents in "Surtarang-2003", a Sangam Kala Group's national talent hunt musical programme.

For this November-born 41-year-old, who on one side faces allegations of plagiarism and on the other scores some of the most hummable tunes as in Refugee, Border, Josh and Filhaal, music did not come easily, nor did fame or status.

``My father was a struggler despite giving some of the best scores to the music industry," Anu recalls on a note of nostalgia.

"When I was seven, I asked him why he did not go out of home and do some films? He said, Mujhe koi nahin chahta, I asked why? He had no answer. I asked him to play his tunes for me. He played, Saranga Teri Yaad Main. I cried. He had a wife and three kids to feed, all on his talent but he was a man of self-respect, so would never go to anyone for favours. Once, when we ran out of all money to feed ourselves, my mother insisted, `You are so talented and your close friends know it. Why don't you go to them? What are friends for?' `I won't go alone, you come with me','' he said. ``We reached a big, posh bungalow called `Parchaiyaan' of Sahir Ludhianvi, his close pal. I realised that while climbing the top floor to his room, his face turned pale. He extended his hand to ring the doorbell, but pulled back, repeatedly. His hands were shaking. It was so difficult to beg. His eyes were moist. Finally, he told me `Let's go back. Nobody likes me'.''

From the next day, Anu visited people in Bollywood looking for a chance to score music.

``People would laugh at me saying, `What wonder can you do at such a young age? Go and study. Come when you grow up'.''

It kept happening till he was 16, when finally he got Aapas Ki Baat.

``I did Sohni Mahiwaal when I was 18,'' says Anu with a smile.

The popularity of Sohni Mahiwaal flooded him with offers.

But Anu credits Amitabh Bachchan's Mard for changing his life. "I had Amitji appreciating me. He says, `Anu, you are the best."

But then, his score in Ganga Jamuna Saraswati set him back.

``I had no work after this film. Till Baazigar I sat at home.'' A time when his college mate, now wife, Anju, was his strength. He married her at 26.

Call him a copycat and he will give you ample examples of the master musicians of Bollywood who were influenced by music from the West . ``You know R. D. Burman's Chura Liya song is inspired by If It is Tuesday, It Is Belgium? You know that legends like C. Ramchandra picked up some foreign tunes when he made Anaarkali? Shankar Jaikishan was greatly influenced by Wahabi folklore and many of his compositions boast of that. Naushad Saab and Madan Mohan were impressed with our traditional music and they used it heavily in their music. It never took away their genius. So how come Anu Malik is blamed for it? Just because of Why did you break my heart and a few others you label me a copycat forever? You forget my original compositions in other films,'' he shoots back.

Anu is still not satisfied. ``You know what? Some journalists run out of ideas, so when they get one point, they harp on it for years. They never write when I grab Gurinder Chadda's Bride and Prejudice which has seven songs?'' While scoring music what does he keep in mind? ``The over all ambience of the film, the hero, heroine and how they look like.'' He tells you that Hrithik Roshan inspires him romantically, Shah Rukh, energy-wise, and for Anu, he is ``ultimate'' as Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan. Kareena is his ``close friend''. Ask him about his new ventures, LOC, Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon and Main Hoon Na and he is all praise for them. ``LOC is my creative best. `Main Prem ... 's 11 songs are my romantic best and Main Hoon ... is my flirtatious best.'' Mention remixes and he turns angry. ``It is a money-making racket. Music has become a joke, no copyrights, and no laws. Now people are fed up. They don't buy it.''

Has he learnt classical music? ``Not formally. But god guides me. I knew nothing about ragas but would compose. Experts would say, it is raag Yaman, Dhaiwat or Bhim Palasi but I would not know. But now I can recognise these ragas.''

What does he miss in the music industry? ``Songs of Sahir, Shailendra, Hasrat Jaipuri. How can good music be given if songs are worthless?''

True!

RANA A. SIDDIQUI

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