Being the son of composer Sardar Malik, Daboo Malik had an inclination towards music but he was more interested in facing the camera as an actor. In the 80s and the 90s, he acted in a bunch of films and television shows (including ‘Baazigar’ and ‘Mahabharat’) in minor roles. When he did not get the kind of opportunities he had hoped for as an actor, Daboo, like elder brother Anu Malik and younger brother Abu Malik, turned to music. His journey as a composer began in the early 2000s. Today, we rewind the music of ‘Yeh Zindagi Ka Safar’. It was the first film which Daboo was credited with composing songs for. The film was produced by Mahesh and Mukesh Bhatt whom Daboo had earlier collaborated on Kasoor (background score).
While one did not have much of an idea about Daboo’s capabilities as a music director as it was the first film he was composing songs for, one had good expectations from the music for a couple of reasons. Vishesh Films, a company owned by Mukesh Bhatt, was known to produce films that boasted of very good music. Director Tanuja Chandra had earlier made ‘Sangharsh’ for the same company which had a bevy of gorgeous melodies by Jatin-Lalit. ‘Yeh Zindagi Ka Safar’ was based on a sensitive subject and one expected the film to have soft and soothing melodies that would complement the narrative of the film.
In the film, Ameesha Patel played a young woman who, one day, discovers that the man who raised her is not her real father. She goes out in search of her parents. When she finally finds the woman who gave birth to her, she discovers an uncomfortable truth that breaks her heart completely. “Dil To Kehta Hai” brings the pain and anguish of her character to the fore effectively. The Daboo Malik composed tune tugs at your heartstrings and if you have a very soft heart, it might make you reach out for the tissue as well. “Kya khataa ki jiski humko toh khabar bhi naa huyee, jaane kyon humse khafa hain yeh zamaane waale, humko apna lein yeh unko toh ganwaara bhi nahin” – Salim Bijnori’s lines are steeped in melancholy and are highly effective. The sombreness in the song is also accentuated wonderfully by Alka Yagnik’s rendition. The alternate version has the same tune and lyrics but with Kumar Sanu behind the mic. It is as good as the original but the one sung by Alka is more in sync with the storyline of the film.
In “Haalat Naa Poocho”, we get to know about the predicament of Jai, the character played by Jimmy Sheirgill. Though it is a romantic number, it has a philosophical bent to it and a hint of sadness. Both the tune and the lyrics convey the feelings of a young man who is going through the joy of falling in love but also laments the fact that it is a one-sided affair. Being the fine actor Jimmy Sheirgill is, he conveys the various emotions his character his going through wonderfully on the screen. Daboo was given the task of putting together a bittersweet composition – one that had joy and sorrow in equal and controlled measures – and he does that wonderfully well. The simple but wonderfully poetic lines are written by Anwar Sagar. The late lyricist passed away earlier this year and is best known for writing the song ‘Waada Raha Sanam’ from the Akshay Kumar starrer ‘Khiladi’ (1992). Kumar Sanu’s heartfelt rendition is one of the many wonderful things about this song.
“Nikal Padi” is the only song on the soundtrack on which Udit Narayan’s voice is heard. This is also the only song on the album which can be best described as a ‘situational’ number and one which is better seen than heard. The song has an interesting rhythmic structure and the synth sound carries it well but it is not a musical piece that you would like to hear on a loop. The tune or rather the style of composition reminds one of the Vishal Bhardwaj composed title track of the Hansal Mehta directed ‘Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar’ which released around a year before this particular film.
Ameesha Patel played a pop singer in the film and “Main Kaun Hoon” is a song which she renders as a recording artiste. This song, thus, is not directly connected to the main plot of the film. But, if you listen to the lyrics (Salim Bijnori) carefully, you will realize the song, in a way, depicts Ameesha’s character’s journey during the course of the film. Daboo seeks inspiration from western classical music and incorporates elements from it while creating this sweeping melody. Jaspinder Narula brings a certain gravitas to the song with her singing. Notice the effortless way in which she sings the high notes. The song has good visual appeal but works wonderfully as a standalone audio track too.
Shortly after the release of their debut film ‘Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya’, in which they contributed one song (“Teri Jawaani Badi Mast Mast”), Sajid-Wajid had music sittings with Mahesh and Mukesh Bhatt for a film they were producing for Tanuja Chandra at that point of time. That particular film did not get made but one of the songs that was finalized during the music sittings made it to ‘Yeh Zindagi Ka Safar’.
The song in question is “Ahista Ahista”, Sajid-Wajid’s sole contribution to this album. The song is similar to the kind of romantic numbers Sajid-Wajid composed around the same time like “Kuch Tum Kaho” (‘Shararat’), “Yeh Bekhudi Deewangi” (‘Tumko Na Bhul Payenge’) and “Zindagi Mein Ek Bhi Lamhaa” (‘Khoya Khoya Chand’/private album). The mild touch of melancholy and the fervour of romance in the song is accentuated wonderfully by Sonu Nigam’s rendition and Faaiz Anwar’s lyrics. Shraddha Pandit, the female vocalist credited here, just gets to hum a few lines but does that very well. Incidentally, the mood and feel of the song is quite similar to “Hum Badi Door Chale Aaye” and “Pehli Pehli Baar”, the two duets Sonu and Shraddha performed for the film ‘Sangharsh’.
Another wonderful song rendered by Sonu Nigam for the film is “Aye Chand Khoobsurat”. This one is composed by Daboo Malik and Nasir Faraaz. The opening lines, I presume, have been hummed by Daboo himself. As Sonu takes over, you cannot help but captivated by the powerful melody of the track. The orchestral arrangements consist of acoustic guitar, piano, pads, among other instruments. The backgrounds are lovely and add to the sonic appeal of the song. “Main toh hoon zarra tanha zameen par, tum mere gham baant lo, kuch saath apna to kaam aaye, dil se kuch gham kam to ho….” – Nasir Faraaz’s lyrics are one of the highpoints of the song.
The underlying sadness in the film or in the protagonist’s life comes alive in the Hariharan sung “Zamane Mein Sabhi Ko”. The song has a ghazal-like feel to it and one could not imagine any other singer doing it the kind of justice which Hariharan does to the track. One also realises that Salim Bijnori, who has done very limited work in films as a lyricist, deserved so much more. He writes some sparklingly beautiful lines like “Chura lo tum Khushi ke pal muqaddar ke khazaane se, bhala kab door hote hain yeh gham aansoo bahaane se….” that are a testimony to his talent. Daboo, like elder brother Anu Malik, has largely been a self-taught composer but a composition like this belies that fact. It is one of those compositions that reflect the maturity in him as a music director.
‘Yeh Zindagi Ka Safar’ is one of the earliest albums Daboo Malik put together as a composer. The album is a testimony to the fact that he was adept at creating melodies that had a timeless appeal to them. Had the film worked, the music would have reached out to a larger number of people at that time. While listening to the album, one also realizes that the kind of orchestral arrangement Daboo put together for this album was very different from the kind of sound his successive songs had.
Most of the songs had western instruments like acoustic guitar, piano etcetera playing in the background. Also, these instruments were used minimally. Some of his other popular songs like “Thoda Sa Pyaar” (‘Maine Dil Tujhko Diya’) and “Milti Hai Jhukti Hai” (‘Pyaasa’) had a distinctive Indian sound to them. ‘Yeh Zindagi Ka Safar’ remains one of the most underrated soundtracks for a Vishesh Films production and the best album by Daboo Malik till date.