Saqib Malik’s upcoming film Baaji has been occupying the headlines for myriad reasons, one of them being the storm it has created in breathing new life into vintage tracks from Pakistani cinema’s golden era. Composer Taha Malik was handed over the task for recreating the club number from the 70's Khiltee kali for its contemporary version, a preview of which was released just prior to Eid-ul-Fitr. The modern rendition has received much praise for retaining the essence of the original melody while transforming it to a modern, hip club anthem. HIP got in touch with Taha Malik to have a conversation about the song, its backstory and what other tricks the musician has in his bag for the film….
“Saqib (Malik) had approached me to bring a contemporary sound to the film. He’s known for his music videos — he understands music and how it works with the visuals,” he revealed, adding “In fact, I was surprised to learn that he listens to all kinds of music. He let me experiment and push the envelope — we trusted each other. Saqib is not into micromanaging, but he knows what works and what he likes.”
Composing the track was no ordinary job as the Laal Kabootar composer was severely time constrained. “Believe it or not, the first draft of Khiltee Kali was done in two days — and they went to shoot with that draft. We were facing a time-crunch, and it was definitely stressful. Of course, I worked on it a bit later for the final version, just refining things for the big screen.” Taha also had to make sure he captured the right feel and sound for the modern version. “Saqib is a huge fan of the classics and has a vast knowledge of the Lollywood repertoire. I had to make sure that I captured the right vocal performance with the nuances this kind of song demands. And Zeb did a great job!”
Among the noteworthy aspects of the song was the way in which singer Zeb Bangash’s voice sounds uniquely different to suit actors Amna Ilyas and Meera. Taha revealed that, however, was incidental. “When I made the first draft we had rough demo vocals. After the song was shot, I recorded the final vocals in Lahore with Zeb. We didn’t really treat the different portions based on matching Amna or Meera. But maybe we should have, now that you mention it. I guess we lucked out? (laughs)”
Taha has one more track in store for the film, about which he remained tantalizingly tightlipped. “There is one more track which I have composed, an original composition of mine. With a surprise vocalist! And another big surprise also. You’ll find out shortly—can’t say much yet!”
With EDM being all the rage, does Taha define his sound as electronic? Not quite, he says. “I like experimenting. I've said this somewhere else, I like to bend genres. I never wanted to be that electronic guy (laughs). I love technology, synths, and gear obviously. It's a wonderful time to be recording and making music--I remember the limitations from just 16-17 years ago when I started recording music on computers.”
Talking about what’s lined up for the future, he revealed “A couple of films, most likely. I’m always doing commercials. I’m trying to just take some time off and chill for a bit also, focus on family, etcetera. There is a project that I’m developing at the moment, which I’ll be able to talk more about soon.”
Till the moment you catch the movie’s complete soundtrack, here is a preview of Khiltee Kali from Baaji…