ANI Photo | “You are capable of much more”: Anu Malik shares story behind making of ‘Sandese Aate Hai’

It’s been well over two decades since the song ‘Sandese Aate Hai’ from the 1997 magnum opus ‘Border’ first came out. But the raging chartbuster composed by Anu Malik, which was a musical ode to our jawans and the sacrifices they make for the country, continues to tug at our heartstrings even to this day.
In an exclusive interview with ANI, the singer-composer revealed how poet-lyricist Javed Akhtar, who penned the words of this iconic number sung by Sonu Nigam and Roopkumar Rathod, asked for his “autograph” after the song was made.
Sharing the story behind the making of ‘Sandese Aate Hai’ and how filmmaker-producer JP Dutta and Javed Akhtar convinced him to compose the song, Malik said, “The ‘Border’ has a different story. I was going through a difficult phase of my life when JP Sahab called me. He showed me some stills of jawans manning the borders. I was in the mood to make a lighthearted song like ‘Oonchi Hai Building’ or ‘Ek Garam Chai Ki Pyali’ … I was in that zone. And I have been a huge fan of Pancham Da (RD Burman), as he could give you a song like ‘Dum Maro Dum’ as well as ‘Kuchh To Log Kahenge’. So, I wanted to say, I could give you ‘Oonchi Hai Building’ and also compose ‘Aye Jaate Hue Lamho’.
He said the images of soldiers standing alert on the border made him emotional and he poured out all his emotions into that song. “When I looked at the stills, a particular image caught my attention. It was of the jawans guarding our frontiers while there was snow everywhere. I was moved by that image and recorded a love song. However, he (JP Dutta) said as good as the song was, it was befitting of the moment that he wanted to capture in the song. After the song was recorded, he put it aside. He loved the song but said, ‘You are capable of much more’. I took a look at the picture again and started crying. The tears just kept streaming down my eyes. Seeing me in tears, he said, ‘These tears will now help you create music. You will now start composing for Border’.”
“After that meeting, I started to think about the song and one day Javed Sahab and JP Dutta knocked on my door and the rest is history. I started thinking of all our jawans — in the army, navy, air force or police, everyone who defends and secures our country. And I said for ‘Border’, there’s got to be something else. And I started reimagining everything. One day, there was a knock on my door while I was busy composing other songs. In the 90s, I was flying. I was doing so many things at that time — performing at shows, making songs, meeting producers, doing two songs a day and whatnot. So, suddenly, JP Dutta and Javed Akhtar entered and closed the door of the music room behind them. Then, Javed Sahab asked me to take a pen before they both began reading out the ‘Sandese Aate Hai’ lyrics to me. I was thinking, where are the Mukhda and Antara? It sounded like adverbs and proverbs. There was no poetry, it read like a story. And I saw the script, running into 11 to 15 pages. I asked when was this song going to end. To this, they looked at me and Javed Sahab told JP Sahab, ‘Leave him for one month with this script, we will come back after one month and he would be ready with the song by then’.”
Anu shared how he reduced the runtime of this song from 11 minutes to 7.5 minutes while also sharing a sweet moment with Javed Akhtar.
“When I read, ‘Aye Guzarne Waali Hava Bata’, I started humming the tune under my breath. Suddenly, Javeed sahab looked at me and said, ‘what are you saying? The moment I sang, ‘Wahan Rehti Hai Meri Boodhi Maa’, and, out of the blue, I started singing the whole song and JP Sahab looked at me and Javed Sahab got up to fetch a cassette and asked, ‘Would you please give me an autograph?’. I made ‘Sandese Aate Hai’ of 7.5-minute runtime. Everyone was so thrilled with how the song had turned out. JP Sahab, who seldom lets out what he is feeling inside, got up, nodded and said, ‘let’s go for it’. His father was also there, OP uncle.”
Sharing how he brought Sonu Nigam and Roopkumar Rathod on board for ‘Sandese Aate Hai’, he said, “There was a young singer in my mind and I told JP Sahab, ‘let’s take Roopkumar Rathod on board as I have seen him at your place’. ‘There is also another young man whom I met in Delhi. I like his voice’, I told JP Sahab, adding, ‘His name is Sonu Nigam. I promised him that someday, I will give him work’. And, I wanted to give him that song. It was a big deal. Even today, when the song is played, people catch hold of me, giving me hugs. At airports, I met jawans who introduced me to their mothers by saying, he made the song ‘Sandese Aate Hai’. It is an overwhelming feeling.”
Over the course of an illustrious musical career, Malik has prduced many hits such as ‘Taal Pe Jab’ and ‘Mere Humsafar’ from the film ‘Refugee’, ‘Tumse Milke Dilka Jo Haal’ from ‘Main Hoon Na’, ‘ Baazigar O Baazigar’ from ‘Baazigar’ and many more.

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