Born Athar Ul-Haque in Bahawalpur, Pakistan, Malik moved to Brighton at the age of two when his father got a job as a surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital. Malik trained at Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
Talking about his first Bollywood project, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Malik compares it with having worked on Granada Television's The Jewel in the Crown:“Jewel in the Crown and Passage to India have very much a Western voice on how that [colonialism] has affected the West. So it was very interesting to be involved in a project which is the Indian voice of all that. And what a fantastic story – if out of all that horror of the Partition you get this wonderful spirit that is Milkha Singh, and he goes on to do something absolutely extraordinary with his life. It really is up to you what you do with your life, even if everything is stacked against you, you can come through.”
(Source: Interview with Malik in Firstpost.Bollywood - http://www.firstpost.com/bollywood/in-bhaag-milkha-bhaag-art-malik-final...)