Sonu Nigam on 2 songs that are close to his heart and how they were composed: “Listen to Karan Johar or Nikkhil Advani…”
Sonu Nigam says that if he hadn’t made songs across genres, people would have cataloged him to sing only sad songs or copy Mohammed Rafi. âAfter learning from veterans like Rafi Sahab and Kishore Kumar, when I was able to sing an original song, I tried to put my style into it. It finally took me out of that mold, âSonu said.
The singer-songwriter ace may have sung in almost every Indian language, but it took a while for him to prove his versatility. Sonu nigam reveals that shortly after the release of Bewafa Sanam (1995), one of his first notable albums, he was afraid of being cataloged.
âAfter ‘Achha Sila Diya’ people thought I could only sing sad songs. They never thought that I could also do a “What is a mobile number”. They transcribe you. In 1997, ‘Sandese Aate Hain’ came along and it became an overnight success. But people still thought that I would only sing patriotic songs. With ‘Yeh Dil Deewana’ they finally took me as a versatile singer. So a collection of these hit songs catapulted me into the category of a good singer â, Sonu nigam says indianexpress.com.
Sonu started singing at a very young age and picked it up professionally in the early 1990s. After years of wrestling, Border, Pardes and Dil Se performed around 1997-1998. As Sonu became the most sought after voice in playback singing, he also began producing and appearing on his solo albums. He also became the first Indian singer to host a reality show – Sa Re Ga Ma around the same time. With an equally magnetic on-screen presence, Sonu found huge fame in no time.
Was it coming in front of the camera, an organic switch? âI was expecting it! It was quite late. When ‘Tu’ came out in 1998, I was already seven years old in Mumbai and my show Sa Re Ga Ma had been going on for over three years with excellent TRPs. was famous but wanted to have my indie music and indie movies. It finally started releasing in 1998 when I was 25. The wait was long but I was overwhelmed by the response. Phir toh line lag gayi!
While some of his Indie-pop albums were also written and composed by him, others had his voice and his face, and were promoted in his name. âDeewana, Jaan, Yaad, Kismat, Mausam were albums that had my color, they were created with me in mind. ‘You’ had a bit of Uzbek influence. Kismat and Mausam also had classical songs, western jazz ballets. So we worked according to our will. This, when I was already singing for films. As an artist, it’s very rewarding when your movies, albums and TV shows, everything is a success, ârecalls Sonu, adding that the secret to the success of each of his albums was good intention.
It is difficult to select the peak of Sonu’s career, he has been an integral part of the Indian music scene for the past three decades, setting benchmarks and being a source of inspiration for generations of artists like Armaan Malik, Ankit Tiwari and Mithoon. He admits that at one point, he was recording a dozen songs a day. âSome days we worked on the whole album. I even sang 40 Odiya songs in a month. These were days of hard work. It’s a commitment I made to my profession, which I will never take lightly. Previously we were in the wholesale business, today we are busy by choice, âSonu said.
Reflecting on his two songs, which are as special to him as his fans – “Kal Ho Naa Ho” and “Abhi Mujh Mein Kahin”, Sonu also marked a similarity. âThe two songs have one thing in common. Their second attempt was approved.
Kal Ho Naa Ho was Sonu’s first time teaming up with debut director Nikkhil Advani. He had previously worked with Karan Johar in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham and had her confidence. âThere was a dilemma about who should I listen to, Karan or Nikkhil. But very quickly, everyone understood that it was just necessary to let me do it and not to give a lot of instructions. I did it on my second attempt, in 15-20 minutes. With ‘Abhi Mujh Mein Kahin’ too, I didn’t have the perfect voice on the first try. I asked the manufacturers to register it after 3 days. But my voice improved the next day and I recorded it at 2 p.m.
Both songs won several awards and became iconic. Sonu believes the two tracks “managed to make positive cuts in the hearts of connoisseurs.”
But what does he do if he does not understand the melody or the mood of a song correctly? He feels like when several people on the team start giving their opinions, the process of creating a song gets delayed. âNowadays people who are not involved in the music creation process also comment that they don’t find the song exciting. So a song is not difficult. Perceptions are difficult and it takes time. But that’s how a work of art is made. When you do something collectively, you have to respect everyone’s opinion. Otherwise, I don’t take more than 20 or 40 minutes maximum to record a song.
Sonu has lent his voice to almost every actor today, from Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan to Govinda, Akshay Kumar and even Amitabh Bachchan. We asked him to choose an actor who he believes carries his voice to perfection.
“If I sing for Sunny Deol I will have to keep his character in mind, for Govinda I have to play in a certain way, for Shah Rukh Khan I have to bring that kind of romance, for Salman Khan there has to be a pinch so for all my songs, I kept the actor in mind. Hrithik RoshanThe character of Agneepath is different from Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. The tone will therefore be different for “Abhi Mujh Mein Kahin” and “You Are My Sonia”. I also sang for Amitabh Bachchan and even for Prem Chopra, can you imagine? Sonu shared.
However, the singer continues to lean on to give the original singers full credit for any recess or remix, “If this singer had never performed this song, you would never have heard this song.” Sonu, also agreed that the Indian music scene has changed over time, which may have made him selective on singing reading. According to him, in the past, producers chose their music composers, but today music is controlled by music companies, which have their own songs, composers, lyricists and others.
âIf they have their group of people, you can’t tell them you need work. And after such a great life and career, I prefer to work with people who approach me and say that only I can do it. It’s more exciting. At this point in my career, I can’t be in the recording studio from 9 a.m. to midnight. We did it when we were young, âhe explained.
Sonu had previously uploaded a video to social media in which he showed the monopoly of music labels in controlling the industry today. Sonu’s point of view even received great support from his colleagues. He said, however, that he had never said anything against anyone in particular.
âWhatever I told you, there was nothing negative about it. I never said it was wrong or wrong. I mentioned the current business module. We have to make peace with the existing scenario. Today’s new singers have the chance to join a music company or camp. Its good. Having said that, people might think I called the music companies. But there isn’t a single music company that has bad will against me, including T-Series. We are still friends.
Sonu has seen the heights of success and fandom that an artist can achieve. But his stint as an actor is a part of his career that could not take off. Sonu, however, has no regrets. He sees it more as an experience. âTake it that way. As toddlers we all try to walk and fall. Today, when we can walk easily, do we wish we could regret falling as a child? Sonu agreed.
He added that choosing films like Jaani Dushman, Kash Aap Hamare Hote and Love in Nepal was neither his fault nor his bad luck. âI choose films with as much understanding as I had, even if they were the ones I shouldn’t have. Today, when you can walk and then if you fall, it’s your fault. I was so young. People came to me and said “Sonu, you are our child, please make this movie” and I did. I didn’t know how the film was going to take shape. At least people appreciate that I haven’t signed more movies. I have learned from all my experiences. It was part of my childhood. So, no regrets. “
But what’s stopping him from judging reality shows, considering he was in the first two seasons of Indian idol? Sonu points out that today his instinct does not allow him to do such shows. âI am a man of clear words. No one can tell me how to behave because we belong to this purest school of music and life. If I am asked to do it, I will. But will I really like to do things I don’t want to do on reality shows? “
According to Sonu nigam, the rise of OTT platforms has become an obstacle for channels and programming teams in terms of TRP. In such desperation to catch the eyeballs, the chains try different things. He said, âIt’s not their fault because they don’t want their program to drown. They are justified in doing things. But if I feel like I can’t help it all, I’d rather stay away than disappoint them. I’m judging a show in Bengal – Super Singer on Star Jalsa. I feel this is proof of my interest. It has Kaushiki Chakraborty and Kumar Sanu, and a purist atmosphere. I feel comfortable there and hope they don’t ask me for such a melodrama. If they do, we’ll see!
Sonu has spent most of his time with his wife and son in Dubai over the past few years. While Indian audiences got to watch his son Neevan sing songs like âKolaveri Diâ and âAbhi Mujhe Mein Kahinâ at a young age, Sonu shared that he might never start singing professionally in India.
âHe doesn’t sing songs in Hindi. He has other interests. He paints very well, he cooks well, he’s a very good player. His entire circle of friends in Dubai is into American and Western music. Even if he has to sing, he will sing songs in English. So, as a parent, it’s my job not to tell her what to do. But never say never. Maybe when he grows up Hindi songs will be done in English, âSonu concludes with a smile.
Happy birthday, Sonu Nigam!