Having to prove my secular state of mind is a joke: Sonu Nigam
Sonu Nigam talks about the recent azaan controversy, international artistes, westernisation and many more issues.bollywood Updated: May 14, 2017 12:30 IST
Lately, Sonu Nigam has been in the news after he tweeted about azaan (morning prayers) being played on loudspeakers at wee hours in the morning for which the singer faced backlash. “It is inevitable, in a country that is so used to the feudalistic mindset. Some people have lesser self-respect and more egos in this country,” says Sonu.
“It’s difficult for them probably to trust anybody who makes a statement because they don’t want to believe that the source of a statement could be from a blessed pure space. They are used to crooked, manipulative people around them making statements, influencing them,” elaborates the singer.
According to the artiste, it [the Azan incident] was an enlightening experience for him. “I didn’t have the backing of any political party. An entire group of people was trolling me. The interesting part is that I am not allowed to give an opinion, but they are allowed to hurl abuses at me. Having to prove my secular state of mind is a joke. People who are not secular are walking on safe grounds. But I also got such huge support after the incident,” says Sonu, who feels the issue “had to be addressed”.
Sonu Nigam has been the voice behind many popular tracks over the years. Now, the singer will be singing in films such as the Sanjay Dutt biopic and Toilet — Ek Prem Katha. Ask him if has consciously become selective as far as singing for film projects is concerned, and he says he doesn’t have to.
“As you evolve in life, your network of people dwindles. So, I don’t have to consciously choose lesser songs, because now lesser people come to me. There are people who detest my attitude. Unka seedhe aadmi ke saath nahi jamta (They are not used to dealing with straightforward people). If I work for the next 10 years, and sing multiple songs and receive more awards, and then suddenly I die, people will say usne itne gaane gaye, mujhe kya farak pada usme (he sang many songs, but how did it affect me). I lost the prime years of my life only creating a legacy,” he says.
Recently, Justin Bieber performed in Mumbai as part of his Purpose Tour. There were articles about his elaborate demands and requirements. “I am surprised that India made such a big deal out of it,” says Sonu, who reveals that it’s not a new phenomenon.
“That’s how artistes function. It is not the first time someone has come to India and made their demands. Be it Ricky Martin or even Madonna for that matter — demands sabke hote hai, ab yeh inka statement kehlo. (Everyone has their demands; you could call it their statement). The bigger the artiste, the more their demands. I think only Indian singers bechare seedhe log hai, maangte nahi hai (Indian singers, are simple and don’t have demands). Having said that, there are some who make unnecessary demands. But my only demand is privacy,” says the senior singer.
A rare picture that my sister sent me of me on my mother's lap back stage in Chicago perhaps, of 2009. This used to be my heaven. See you Ma pic.twitter.com/Ftb9cS0hxi— Sonu Nigam (@sonunigam) 24 April 2017
However, it’s a great time as the world is becoming a smaller place with all the global creative exchange. “India is a very big market and the West knows that. The fashion industry and the makeup industry also wants to tap into the market. Even during recession, only India sustained. People want to come to India. They know Indians are getting richer with every passing day and India is doing well. Hopefully, it will only get better,” says Sonu.
With the diminishing Indian classical music in Bollywood movies, is Westernisation affecting the content too? “That’s a good question. I say this with no negativity, change is inevitable. Though songs do sound different and very international, this is how it had to be. But I feel, we shouldn’t have lost the typical Bollywood signature like how it was back in the day. Something should have sustained. Maybe it will return in another form, you never know,” says the singer.”
Sharing a memory from my unplanned visit to Nainital after d jungles of Sitavani. What a beautiful cute little town. Must visit. pic.twitter.com/HUUb5drZ8D— Sonu Nigam (@sonunigam) 24 April 2017
Recently, Sonu Nigam judged the ninth season of Indian Idol. However, there have been no reality talent shows curated solely for composers. Ask him about this concept, which has not been explored, he says, “A friend of mine had suggested this idea to me, some ten years ago. I don’t know if TV channels will be game for it. There is nothing for lyricists too. TV as a medium is a different ball game altogether. Gone are the days when you could actually come out with a concept and the channel will take it. Today, the corporate system has become too complex. Sabke apne views honge, sabko apni salary justify karni hai (Everyone has their own views, and has to justify their salaries), whether they have knowledge or not, but they will have a viewpoint. Even if you have genuinely good ideas, there are ten people who will [want to] justify their salaries. But it’s a very good concept and it will give encouragement to some new composers, and maybe, some good music will be created. Hope it becomes a reality someday,” says Sonu.