Besides being among the top singers of India, Sukhwinder Singh has proved time and again that he can deliver in almost any genre that he is asked to sing in. For example, the singer crooned ‘Dard-E-disco’ (Om Shanti Om; 2007) and the title track of Chak de! India (2007) in the same week. He’s often hailed for his sufi tunes, but Sukhwinder reveals that he loves to sing dance numbers. Excerpts from an interview:
How do you switch from singing a peppy number to an intense song?
Versatility is the best quality of an artiste. It happens perfectly when someone tells me exactly how I have to sing. I don’t interrupt during a narration, because jo sun sakta hai, woh samajh sakta hai. Jo samajh lega, woh kar lega, (One who can listen properly can understand well. And one who can understand well, can perform well). Before I sit down for a narration, I fool around and crack jokes, but when the narration begins, I concentrate on every word, and I take lot of interest in understanding the content. For me, it’s like watching a film. Even if someone is narrating something to me in Japanese, I can understand if the narrator is passionate about his art just from their expressions. It’s the best language.
Watch the full title song of Chak De! India here:
How has the music industry changed over the years?
Learning music is very interesting for me, because I get to learn so many different things. It’s also interesting for me to accept change. The changes that are happening in the industry are both good and bad. I always choose the good changes. I will always change with the times; be it clothes or the trends. For Sachin: A Billion Dreams, I sang opera for the first time. It is Indian opera. I listen to a lot of opera. There are 24 hours in a day and there is lots of time to learn new things (laughs).
You have worked with many composers through the years. Who are you most comfortable with?
I love every composer. I work with new composers too. They may not have enough experience but they have passion. I have sung for Vishal Bhardwaj, and he is brilliant. We can’t talk about his talent just with regard to Rangoon. I received my third National Award when I sang for Haider (2014). His music is very different [from most popular music]. I have seen [AR] Rahman listening to his music. I cannot afford to choose a favourite music composer. I wasn’t experienced when I started, so your experience keeps increasing, but your passion stays. I don’t even care about the star cast. A lot of times, I find out about the cast after I have recorded the song, and even if I know who the song is going to be picturised on, I sing for the character and not the actor.
Watch the full video of ‘Bismil’ (Haider;2014) here:
How important are awards to you?
Awards are a gift. They bring happiness. It helps strengthen your passion. Awards also increase your popularity and take you to a point where you have to choose between pride and progress. Some people who cannot digest this, fall. People who feel happy keep that gift aside and look for more work. Awards boost your morale and make you feel like you should do more good work, but you can’t talk about it all the time.
Kailash Kher recently said that it’s not right for actors to perform with international musicians when they come to India...
He should then be in a position like hers [Sonakshi Sinha]. Why is he crying? (smiles). And I don’t think Sonakshi is making her career in singing. Even if she singing, she is not doing it to launch herself as an international singer. We should consider it a part of the glamour world and nothing else. One should not fight for it. Kailash is an emotional person, but he is a good musician. He also writes well. More than a singer, I can say he is one of the better writers that we have. What he said is not completely wrong, but I would say it’s just for fun. She won’t sound bad with [Justin] Bieber. She is also going to depend on technology just like him, so it’s not a problem.