Sonu Niigaam is “always insecure”. What’s more, he thinks “it is necessary”, so that he does not take himself for granted. In a recent Delhi-wide poll by Fever 104 FM, Sonu was named the favourite singer, ahead of even Kishore Kumar. Feels good? “Nobody aims to become better than Kishore Kumar,” says the singer, here to perform at an event held by the NGO Mahavir International. “I don’t want to beat a legend like him.” However, “it is a great emotional feeling. I feel greatly honoured.”
Reportedly, he has on occasions publicly expressed dissatisfaction over the recognition he has got as a singer, but talking to HT City, Sonu claims to have got “extraordinary critical acclaim” from senior musicians like Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma and Pt Hariprasad Chaurasia. “Lataji and Ashaji speak well of me. My peers look up to me.” Churning out hits is not the only measure of success, he feels. “I’d be very ashamed if I gave hits after hits but my colleagues laughed at me saying, ‘He is singing nonsense.’”
One of Bollywood’s most wanted playback artists, Sonu started performing for a fee of Rs 175 per show. Now, he is recording more than ever, and has a “huge international project” in music coming up.
Even with shelves full of awards, Sonu wishes his voice could be like someone else’s — that of Shaan. “He has such a beautiful voice.” But otherwise, he sees no rivals. “I am my own competition,” he says of his position.