If he’s in the mood to talk he can be an interviewer’s delight. Sonu Nigam, who was in town on Monday to perform at a private function, spoke about his music, his failed acting ambitions and his plans for the future.
On any talent hunt show Sonu’s name crops up somehow. Budding singers refer to him as being “an inspiration”. What is his advise to them?
“Stay away from controversy, don’t play mind games like many do nowadays. People will revere you for your art and not for anything else,” comes his reply. He takes the names of Lata Mangeshkar, Kishore Kumar, Mohammed Rafi, Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan, “who are all there because people respect them, not for their marketing skills but for their art.”
He’s been in the news recently for his tiffs with singer Himesh Reshammiya and a freelance scribe. The two singers made public statements against each other in the past and even refused to work together. Sonu has always maintained that the problem has been from Himesh’s side.
He seems blasé about the controversies and says, “It’s part and parcel of life. Nobody’s life is smooth, even if I were an ordinary person my life would be difficult. They have not been able to affect me. They have looked completely helpless in front of everybody. I don’t have the time for all this because I have to constantly hone my skills as a performer to be in the news.”
<b1>Talking about music, he hardly sings in films now, “I have learnt to say no to people. And this I learnt after my films as an actor flopped. I realised that I had to be unapproachable and unavailable and then only will people respect me.”
But whatever he sings is a hit, be it the title track of Salaam-e-Ishq or Main Agar Kahoon from Om Shanti Om.
“Watch out for Jodhaa-Akbar. I have also sung in a few other films, but I can’t remember the names,” he adds. SRK and Sonu have struck a great combination with numbers like Suraj hua (Kabhi Khushie Kabhie Gham), Satrangee (Dil Se), Kal Ho Naa Ho (Kal Ho Naa Ho) and the latest track from OSO.
However, Sonu’s voice suits all actors unlike the Rajesh Khanna-Kishore or Dharmendra-Rafi jodis.
“I don’t study actors that well. My aim is to be the bridge between the emotions of the melody and the actor. I can’t sing like Shah Rukh Khan or Hrithik Roshan. They are not singers. Even a layman knows how they speak but the magic is to use their voice styles in a song,” says Sonu who is also judging the Saregamapa Li’l Champs on Zee TV.
Sonu asks us to look forward to his new album which is about to release in January. “People who have heard the album feel that it’s the finest in the history of Indipop. It is not for those who don’t understand music,” he says.