He is possibly one of the most versatile and best-known singers of the Hindi film industry today. That Sukhwinder Singh has sung for virtually all the top heroes of Bollywood is just one of his many achievements. On his 42nd birthday, we caught up with him.
What are your plans for today?
Since 7am, I've had a mehfil of songs at my place and all my singer friends have been joining us through the day. We plan to spend the day like this.
If you were to name your one favourite song, it would be...
I'll tell you two. The first is Ramta Jogi from the film Taal, which creates a different kind of energy when you listen to it and I'm often asked to start concert or show performances with this one. The other one would be the song Chal Chal Mere Sang Sang from the film Astitva (the music of which was composed by Singh himself).
A fact not many people know about you?
I used to be an athlete. I was a 100 metre runner and I have great regard for sportspersons. (No wonder the singer has sung the very popular songs like the title track of Chak De India and the catchy slow motion Angreza from the recent Bhaag Milkha Bhaag!)
If you were to summarise yourself in a line?
Patthar ke jigar waalon, gham mein woh ravaani hai, khud raah bana lega, behta hua paani hai.
More on the singer
Singh, who had been doing public performances from a very young age, got his first Bollywood break in the famous Dilip Kumar film Karma (1986). The singer sang a song Bekadron Se Kar Ke Pyar in the film Nachnewale Gaanewale and was also seen performing it on the stage in the film. He also proceeded to do background scores for films like the Manisha Koirala debut film Saudagar (1991). However, most of this work went unnoticed until 1998.
The year 1998 suddenly brought the spotlight on Sukhwinder Singh when he created ripples with his song Ramta Jogi and Kariye Na in Taal. The same year, Singh also sang the legendary song Chhaiyya Chaiyya from the film Dil Se, which shot him to instant fame and he became a household name. He also received the Filmfare Best Male Playback Award for the song. And the rest, as they say is history.
There was no looking back for the singer, who went on to sing memorable songs like the tough Rut Aa Gayi Re from Earth the same year. Ironically, all his renditions that year were compositions by AR Rahman.
Singh sang for many popular films like Thakshak, Tere Naam, Kaante, Omkara, Fashion, Agneepath, Dabangg and Ek Tha Tiger.
In 2009, Sukhwinder Singh won another award. He was given the Filmfare Best Male Playback Award for his song Haule Haule from the hilm Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. Ironically, Singh won both his Filmfare awards for singing for Shah Rukh Khan.
His very famous song Jai Ho! from Slumdog Millionaire too became internationally acclaimed and won the Oscar in 2010. It also won a Grammy.
He also composed the soundtrack for films like Biwi No. 1, Black and White, Halla Bol and Rakta Charitra.