Pitching it right
Sonu Nigam may not foster any favourites when it comes to music. But that doesn’t stop him from discussing his fondness for the Kannada music industry and more, with Devapriyo Bhattacharjee.
Art and music know no barriers. Both stretch their arms beyond regional, linguistic and cultural boundaries. They deny confinement to any one thought or action and live in the realms of a beautiful imaginary cosmos, adorned by the strokes of seven notes. It is with this magic of music that Sonu Nigam, an artiste par excellence, has been blessed with.
The singer has given numerous hits in Hindi films, and has entered Bollywood’s league of celebrated singers. But, Sonu Nigam has a special place for the Kannada music industry as well, for, he loves singing his Kannada hits. “Even if someone requests me to sing the Mungaru malaye song while I’m performing in the West
Indies, I will sing it for them,” says the singer.
The singer reveals that after Mumbai, the only place that has given him some great musical opportunities is Bangalore. “I highly respect the muscians of Karnataka and many of my favourite songs are in Kannada. I consider Bangalore as my second birth place.”
Sonu has sung more than 600 songs in Kannada and has numerous hits to his credit. He has also sung several non-film Kannada songs, Neene bari neene being one of his Kannada albums.
Though the singer has had a successful stint in playback singing in Hindi, Kannada and other regional languages, he considers non-film music superior and nearer to his heart. “There is no music industry in India. Music is just a part of films. People think that only film music works.
But when I perform on stage, people still request for Bijuriya, which is from one of my albums. I think people remember me more for my albums Jaan or Deewana than for Kal Ho Na Ho or any other Bollywod number. Besides, on the personal front, I am still appreciated by many music exponents for my album Classically Mild.”
Sonu explains that an artist’s satisfaction lies in singing for albums, albeit if it is promoted well. “It is a general practice in our industry where people are scared of sponsoring the promotion of albums. This mindset needs to change ”
Sonu believes that though there has been a great transition in the style of Bollywood music, Bollywood music is not encouraging enough. There is plenty of scope for singers and musicians to prove their mettle through albums. “Pritam brought some change into Bollywood music through the introduction of pop culture and I feel that it has given a new style and sound to film music.
There are music directors like Rehman and others who are providing quality content. But overall, Bollywood is not making great music. Most of the songs are item numbers which have a short life span.”
Sonu, who was recently heard in Agneepath, has cut down on playback singing and is focussing instead on various other aspects. Sonu, who had collaborated with international stars like Britney Spears and Jermaine Jackson last year, has recently recorded a song for one of the top DJs of present time Avacii. The singer says that he will soon shoot a video in Europe for the same.
For this widely-travelled 38-year-old singer, stage performances give immense satisfaction as there is live interaction with the audience. Critiquing the critics, Sonu explained that film music is at the mercy of their reviews, as these influence public opinion to a great extent. “Critics sit between the singer and the audience in film music. And their review influences public opinion. Some do not even have a fair idea of music and still give their verdict. On stage, there is no middle man. People judge an artiste by his talent and hard work.”
Sonu has charmed music lovers through his mesmerising articulations for over a decade now. But, he targets the silver screen and intends to try out acting on a serious note. Sonu started his acting career as a child artiste in films like Betaab, Jaani Dushman, Kaash Aap Hamare Hote and Love In Nepal. All the three films were box office duds.
He has, however, become more cautious when it comes to picking up acting assignments. “I am not proud of any of the movies that I have done so far, aside from Love In Nepal. But, I am a hard working and honest artiste. I do my work with passion and sincerity.” This year, the singer adds, might mark his re-entry into the silver screen. Other than acting, Sonu has also partnered with acclaimed tabla player Bickram Ghosh for composing music for a film titled Jal.
The singer had contemplated shifting base to the US in 2009. But, his mother’s ill health and the propensity for growth that the Indian entertainment industry had shown held him back. He adds that the sector has transformed since then, even to the extent of becoming one of the leading industries in entertainment.
These words have their reassuring affect. We know that he is here to stay.