The right notes

The right notes

Music Matters

The right notes

Gifted : Sonu Nigam

Clones of famous singers do not last long. Be it a Kumar Sanu trying to ape Kishore Kumar or a Mohd Aziz imitating Mohd Rafi, they have been in the limelight for a few years only to be relegated to oblivion, later. The Hindi film music industry has been ruthless to clones. If you have to survive, you have to establish your own identity.

And that is precisely what Sonu Nigam did. The most-wanted singer in Bollywood today, Nigam started his career by singing cover versions of Mohd Rafi hits for T-Series. Although he did gain popularity after hosting Sa Re Ga Ma, he became Bollywood’s most sought-after playback singer only after his superhit number, Yeh Dil Deewana from Pardes.

He returns to television as a judge in X Factor on Sony Entertainment Television. “I have always believed in creating my own identity and never tried to imitate anyone. That does not mean I have not learned from my predecessors. I have tried to imbibe good qualities from the people I admire,” says Sonu Nigam.

On the situation of playback singers in Bollywood, Sonu says, “A number of good singers are not getting enough opportunities. Today, music directors give opportunities to only those singers with whom they can do shows later. Whether they are capable of singing a particular song or not is not even considered.”

Worried about this developing trend, Sonu decided to take a break and spent close to a year in the US, jamming up with musicians in the West Coast. In fact, he was also planning to release an album there.

Says Sonu, “I will need some more time before I can complete and release the album. My mother has been diagnosed with cancer and till she recovers, I cannot leave her and go abroad for a long duration.” The wait will definitely be worth it, considering Nigam’s albums have always been chartbusters. Songs like Deewana Main Hoon Tera or Bijuriya, from his non-film albums, have been extremely popular.

What does he think about the new breed of singers who are being churned out of reality shows on television? Are they even talented to have a successful or rather long-lasting career in the Hindi film industry? “Some singers, for instance, Rahul Vaidya, are really talented. I really do not know why they are not getting a chance in playback singing. A few are doing well, especially in stage shows.”

In the past, we have seen talented singers like Amit Kumar retiring from playback singing and concentrating only on stage shows. Amit was not happy with the deteriorating quality of songs being composed for Hindi films and the kind of treatment music directors were meting out to singers. Sonu partially agrees and says that a stage show is the right platform to test a singer’s mettle. “I feel happy to know that many stage shows are being conducted across the country. What’s even better is that budding singers are also getting a chance to sing for a large audience and have the opportunity to earn money.”

So, what brings him back to television? Sonu was a judge on Indian Idol but he chose to discontinue his commitment to the show. “It reached a point wherein the whole exercise was only to earn TRPs and not to celebrate music. I did not want to be associated with such shows and therefore, I took a break. I chose to judge X Factor only because it is a reality show for kids,” Nigam explains.

The singer has also been experimenting with his looks lately. “Why is that people keep questioning and discussing about my looks? Why is a singer targeted for trying to look good?” he asks.

All we hope for is that we are regularly treated to his soulful voice, both on television and films. 

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