Pitch perfect

in conversation

Pitch perfect

“There may be numerous musical reality shows and several winners. But only real talent lasts. Others just vamoose soon after!” says Sunidhi Chauhan, owner of a versatile voice in the world of music of Bollywood.

Way back in 1996, Sunidhi was the winner of the very first musical reality show, Meri Awaz Suno, on Doordarshan. At the time she was just a 14-year-old. Today, she is judging another music reality show, Voice of India, on &tv, along with other singers including Shaan, Mika and Himesh Reshammiya. She has been a judge along with the likes of renowned Asha Bhosle on the immensely popular musical reality show — Indian Idol for seasons 5 and 6.

Winner of several awards in the best singer category, the best compliment the young singer has got so far is by the legendary Lata Mangeshkar. In an interview, the doyen of Bollywood music had said, “At present, Sunidhi is numero uno. She can sing all kinds of songs and her voice and style is one that the gen-next hankers after!”

That’s one compliment that any singer, aspiring or established, could only dream of. Sunidhi, who has a fan base the world over, is comfortable singing anything from peppy item songs to melodious slow numbers. Her repertoire includes chartbusters like “Beedi jalai le” (Omkaara), “Sheila ki Jawanai” (Tees maar Khan), “Desi girl” (Dostana), “Pyar ki yeh kahani suno” (Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd) and innumerable others. Hindi film music isn’t her only forte, as Sunidhi has sung for Kannada, Tamil, Marathi, Punjabi and Telugu films as well. She has also lent her voice for a couple of Pakistani films. To her credit are title songs of TV serials like Pavitra Rishta, Hitler Didi, Tumhari Paakhi, Sharaarat and others.

Reality bites

Sunidhi admits that since she entered the music scene in 1996, there has been a drastic change in the functioning of music reality shows and its participants. Earlier, it was just a competition and now it’s a reality show. “In the older shows, judges gave the final verdict. Now it’s the audience and their votes which project a winner,” Sunidhi explains. She also admits that many a time the audience is swayed by other factors rather than talent and may not deliver the right verdict. But the industry does take note of real talent. “Of late,” she laughingly acknowledges, “only losers have been successful playback singers!”

The arrogance and display of over-confidence among present-day participants of music reality shows puts Sunidhi off. Say she, “We have to bring them down a notch or two to make them behave and sing in a normal way.”

Reality shows do give the much-needed platform for upcoming singers. “Even if some participants don’t win and reach the top 10 positions, the visibility of the shows is good enough for them to get calls from event managers to perform at various events,” she says.  

Though popular as a playback singer, of late Sunidhi has become a regular performer in stage shows. She dances, acts and, of course, sings to suit the younger audience. In fact, she can easily be termed as a desi Madonna, a Taylor Swift or a Beyonce.

She admits, “A performer has to engage the audience. The present audience needs something extra. Just standing in one place and performing won’t do. We have to dance, get a more dramatic stage arrangement or add additional props to make the performance a sizzling one. The presentation has to be great to keep the audience hooked.”

Star performer

According to Sunidhi , a live performance connects the performer with the audience brilliantly and is experiential. If the audience is bored, they react instantly. Recalling her performance at the awards ceremony for the Pakistan TV channel, HUM TV in Dubai, the singer says, “The reaction of the audience was so striking that I could feel them enjoying not only the popular songs, but also relish each word of the song. I could feel their euphoria and naturally, I too got caught into it.”

Sunidhi is now gearing up to don a different hat — act in films. She has lost oodles of weight and looks trim for her new role. Says she, “Music will always be my first love. But if I get a chance I would like to act in a couple of films. Who doesn’t want to be seen on the big screen!”

Presently, Sunidhi is busy collaborating with several international composers. She has already worked with artistes like Enrique Iglesias on a song titled “Heartbeat”, Pakistani band Junoon for two songs, and singer Faakhir Mehmood for the album Mantra besides Raghav Sacchar, Apache Indian and Ishq Bector of India. “Today there is immense scope to experiment in music. It’s the best time to be in the world of music,” says the sensational singer.

Though she has sung almost all genres of songs, one hadn’t heard her sing the current hot trend — rap. “I have recorded a couple of raps also, but they are yet to be released,” she declares.

Asked if she is worried by the entry of new singers diluting the quality and the competition? She answers: “I don’t believe in competitions as there is a huge space here. All are invited. Audience loves variety.”

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