Blast from the Past: Sonu Nigam Filmfare 2000 Interview

Today is Sonu Nigam’s birthday so check out his Interview from Filmfare October 2000 where he talks about quitting Sa Re Ga Ma, taking up acting and dubbing Kumar Sanu song from Refugee and Hariharan songs from Tera Jadoo Chal Gayaa.

I prefered to quit Sa RE Ga Ma before things got sour and turned bitter. Where’s the time to quarrel?

He attracts controversies like moths to the fire. Yet he refuses to be stymied. From being called a Rafi sound-alike he’s scaled to a top-line crooner. Recently, the fur flew when he announced his decision to turn actor. Which is why I landed up at his residence to find out why. Excerpts:

So is an actor’s life any different from that of a singer’s? Nothing has changed for me. I’ve become far more systematic now. I spend 70 per cent of my time working while the rest I spend working out to keep fit.

Have you joined any acting class?

No, not yet. I’m too busy with my singing. Moreover, I’m quite embarrassed to rehearse with other students. Maybe I’ll approach a senior star to coach me.

Do you think you will be able to do justice to acting?
I’ll be able to do a good job of acting only if I put my heart and soul in it. Right now singing still takes up all my time and energy. If I take up acting, I intend to give it my all. I’ve signed up a lot of movies, but I won’t hesitate to return the signing amount if I’m not comfortable with acting.

When are the films going on the floor?
Maybe by the end of this year. I have asked for some more time and my producers don’t mind waiting for me. I’ve signed a film with Tips and one with Akashdeep.

Don’t you think singers should stick to singing and not get into acting?
There is no hard and fast rule that singers shouldn’t take up acting. By the grace of God, I’ve been blessed with a lot of success in singing. My family has been struggling for the last three generations. After 45 years of struggle, we’ve got some success and satisfaction. When I quit Sa Re Ga Ma, I used to get three or four film offers every week. I was shocked and surprised. The whole thing really boosted my ego. I took it as a sign from the lord above and decided to give it a shot. Of course, I’ll work harder if need be. I’m not just another rapper, nor am I Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. I do my riyaz daily and I’m certainly better than many other playback singers who haven’t ever learnt classical singing. I’ve been singing at least 4 songs a day. It will be difficult to keep up with my shows, meetings and recordings. But God has given me the strength and I don’t mind working hard. Believe it or not, I have had atleast 48 film offers. If I don’t accept some, I might regret my decision later. And I don’t want to have any regrets. Even if acting doesn’t work out I’ll be quite sporting about the whole thing. I always have my singing to fall back on.

Do you miss Sa Re Ga Ma?
Yes, I do. I miss the entire team. I miss the exposure Sa Re Ga Ma gave me. It feels good to hear that people miss me in SRGM. I had built up a rapport with the audience over the years. But now, it’s all gone after I quit the programme.

The new anchors Amaan and Ayaaz Ali Bangash aren’t all that popular.
Maybe the audience has still to get used to the two boys. I think Aman and Ayaan are doing a very good job. I was not as good when I started out. They’re doing as good a job as I did.

Have you ever been invited as a guest on the show?
No. They’re aware that I won’t go since I’m not in touch with Sa Re Ga Ma team after I quit the programme. I prefered to part ways before things got sour and turned bitter. I don’t believe in fighting. Inspite of what Gajendra Singh said to a lot of people, I hold no grudges against him. It’s better to part ways than fight. Where’s the time to quarrel?

Hariharan has lambasted you for dubbing his songs in Tera Jadoo Chal Gayaa.
He’s right. I’m at fault and I apologise for what happened. When I sang Aye chand tere, I wasn’t aware that Hariharan had already recorded it. I was informed only after the song was recorded. It is the producer’s fault. When I hesitated to dub the title song for Tera Jadoo Chal Gayaa, I was told that if I didn’t sing it, someone else would. They were clear that they didn’t want to retain Hariji’s voice. Na main lad saka, na main ad saka. I thought if someone was going to dub it anyway, I might as well do it.

Even Kumar Sanu is gunning for you for dubbing his song in Refugee.
Then let me add that I’ve also dubbed for the Gaya gaya (Fiza) song which was recorded earlier by Uditji (Narayan). Anyway, tell me who set the precedents? These singers themselves. Didn’t Kumar Sanu dub songs when he was on the top? Why is he feeling bad now? I whole-heartedly agree that I am at fault for dubbing some other singer’s voice. If all the singers stop this practice, I promise to do the same. Where Refugee was concerned, I didn’t want to miss out on singing for Anu Malik in a J. P. Dutta film which was also the launching pad for Abhishek. If I had thrown tantrums then, they would’ve roped in someone else. Nobody would have taken up my case if someone else had done that to me. I think all the singers should come together, form an association and arrive at a solution. These singers who are complaining are over 40-45 years old. What kind of examples did they set for us? I have yet to reach 30, why expect me to do something that they didn’t follow when they were on the top? I’m merely aping them. They laid the foundation, why blame me?

But you just apologised for dubbing Hariharan’s song.
I respect Hariji a lot and I sincerely apologise for my mistake. While I was recording Aye chand I really didn’t know what I was getting into. But I was fully aware of dubbing Hariharan’s voice for the title song. But I didn’t have the courage to call him and say so. It’s a difficult situation. I don’t like it one bit.

You talked about success coming to your family only after three generations. But we thought you were the only singer in the family.
Oh, then you must hear my father singing. He’s got a heavenly voice. I really want him to cut an album. No one has heard him because he’s such a shy person. He takes time to open up.

Your parents must be proud of you.
I haven’t done anything for them. God makes me do things for my parents. We’ve just bought a house. My mum’s got such a big kitchen to herself. That’s enough to make her happy. And yes, she always wants me to look good and fit. As for my sisters, one is married and the other one’s studying in Mithibai college. Nikita, the younger one’s quite pampered. We are quite concerned what her future’s going to be.

What are your views on marriage?
I will go in for a love marriage. Right now, I’m really tied up with work. I’ll make a bad husband if I marry now.

What about love?
That’s a little personal.

Go on. Is there a girl in your life?
That’s again too personal.

Are you in love?
I’m in love with hundreds of girls. Maybe there is someone, maybe not. But I’m not saying anything now. I’ve lots of friends but no special friend. Where’s the time for a special friend?

Source: Filmfare October 2000

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5 Comments
  1. Milind 6 years ago

    His one song Kal Ho Na Ho remains the only song worthy of being considered as the “immortal song” from last decade. It is in the ranks of Suhana Safar and Tora Man Darpan Kehlaaye.

    Had heard him in a live concert in Kolkata– the man along with Sanu Da and Udit are the only singers I have seen who are damn confident on stage to such extent that they will run,jump on stage but their harmony with voice never breaks.

    On the contrary Kunal Gaanjawaala and a few others look as if they are under constant scrutiny.

    I had met Sanu Da on a flight to Kolkata from Delhi long ago.Wish I carried some camera mobile back then but that was year 2003 and I was just a man who had graduated from half pant to full pant. LOL! Many took autographs..my elder sister also took one and he was more than happy to give them.The man is widely recognised,loved and revered.His songs still dominate the loudspeakers,be it on Durga Pandal loudspeakers or a procession or in autos or in posh ford figos..the man sung some terrific numbers till late 90’s. His downfall was attributable to similar characteristics that Khanna showed during his peak. His house in Kolkata is still visited by many who are music fans. His albums in Bengali are awaited more than what salman fans or SRK fans wait for their star’s respective films. I remember in Esplanade,there is a shop which sells casettes,CD’s etc. It is the Baap of music world’s and Planet M. If you visit Kolkata,do go and ask the onwer the line that happened to form outside his shop in 90’s when any album whose songs were sung by Sanu Da was about to be released.The man is truly a legend.So is Udit and Alka.

    • Author
      sputnik 6 years ago

      I always felt that Panchi Nadiya from Refugee had Kumar Sanu stamp all over it and this interview confirms that he did dub for Kumar Sanu.

      Usually new singers would get a chance to sing and sometimes the producers would then have the song dubbed over by the already established popular singers. Kumar Sanu was not some new or unestablished singer that Sonu just dubbed over his voice. I read somewhere that even Haseena Maan Jaayegi songs were actually sung by Kumar Sanu and later dubbed over by Sonu Nigam.

      While Kumar Sanu’s behavior was partly to blame for his downfall but there were deliberate efforts to bring him down too.

      • Baba Ji 6 years ago

        milind – sandese aate hain was better.

        sputnik – why you think there were deliberate efforts to bring sanu down?

  2. Serenzy 6 years ago

    what does dubbing a voice for oder singer mean?

    Matlab, Sonu sang but Kumar Sanu’s Name came on the Album??

    ……

    Milind,
    Agree on the KHNH Song…Iconic Song fr me…all time fav!

    • Author
      sputnik 6 years ago

      No. It means Kumar Sanu sang the song originally and then Sonu dubbed over voice of Kumar Sanu.

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