Sonu Nigam

Sonu Nigam (born 30 July 1973)[2] is an Indian singer, music director and actor.[3] He is regarded as one of the greatest and one of the most popular singers in India of all time.[4] He sings predominantly in Hindi and Kannada language films but has also sung in Odia[5],Bengali, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Nepali, Malayalam, Kannada and other Indian languages.[6] Nigam has also released a number of non film albums and acted in some Hindi films.[7] He is known as the “Modern Rafi” after his idol Mohammad Rafi.[8] He is also regarded as "The Lord Of Chords"[9] and "The master of melody".[10] Sonu is one of the best live performer not only in India but all around the world.[11] He has recorded more than 4000 songs till date.[12]

Sonu Nigam
Nigam at the Zee Cine Awards, 2013
Nigam at the Zee Cine Awards, 2013
Background information
Born (1973-07-30) 30 July 1973 (age 48)[1]
Faridabad, Haryana, India[1]
Genres
  • Filmi music
  • Classical Music
Occupation(s)
  • Singer
  • Music Director
  • Actor
Years active1993–present
LabelsSony Music, T-Series, Tips, Saregama

Life and backgroundEdit

 
Sonu Nigam with wife Madhurima Nigam at Rakesh Roshan's birthday, 2017

Sonu Nigam was born on 30 July 1973 to Agam Kumar Nigam and Shobha Nigam in the city of Faridabad, Haryana.[13] His father was from Agra and his mother was from Garhwal.[14] His sister Teesha Nigam is also a professional singer.[15]

Nigam began singing at the age of four, when he joined his father Agam Kumar Nigam on stage to sing Mohammed Rafi's song "Kya Hua Tera Wada".[16][17] Nigam began accompanying his father on his singing appearances at weddings and parties. He moved to Mumbai with his father to begin his Bollywood singing career at the age of 19.[18] He was trained by Hindustani classical singer Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan.[19]

He married Madhurima Mishra on 15 February 2002.[20] They have a son named Nevaan.[21]

Nigam had changed his name to Sonu Niigaam citing numerology beliefs, but later decided to go back to his birth name.[22]

'I Believe Music' LabelEdit

Nigam has launched his own music label on 30 July 2020 named 'I Believe Music' and "Rudhrashtakam" is the first track to release under the label.[23][24]

Singing and composing workEdit

He has recorded Romantic, Rock, Devotional, Ghazal and Patriotic songs. He has sung in Hindi,Odia ,Bengali, English, Gujarati, Kannada, Maithili, bhojpuri, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Tamil and Telugu till date.[6][18] Nigam has released pop albums in Hindi, Kannada, Odia, Chhattisgarhi and Punjabi, as well as Hindu and Islamic devotional albums. He has released several Buddhist albums. Nigam has performed in countries in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Australia. In May–June 2007, he participated in The Incredibles tour with Asha Bhosle, Kunal Ganjawala, and Kailash Kher. From September–October of the same year, he gave solo concerts titled Simply Sonu in Canada and Germany, becoming the first Indian singer to do so.[25] In April 2008, he toured India promoting his Punjabi single "Punjabi Please".[26]

1993-1999: Starting of his careerEdit

Sonu Nigam released his first song "O Aasman Wale" from the movie Aaja Meri Jaan (1993). He released his first album "Rafi Ki Yaadein" in 1993. After this, he sung in some movies, including Muqabla (1993), Veerta (1993),Sainik (1993), Meherban (1993), Shabnam (1993), Kasam Teri Kasam (1993), Bheega Bheega Sa (1998), Aag (1994), Khuddar (1994), Hulchul (1994), Stuntman (1994), Ramjaane (1995), Khiladiyon ka Khiladi (1996), Gaddaar (1995), Sarfarosh (1999), Dand Nayak (1998), Dil Se (1998), Jaanwar (1999), Mast (1999), Sangharsh (1999), Barsaat (1995), Aur Pyar Ho Gaya (1997), Badal (1999), Dulhe Raja (1998), Jeet (1996), Hero No. 1 (1997), Soldier (1998), Jeans (1998), Devta (1998), Cheetah (1994), Maharaja (1998), Himmatvar (1996), Shera (1999), Sooryavansham (1999), etc. He began hosting the TV show, Sa Re Ga Ma in 1995 and sang "Accha Sila Diya" for the film Bewafa Sanam, achieving greater success. In the same year,[18] he sang the Anu Malik-composed song "Sandese Aate Hai" in Border and performed the Nadeem-Shravan-composed song "Yeh Dil Deewana" in Pardes in 1997. Nigam's album Deewana, with music directed by Sajid–Wajid, was released by T-Series in 1999.

2000-2010s: Career Peak & Multiple awards and nominationsEdit

Nigam provided playback singing for Hindi movies, including the title song for the film Kal Ho Naa Ho in 2003 to "Abhi Mujh Mein Kahin" for Agneepath in 2012. However, from the past few years, he has become selective about his songs so that he can focus more on creative works. His upcoming project with Bickram Ghosh named "Bollywood Retro" is one such project.

Nigam has released albums of Mohammed Rafi's songs including Rafi Ki Yaadein, a collection early in his career, which was re-released in Rafi's memory in September 2007 as a six-disc collection of 100 songs, titled Kal Aaj Aur Kal.[27] In 2008, soon after releasing Classically Mild, he released a single Punjabi track entitled "Punjabi Please"[28] and Rafi Resurrected, a two-disc collection of Rafi songs with music by the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. He contributed to the lyrics of several songs and directed the music for his album Chanda Ki Doli.

After the death of Michael Jackson, Nigam released a song as a tribute to Jackson which was included on the tribute album The Beat of Our Hearts.[29]

In this period Sonu Nigam became a top-notch artiste be it in Indipop or play back singing for the Hindi film industry. In 2005, Sony Entertainment launches the show 'Sensational Sonu Nigam - Making of a Star' which gives an insight into the life of a talented singer. [30]

In November 2007, at the inauguration of Harvard University's 28th president, Drew Gilpin Faust, Nigam sang Mahatma Gandhi's favourite bhajan, "Vaishnav Jan To Tene Kahiye", with the Harvard College Sangeet.[31]

In July 2008, he participated in a three-city tour of the United Kingdom, singing Rafi songs with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO). This followed the release of these songs by the CBSO and the Indian music company Sa Re Ga Ma on Rafi Resurrected.[32]

He participated in a US tour with Sunidhi Chauhan in 2009 called The Explosion 2009 tour and in a UK tour titled All Izz Well in November 2010. In 2011, Nigam collaborated with Kakas Entertainment and Laxmikant–Pyarelal for a Maestros Concert performing Mohammed Rafi songs.[33]

2010-present: Continuing work in Bollywood and multiple concerts and several English CollaborationsEdit

In 2010, Sonu sang some amazing songs like ""Chori Kiya Re Jiya" from Dabangg, Tees Maar Khan Title Track which he sungs in 54 voices which is a record till date.[34] Sonu also sang "Aye Janani" song for Kandahar (2010 film) in which Sonu has hit the highest note in human vocal registry with an open-throat effort without singing falsetto.[35] Sonu was awarded Global Indian Music Academy Awards 2010 for his song 'All izz Well', BIG Star Entertainment Awards for Best Playback Singer of the Decade (2000-2010) (MALE) and Global Indian Music Award for Best Live Performer (Male) in 2010.

In 2011, Nigam collaborated with Britney Spears on a remix of her "I Wanna Go" track,[36][37] and with DJ Avicii on his song "Indian Levels", produced by Avicii in 2012.[38]In 2011, Sonu also collaborated with Michael Jackson brother Jermaine Jackson on song "This Is It" which was written & composed by Sonu as tribute to Michael after his death. [39] Sonu also performed song "Let's Go for Glory" at 2011 Cricket World Cup opening ceremony composed by Sonu himself.[40]

Between 2012 - 2015 many of Sonu's songs were redudded in other singer's voices by Music companies because he was fighting for Singers royalies and he denied to sign illegal contracts. This was the time when this fight was costing him his career. But this doesn't affected him and he says that he will not support what is wrong. Sonu said "I am not scared of being out of work because eventually good sense will prevail," Some of his songs which got dubbed were from movies like Heartless, Kick, Main Tera Hero, Heropanti, Ishq Forever and many more.[41]

In 2012, Sonu's song Abhi Mujh Mein Kahin from Agneepath became a massive hit. For this song Sonu won many awards including 5th Mirchi Music Awards for Male Vocalist of The Year", BIG Star Entertainment Awards 2012, 18th Lions Gold Awards, 2013 Zee Cine Awards, 19th Lions Gold Award, 2013 Times of India Film Awards and many more. Other songs like "Shirt Da Button", "Apna Mujhe Tu Laga" and "Saanson Ne" also became popular.

In 2013, his songs like "Heer", "Pitah Se Hai Naam Tera" and "Har Ek Friend Kamina Hota Hai" became popular. He composed the title track of the film Singh Saab The Great in 2013 and has also composed music for other films including: Sooper Se Ooper and Jal, in collaboration with percussionist Bickram Ghosh in the same year.

He was ranked the Number 1 artist on the US Billboard Uncharted charts twice in September and October 2013.[42][43]

His songs from movie PK (film) "Bhagwan Hai Kahan Re Tu" and "Love is a Waste of Time" became very popular. Songs like "Dildara", "Mannat", "Kill Dill (Title Song) were also loved by people. In 2014, Sonu also released a single called "Trini Ladki" in fusion with Chutney Music.

In 2015, "Sapna Jahan" from Brothers became very popular among mass. This was Sonu's 3rd collaboration with Ajay-Atul. "Tere Bin" from Wazir was also loved by people. "O Sathi Mere" from Tanu Weds Manu: Returns became Sonu's personal favourite. In September 2015, Nigam recorded a song with the music director Khayyam for the upcoming project titled Gulam Bandhu.[44]Sonu in collaboration with T-Series releases his new single "Aa bhi jaa tu kahin se" featuring Sonu himself with Amyra Dastur.[45]Sonu also collaborated with musicians across the globe for Imagine (UNICEF: World Version) composed by John Lennon.

In 2016, Sonu released his single "Crazy Dil" featuring Rajkumar Hirani, Farah Khan, Sunil Grover, Kailash Kher, Natalie Di Luccio, Sonu himself with his son Neevan. Then Sonu released one more single "First Date" sung by Sonu & Jonita Gandhi. He also collaborated with Transgender band "6 Pack Band" for song 'Sab Rab De Bande'. In Bollywood music, his song 'Tu Hi Na Jaane' from Azhar and "Dard" from Sarabjit became popular. 'Tu Hi Na Jaane' was Sonu's first collaboration with music composer Amaal Mallik.

In 2017 Sonu did one more international collaboration, this time with Indian-American DJ kshmr on song 'Underwater'.[46]His independent song with Shreya Ghoshal called 'Aye Jahaan Aasmaan' bagged him 9th Mirchi Music Awards for Indie Pop Song of the Year. The song was composed by Abhishek Ray. Cricketer Sachin Tendulkar collaborated with Sonu for his debut single "Sachin's Cricket Wali Beat" feat. Sonu & Sachin.[47] "The Goggle Song" from Mubarakan became very popular among youth. "Hans Mat Pagli" & "Gori Tu Latth Maar" from Toilet: Ek Prem Katha became super hit and "Maana Ke Hum Yaar Nahin" from Meri Pyaari Bindu became new love anthem. Sonu also sang one song in Shah Rukh Khan starrer Raees named "Halka Halka" but the song was not included in film because of creative reasons. Later the song was released on YouTube.[48] Sonu composed one song in movie Half Widow called "Kuch Baaqi Hai" which was also sung by him. He also sang one song "Aazaadiyan" with Rahat Fateh Ali Khan from Begum Jaan composed by Anu Malik.

In 2018, Sonu collaborated with American Rapper MC Yogi for song "Hall Of Fame". Sonu sang song "Aye Zindagi" composed by Vishal Mishra having five other versions of Asha Bhoshle, Alka Yagnik, Suresh Wadkar, Abhijeet Bhattacharya and Shaan (singer). Sonu also teamed up with Meet Bros for dance number "Totta" feat. Sonu Nigam with Kainaat Arora.[49] Sonu lend his voice for a romantic number "Chaahaton Ke Saaye Mein" which was loved by fans. In Bollywood, he sang a peppy number in Sanju called "Main Badhiya Tu Bhi Badhiya" which became very famous. Sonu sang melodious song "Kulfi" from 102 Not Out for Salim-Sulaiman. Sonu once again collaborated with Anu Malik for "Raat Kitni" and "Main Zinda Hoon" for movie Paltan. He also sang one song "Baaki Hai" in 5 Weddings and one "Betahasha" for Kaashi in Search of Ganga. Sonu sang remake of "Badan Pe Sitare" for Anil Kapoor starrer Fanney Khan. Sonu revealed that he was first avoiding to because he doesn't want to temper original songs but Anil himself called Sonu to sing this classis as he was playing an ardent follower of Rafi sahab in the film, and that's why he wanted Sonu to give him his voice.[50] Sonu also sang songs for social causes. Song "Tik Tik Plastic" was sung with social message of 'Say No To Plastic'.[51] He also collaborated with Amruta Fadnavis wife of then CM of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis for song "Mumbai River Anthem" to save Mumbai Rivers.[52]

In 2019, Sonu started the year with releasing two relegious singles, "Shiv Shankara" & "Bam Bhole Bam". On the occasion of Friendship day, he releases his new single "Kahan Kho Gaye Wo Yaar" featuring Sonu himself. By the end of year, Sonu releases his new English song "Fire In The Sky" with Polish singer and actress Natalia Lesz. The song was critically acclaimed and liked my mass. Sonu also landed his voice in Narendra Modi's web series Modi: Journey of a Common Man for song "Shyam Ke Rogan Lele". Sonu also sang a patriotic number "Vande Matram" for Romeo Akbar Walter. He featured in song "Ishq Ki Gal" with Miss Pooja for movie 'S.P. Chauhan'. His song "Marham" from movie 'S.P. Chauhan' became popular.

Work in KannadaEdit

 
Nigam performing at the live concert in 2014

Nigam's first song in Kannada was in 1996 for the film Jeevanadhi. The song "Yello Yaro Hego" was composed by Saluri Koteswara Rao with lyrics by R. N. Jayagopal. Nigam has since sung over 600 Kannada songs.[53][54][55][56]

His songs include "Cheluve Yeke Bande", from the film Majnu, composed by Gurukiran; "Titanic Heroine Nee Nanna Cheluve", from the film Snehaloka; the title track from the film Monalisa composed by Valisha Sandeep;[57] "Hamsave Hamsave" from the film Gatti Mela, composed by Hamsalekha, "Kannale Kannale" from the film Aham Premasmi, composed by V.Ravichandran[58] and "Baaninda Baa Chandira, from the movie Kanti, composed by Gurukiran. The 2006 film Mungaru Male created a sensation and spawned several records, mainly in Karnataka.[59][60]

The songs "Mungaru Maleye" and "Anisuthide" were composed by Mano Murthy and written by Yogaraj Bhat and Jayant Kaikini respectively. Nigam has said that he finds Kannada songs more fulfilling than the Hindi numbers.[61] In an interview with Deccan Herald he said "Kannada songs make me feel positive".[62] He went on to say: "I highly respect the musicians of Karnataka and many of my favourite songs are in Kannada. I consider Bangalore as my second birthplace. Even if someone requests me to sing a Kannada song while I'm performing in the West Indies, I will sing it for them".[53]

 
Sonu Nigaam during a Peace Rally in Mumbai on 20 November 2011

From the same Mungaru Male combination, composer Murthy, lyricist Kaikini and Nigam got together to record the Kannada album Neene Bari Neene, produced by Ashok Kheny. Videos for the songs "Neene Bari Neene" and "Baa Nodu Gelathi" were shot on the outskirts of Bangalore featuring Nigam and model Madhuri Bhattacharya in the lead.[63][64] Nigam also composed a theme song for the Karnataka Bulldozers team in the Celebrity Cricket League and sang it with Kunal Ganjawala and Sowmya Raoh, who also penned the lyrics.[65]

As a host and judgeEdit

Nigam was the host of the Sa Re Ga Ma music show from 1995 until 1999 and became household name.[66] He returned on Sa Re Ga Ma Pa L'il Champs International as a judge with Suresh Wadkar in October 2007. Nigam was a celebrity judge on the Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Mega Challenge grand finale on 12 December 2009 .

Nigam hosted the TV show Kisme Kitna Hai Dum on Star Plus in 2002. He appeared as the judge on Indian Idol in seasons 1 (October 2004 – March 2005) and 2 (November 2005 – April 2006), and was a celebrity judge in seasons 3 (17 August 2007) and 4 (16 January 2009 and 6 February 2009).[citation needed]

In 2006, Nigam hosted Life Ki Dhun with Sonu Nigaam on Radiocity 91.1 FM, interviewing musicians.[67]

He appeared as a celebrity judge on STAR Voice of India in August 2007 (Season 1) and in December 2008 (Season 2), and on the grand finale of music reality show Jo Jeeta Wohi Super Star on 12 July 2008.

Nigam was a judge/mentor on Chhote Ustaad – Do Deshon Ki Ek Awaaz (July – October 2010) with Rahat Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and was a judge/mentor on the first season of X Factor (India) (29 May – 2 September 2011) along with Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Shreya Ghoshal.[66]

On 23 August 2015, he appeared on "The Anupam Kher Show" sharing his life experiences. He has been also one of the three judges of Indian Idol 2016–17.

Sonu has also hosted 3rd Mirchi Music Awards,[68] 6th Mirchi Music Awards,[69] 8th Mirchi Music Awards,[70] 9th Mirchi Music Awards,[71] 10th Mirchi Music Awards,[72] 11th Mirchi Music Awards,[73] 13th Mirchi Music Awards[74] till date.

Singing styleEdit

Sonu is one of the most popular playback singers in Bollywood,[75][76][77] and is widely considered to have inspired new singers in the Bollywood industry. He is often compared to Mohammad Rafi for similar voice texture.[78][79][80][81] Among the old generation of singers, Lata Mangeshkar considers him a good singer.[82] Suresh Wadkar considers Sonu as the Kohinoor Diamond of industry and feels today no one is even close to him.

Singer Armaan Malik takes a lot of inspiration from him.[83] Singer and musician Ankit Tiwari cites Sonu Nigam as one of his musical inspirations.[84] Shreya Ghoshal considers Sonu as her favourite contemporary singer and admires him a lot. Palash Sen of Euphoria (Indian band) considered Sonu Nigam as the most talanted singer in Bollywood Industry. Music director Mithoon thinks that Sonu Nigam is one of the most technically sound singers our country has ever produced. Jonita Gandhi considers Sonu as her inspiration and consider him as one of the greatest Live Performer. Composer Pritam says Sonu is the epitome of perfection and is the most complete singer in film industry today and feels he has the best grasping power when it comes to understanding a song.

Awards and honoursEdit

 
Nigam (right) receiving the National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer from President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam (left), 2005.

Sonu Nigam is the winner of several awards including 1 National Award, 2 Filmfare Awards in Hindi & 2 Filmfare Awards South. He has received 16 nominations for Filmfare best playback singer, and record winner of 4 times for IFAA Award for Best Male playback singer

DiscographyEdit

As a music directorEdit

Year Film
2013 Sooper Se Ooper
2014 Jal
2013 Singh Saab The Great
2017 Half Widow

FilmographyEdit

Year Title Role Notes
2002 Jaani Dushman: Ek Anokhi Kahani Vivek Saxena
2003 Kash Aap Hamare Hote Jai Kumar
2004 Love in Nepal Abby
2005 Navra Maza Navsacha Guest appearance in a song
2013 Warning Guest appearance in the song "Takeedein"
2016 Raakh (2016 film) Guest appearance in song 'Bas Itna Hai Kahena'
2019 Spotless Lead Role Short film[97]

Dubbing workEdit

Film title Original Voice Character Dub Language Original Language Original Release Dub Release Notes
Aladdin[98] Scott Weinger
(Speaking)
Brad Kane (Singing)
Aladdin
(Speaking and Singing)
Hindi English 1992 1994 Dubbed by Modi Entertainment

.[99]

ControversiesEdit

His series of tweets branding 'Azaan' (Muslim call for prayer), temple, gurudwara, and other religious places using loudspeakers to disturb the people who don't follow the religion as "forced religiousness" landed him in a controversy as a member of a religious group (in particular against Azaan) took offence at the matter and the manner in which he voiced his concern.[100] In his later tweet he stated that he stand by his statement.[101] He later clarified that he is not against any specific religious ritual, but against the use of loudspeakers on religious buildings. He clarified that the use of loudspeaker to create noise pollution should be stopped beyond certain time as per the law of the land, irrespective of whether it is from a temple, mosque, gurudwara, or any other places.[102] Later, Nigam again sparked controversy, when he posted a video of Azaan from his home which proved that he was indeed disturbed very early in the morning.[103] Syed Sha Atef Ali Al Quaderi, vice-president of West Bengal United Minority Council announced a reward of ₹10 Lakh to anyone who shaved Nigam's head, to which Sonu Nigam responded by shaving his own head to claim the reward.[104]

Nigam deleted his Twitter account on 24 May 2017, citing a lack of respect for freedom of speech.[105]

In June 2020, after the demise of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, Sonu Nigam posted a video saying that the music industry is also monopolized by two major companies and that he had also faced similar discrimination. He urged these music companies to be fair and kind to the newcomers in the music industry. Although he stopped short of naming anyone he made it clear that the malpractices in Bollywood are terrible and are almost killing the music talent of the country.[106] Nigam uploaded another video to say that after his previous video, the Music Mafia has gotten together about six geniuses against him and sent a press release to the Times of India. Sonu Nigam maintained that he didn't name anyone and was only putting up his point of view regarding the malpractices in the music industry of Bollywood. In his second video Nigam names Bhushan Kumar, CEO of T-Series and tells him to stay away from him.[107]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit