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Sonu Nigam – The Journey of a Voice
Hong Kong is all set to welcome one of India’s most popular singers, Sonu Nigam, on October 1st. From the emotional ‘Sandese aate hain’ in ‘Border’ to the title songs of ‘Kal Ho Naa Ho’ and ‘Kabhi Alvidaa Na Kehna’, this versatile singer with over two decades of experience in the music industry has many hits to his credit.
Sonu Nigam was born on 30th July 1973 to Agam Kumar Nigam and Shobha Nigam at Faridabad, Hariyana. Being the son of a popular singer who used to perform in many stage shows, he got his first chance to perform before an audience at the tender age of three years when he accompanied his father onstage to sing Mohammed Rafi’s ‘Kya Hua Tera Wada’. Thereafter, little Sonu Nigam became a regular fixture at many of his father’s stage shows. At the same time, he also started working as a child actor in movies such as ‘Pyaara Dushman’, ‘Hum Se Hai Zamaana’ and ‘Betaab’.
From stage shows and movies, he went on to take part in several music competitions during his teenage years and won several of them. At the age of 18, he moved to Mumbai with his father to try his luck in Bollywood. The initial years proved to be difficult and he had to make do with singing covers for albums, including the ‘Rafi Ki Yaadein’ series. This may have played a part in earning Sonu Nigam the tag of being a ‘Rafi clone’ which he later shook off with songs such as ‘Yeh Dil’ from ‘Pardes’. But his first hit in the Bollywood music industry was ‘Accha Sila Diya Tune’ from the movie ‘Bewafa Sanam’ in 1995.
Though he was fast emerging as one of the most talented singers in Bollywood, it was a musical show ‘Sa Re Ga Ma’ aired on Zee TV in the same period that made Sonu Nigam a household name and gave the Indian public a chance to meet the man behind the golden voice.
When the multi-starrer ‘Border’ was released in 1997, I doubt if there was a single dry-eyed member in the audience after listening to one of his biggest hits of all time ‘Sandese aate hain’.
In 2004, he won the National Award for Best Male Playback Singer for his soulful rendition of ‘Kal Ho Naa Ho’. Though he has sung many songs for various actors in the industry, the Shah Rukh Khan – Sonu Nigam combo proved to be popular each time as evidenced by the number of hits these two talents managed to churn out, including ‘Suraj Hua Maddham’ from ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham’, ‘Do Pal’ from ‘Veer Zaara’, ‘Main Hoon Naa’, ‘Kabhi Alvidaa Na Kehna’ and ‘MainAgar Kahoon’ from ‘Om Shanti Om’.
In 2006, he ventured into radio jockeying for RadioCity 91.1 FM and hosted a very popular show called ‘Life Ki Dhun’ which had many devoted listeners tuning in every week to listen to his thoughts and interviews with other celebrities.
Sonu Nigam also tried his hand at acting during this time and appeared in three movies ‘Love in Nepal’, ‘Jaani Dushman’ and ‘Kaash Aap Hamare Hote’. He has also sung for movies in numerous other languages, including Kannada, Bengali, Marathi, Telugu and Malayalam.
In a rare gesture to Asian artistes, Sonu Nigam was invited to perform at the inaugural ceremony of Harvard University’s 28th President Dr. Drew Gilpin Faust in 2007, where he enthralled the audience with Mahatma Gandhi’s favorite bhajan ‘Vaishnav Jan To Tene Kahiye’.
This multi-talented artiste is also famous for his mimicry of other famous personalities. His good-natured impersonations of fellow singers Udit Narayan, Kailash Kher and even Usha Uthup have won him many fans.
In a recent interview published on BollywoodLife, he talked about the unfair nature of the industry where singers and musicians are not given due importance and the media which chooses to focus only on actors while ignoring singers.
Lately, Sonu Nigam has cut down on his playback singing preferring to spend time with his family and pursue other interests while performing more concerts and stage shows. He lost his mother, whom he used to call his queen and his strongest ally, to stage 4 liver cancer in March this year.
Sonu Nigam is married to Madhurima and has a son, Nevaan who sometimes joins him on stage to perform.