“Morning shows the day.” This is how one can describe about the Bollywood singer Sunidhi Chauhan, who started her career at the tender age of 4 years and went on to become a sensation among the music lovers. Winner of the first ever televised music contest, “Meri Aawaz Suno” on Doordarshan channel in 1996, Sunidhi is now one of the most versatile female playback singers, reminiscing the colourful era of evergreen versatile Asha Bhosle. Her life is often observed as that of a princess locked in the pages of a fairy tale. Shot to renown with the song Ruki ruki si zindagi… under Ram Gopal Verma’s film ‘Mast’ in 2001, she never looked back and surged on and on to become the playback voice of almost every heroine came and gone in the last ten years. Recipient of plentiful prestigious awards, she is not illustrious in Bollywood only but also in Kollywood and Tollywood, and sings songs in Hindi, English, Tamil, Telugu and Gujarati with consummate ease. The star singer in a conversation…
Q: How did singing happen to you? Is it inborn or inherited from your family environment?
Sunidhi Chauhan: I think I was born to be a singer that indeed is a blessing in me. But without struggle achieving a high is almost impossible and I hail this to my family, who also happens to be my mentor. I would not have been what I am today without their incessant efforts and sacrifices. Though music happened to me naturally minus any formal training, it is my parents who identified my exceptional aptitude and paved a way for me to pursue a career in it since I was merely four (year-old). Professedly promoting me to different competitive dos during my school days, my parents injected a stimulus music worm in me to sharpen my singing proficiency without having any music background at my family front. We were merely good listeners.
Q: Then? Brief some more about your life.
Sunidhi Chauhan: One fine day, during a competition, Tabassum, a TV host spotted my skill and expressed her desire to uplift my career through her troupe. Tabassumji, later, adivised my parents to shift to Mumbai from Delhi to further my career. Subsequently, our family did the same. My dad even left behind his own career in theatre despite being quite well off for the sake of mine. Later, Tabassumji introduced me to composer Kalyanji (half of Kalyanji-Anandji duo), who honed my skills via his show, “Little Wonders” when I was only 8. Then came the first ever musical contest “Meri Aawaz Suno” on the DD National in 1996, where I bagged the “Lata Mangeshkar Trophy” for the best female singer of India. However, it was only thereafter my real struggle began despite receiving a national recognition and even cutting a solo album with the HMV, “Aira Gaira Nathu Khaira” that didn’t click big as per expectations. Realizing my limitation I got a formal training in classical singing from Gautam Mukherjee. Hence after a brief lull despite giving forgettable playback for some movies, I got an overnight fame with the songs of movie “Mast” including its title track and Ruki ruki si…. And now, the rest is history.
Q: So whom would you owe your accomplishment to?
Sunidhi Chauhan: To all the persons who helped me in shaping my career. My parents, undoubtedly, top the chart along with Sonu Nigamji, who acted as a catalyst to fuel my career. As I said, my parents have gone that extra mile to help me scale this high. Sacrificing his own thriving profession my dad moved to Mumbai for me only. It is actually he, who struggled on my behalf doing rounds of composers to get me work. On the other hand, Sonuji introduced me to Sandeep Chowta for “Mast” that proved to be my ultimate breakthrough. He was very optimistic and stimulating in getting my talent recognized. His impulsive attitude helped me tidy up my expertise.
Q: Do you believe in God?
Sunidhi Chauhan: Yes. I am deeply religious. God is my instinct, my guiding force and my saviour, who shows me a way at the intricate crossroad. I believe faith in the God makes a lot of difference in life. Once I had to sing a high pitch number for “Mast” and my throat was infected. It was my faith in divine power and my ability that bailed me out to record successfully. Whatever I’ve achieved, God is there.
Q: Now that you are perhaps the most versatile singer in today’s Bollywood, how does it feel when your versatility is compared with the legendary versatile Asha Bhosle?
Sunidhi Chauhan: I feel proud when one talks about today’s singers. But, it is very early to draw any parallel with Ashaji. She is in herself a singing institution, whereas, I am like a student to her. I’ve a very long way to go, which seems impossible. Ashaji has been constant throughout many decades, while I’ve come across the lean and thin phases. Moreover, I don’t want to be labeled as the next Asha Bhosle but to remain with my own name, only Sunidhi.
Q: Do you feel any competition with others of your age group?
Sunidhi Chauhan: Competition is always there in the Bollywood but I don’t think there is any competition for me. There are incredible voices in the industry today but what is more important for singer is to carve ones respective niche. Like Lataji and Ashaji, Alka Yagnik and Kavita Krishnamurty crafted their own respective domains over two decades back and still on. Similarly, I am contented to have my own area in the current music world. Likewise, Shreya Ghoshal has her own. I personally respect Shreya for her talents and nice songs, whom people consider as a threat to me.
Q: Having camera-friendly face and figure, you rock on stage as well. So how do you strike a chord between playback singing and performing on dais?
Sunidhi Chauhan: See, it’s up to one’s interest and passion. I feel comfortable at both the levels, playback as well as live-on-stage. I try to give my best shot at both the spheres so that audience could get connected with me. When I am in the studio, a lot of factors depend on the mood of composer. Whereas on stage, I just can’t control myself on given beats. I feel like a free bee. My energy level robotically dances up and down with the beats.
Q: Tell us about any inspirations that set your pulse racing?
Sunidhi Chauhan: Lataji’s evergreen soothing voice and Ashaji’s energetic versatility even at this age. I’ve learnt a lot from them. Whenever I listen to their songs, I keep adopting different styles emanating out with music.