Sonu Nigam, who has belted out countless popular numbers in his silky and sonorous voice, speaks to Rohan Dua, the executive editor of The New Indian, and expresses his sense of loss over the death of some of the artists who passed away this year and his respect for ‘disciplinarian’ Yogi Adityanath. Last part of the interview…
Rohan Dua: Is there any fixed fitness or diet regimen that you have been following since your childhood till now? Are you a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian?
Sonu Nigam: I eat everything. I don’t have any (health) problems. And sometimes, I turn vegetarian, but since I travel too much, I don’t get the diet of my choice.
I never had any party till the age of 35. No one came to my home and we didn’t visit anybody’s house. We started socializing when my son took birth. I never went out because my father has told me something: Ya to tu abhi aish/maze kar aur baad me dhakke khana ya abhi dhakke kahle baad me aish karna (either you party now and slog later or slog now and party later)…so, I followed it. I never socialized and focused on singing. I don’t have many friends but the ones I have are very close to me. But work is primary, I never compromise with my work. Work should be the purpose of life.
Rohan Dua: I also want to talk to you about your contemporaries, as there was a time, when I saw a video of you and Shaan, which was tweeted by Anu Malik. It was very popular.
Sonu Nigam (interrupts): Yes. We did an ad together.
Rohan Dua: There was a time when we had contemporaries like Babul Supriyo, you, Shaan, KK. Who do you miss the most having worked with? How much do you miss those moments, especially when KK has passed away, and Babul Supriyo joined politics
Sonu Nigam: I was really saddened, because actually, I was not available for them when those I loved people – KK, Lata Bai, Bhupinder Singh ji, and Shivkumar Sharma ji — passed away. Lata Bai was like my mother, I lost a mother for the second time.
I was in Kolkata in the middle of a shoot, but by the time I could reach to see KK, he had passed away. When Lata ji died, even then I was in Australia, and I could not meet her. Bhupinder Singh ji left and I was not present during his last moments; then Shivkumar Sharma ji passed away, and by the time I could be there, his body was all set to be cremated. Maybe, I was not meant to attend the last rites of anybody.
Rohan Dua: In which films did you sing with Lata ji?
Sonu Nigam: Of course, I sung with Lata ji in Veer Zaara and Mujhse Dosti Karoge.
Rohan Dua: Dil Se?
Sonu Nigam: Dil Se, no…it was solo for both Lata ji and me, but we have worked together enough; Lata ji has left us, but she will always be with us.
Rohan Dua: When I was young, I loved your albums Dewaana and Bijuriya song.
Sonu Nigam: I will sing for you Dewaana (Sings… Ab mujhe raat din tumhara hi khayal hain, kya kahu pyaar mein deewano jaisa haal hai)
Rohan Dua: Wow, how fine it is! Saathiyan movie also came up at that time. Its songs were popular too — Madham Madham, and those words were used in many other movies, like in Suraj Hua Madham; and at that age, those songs created a stabilised image of you, and romantic songs started pouring out of you. Can you sing us a song from that era?
Sonu Nigam: Sings Saathiya hmmm..Saathiya hmmm..Maddham maddham teri geeli hansi…Saathiya hmmm..Saathiya hmmm..Sunke humne saari pee li hansi…
Rohan Dua: A lot of the Border Security Force (BSF) personnel and people guarding the border, in this 75th year of Independence, have looked up to your singing; while living their life away from their families. What do you feel these days about the songs that you sang? What message do they deliver to the jawans or to those, who are guarding the border, along LOC; I remember the places that I have been to, the many years that I did coverage for BSF ceremonies, or BSF jawans, and your songs were played at the ceremonies. How proud and emotional do you feel having sung those songs? What do those songs mean to you? What message do you want to give in India’s 75 th year of Independence?
Sonu Nigam: It is a matter of chance and no one can ever plan it. If I had not been a singer, then would I have been in such a profession, where aggression was involved. But I love my job obviously. I am a passionate India lover. When you love India truly, you love the world. You cannot love India without loving the rest of the world. Believe that when I say that I am lucky that we love our country; our message is love for all. It was in our destiny to listen to and get such songs, and touch people even today. Some songs got bigger than they were before. Sandeshe Aate Hain..or Rang De Basanti Chola which I sang, and Sarfoarshi Ki Tammanna. I am about to release a song for a film; you will know how to hit that song will get. I won’t tell you the concept of the song. Mission Majnu is the film.
Rohan Dua: Is it also a patriotic number?
Sonu Nigam: Yes, it is being composed and produced in such a way. I will sing it soon, either on October 4 or 5.
Rohan Dua: In Mumbai?
Sonu Nigam: While talking to you, I remembered that I have another song on the way, and it is written so beautifully, that you will love it. It’s written by Manoj Muntashi, and Rochak Kohli composed it. It is a beautiful song. This song will be loved tremendously by people.
Rohan Dua: So many film stars like Hema Malini ji, Sunny Deol ji, Vinod Khanna Sahab joined politics after acting. Would you like to work with any political party of India of your choice? Would you like to serve the nation in your capacity as a Member of Parliament, or as a legislator?
Sonu Nigam: I used to think in 1990s, that in the future, I would join politics, and my mind at that time knew I had the acumen and to handle to be strong, I knew it. But I am leading too beautiful a life right now; to plunge into politics…not now?
Rohan Dua: What if there was an offer from a political party?
Sonu Nigam: This can never happen now.
Rohan Dua: Why?
Sonu Nigam: Because the state that I am in is a spiritually different state, and I have to enter into worldly life to join politics. I am not saying that someone is lower than me or I am someone higher; the place where I am where the water is filled to the brim; it is calm water…it is steady.
Rohan Dua: Are there any political leaders apart from Hon’ble PM Modi ji, chief ministers who have really influenced you?
Sonu Nigam: I have told you before, it is not wise to single out one or select one. I believe that a political leader should be strict, if you want India to be disciplined. India is full of talent, but our limitation is that we degrade our own nation, and we spit on our roads, we break traffic signals.
When we go abroad, we don’t break rules. In India, we don’t follow Zebra Crossing. When we are in some other country, we stop our cars at Zebra Crossing. That’s why I feel that discipline needs to be there, and till now what I have seen is that Yogi Adityanath ji (UP Chief Minister) is a disciplinarian. Whether from Bharatiya Janata Party, Aam Aadmi Party, or Congress, leaders need to be strict.
Rohan Dua: You find these qualities admirable in him. Did you have any opportunity to meet him in flesh and blood?
Sonu Nigam: I have met him twice.
Rohan Dua: So what were those moments like between you and Yogi Adityanath?
Sonu Nigam: See, we are all mature people and we were occupied with our own work. He is busy and I am committed to my work as well. There is a lot of mutual respect and hope God bless us our nation with great people and leaders who love the nation. They can be from any party.
Rohan Dua: People still find it unbelievable that a priest who still is a mahanta of a temple can be a CM of a state.
Sonu Nigam: See this is a wrong perception. What’s wrong if he wears clothes like that; we should be concerned about the work that someone has done. It is better that spiritually wise and sane people come up as leaders– those who have done Yoga and meditation, rather than someone who is a gunda. Because there will be a strictness in his policies and functioning.
Rohan Dua: I would finish this interview by congratulating you for the wonderful career that you had so far. It has been a pleasure meeting you. I hope you continue being an icon for all of us for years and decades to come.
Sonu Nigam: Thank you, appreciate that.