Sonu Nigam

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Sonu Nigam
Sonu Nigam at Zee Cine Awards, 2013
Sonu Nigam at Zee Cine Awards, 2013
Background information
Born (1973-07-30) 30 July 1973 (age 47)[1]
Faridabad, Haryana, India[1]
Genres
Occupation(s)
Years active1992 - present
LabelsSony Music, T-Series, Tips, Saregama, I Believe Music

Sonu Nigam (born 30 July 1973)[2] is an Indian singer and composer.[3] He sings predominantly in Hindi and Kannada language films but has also sung in Bengali, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Nepali, Malayalam, Tulu and other Indian languages.[4] Nigam has also released numbers of Indian pop albums and acted in a number of Hindi films.[5]

Life and background[edit]

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.[6] His father was from Agra and his mother was from Garhwal.[7] His sister Teesha Nigam is also a professional singer.[8]

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".[9][10] 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 26.[11] He was trained by Hindustani classical singer Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan.[12]

He married Madhurima Mishra on 15 February 2002.[13] They have a son named Nevaan.[14]

Nigam had changed his name to Sonu Niigaam citing numerology beliefs, but later decided to go back to his birth name.[15]

Singing and composing work[edit]

Sonu Nigam121.jpg

He has recorded Romantic, Rock, Sad, Devotional, Ghazal and Patriotic songs. He has sung in: Hindi, Bengali, English, Gujarati, Kannada, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Tamil and Telugu till date.[4][11] 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. In September–October of the same year, he gave solo concerts titled Simply Sonu in Canada and Germany, the first Indian singer to do so.[16] In April 2008, he toured India promoting his Punjabi single "Punjabi Please".[17]


His first released song was "O Aasman Wale" from the movie Aaja Meri Jaan (1992). Sonu had also sung the title track of Aaja Meri Jaan, but it was dubbed by SP Balasubramaniam. He released his first album "Rafi Ki Yaadein" in 1992. After this, he sung in some movies, including Muqabla (1993), Veerta (1993) Meherban (1993), Shabnam (1993), Kasam Teri Kasam (1993), Aag (1994), Khuddar (1994), Hulchul (1994), Stuntman (1994), Ramjaane (1995), Gaddaar (1995), Jeet (1996) etc. Sonu Nigam was supposed to playback the song "Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh" from 1942: A Love Story and Sonu was the first choice of music director R. D. Burman for this song, but the song was eventually recorded by Kumar Sanu. 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,[11] 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, which took him out from his stereotyped image of singing. Nigam's album Deewana, with music directed by Sajid-Wajid, was released by T-Series in 1999 and is one of the most selling and celebrated albums till date.[11]

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 and many more.[citation needed]. 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.

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.[citation needed]

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.[18] In 2008, soon after releasing Classically Mild, he released a single Punjabi track entitled "Punjabi Please"[19] 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.

Sonu has always been loved and respected by the Bollywood industry. Among the new generation of singers, Lata Mangeshkar likes Sonu the most.[20] Shah Rukh Khan has been always seen heaping praises on Sonu whom he considers as an true artiste.[21][22] Shankar Mahadevan considers Sonu Nigam as his favourite singer in recent times.[23] Music director Himesh Reshammiya also believes that Sonu is the best singer in the industry.[24] Filmmaker Shirish Kunder is full of praises for Sonu.[25] Shekhar of Vishal-Shekhar duo considered him as the finest live performer. Even Shaan, who is one of his contemporaries, has admired him for a long time. Singing sensation Armaan Malik idolises Sonu Nigam as his God and Guru and draws a lot of inspiration from him.[26]

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.[27]

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.[28]

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.[29]

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.[30]

In 2011, Nigam collaborated with Britney Spears on a remix of her "I Wanna Go" track,[31][32] and with DJ Avicii on his song "Indian Levels", produced by Avicii in 2012.[33]

He was ranked the Number 1 artist on the US Billboard Uncharted charts twice in September and October 2013.[34][35]

In September 2015, Nigam recorded a song with the music director Khayyam for the upcoming project titled Gulam Bandhu.[36]

Work in Kannada[edit]

Sonu Nigam singing in the concert
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.[37][38][39][40]

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;[41] "Hamsave Hamsave" from the film Gatti Mela, composed by Hamsalekha, "Kannale Kannale" from the film Aham Premasmi, composed by V.Ravichandran[42] 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.[43][44]

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.[45] In an interview with Deccan Herald he said "Kannada songs make me feel positive".[46] 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".[37]

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.[47][48] 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.[49]

Work as a host and celebrity judge[edit]

Nigam was the host of the Sa Re Ga Ma music show from 1995 until 1999 and became household name.[50] 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.[51]

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.[50]

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.

Nigam's acting career[52] started as a child in films including Betaab (1983). As an adult, he acted in films such as Jaani Dushman: Ek Anokhi Kahani, Kash Aap Hamare Hote and Love in Nepal. He has been signed to be in Ankhon Ankhon Mein, about a blind singer.[53] Nigam provided the voice for the lead character, in the Hindi dubbed version of Aladdin.[54]

Singing style and legacy[edit]

Sonu is often considered to be one of the best playback singers in Bollywood of all time,[55][56][57] and is widely considered to have inspired new singers in the Bollywood industry. He is often compared to legendary singer Mohammad Rafi due to their similar voice and texture.[58][59][60][61] Among the old generation of singers, legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar considers him one of the very best, comparable to that of Kishore Kumar and Mohammad Rafi.[62]

Music director Himesh Reshammiya believes that Sonu is the best singer in the industry.[24] Shekhar of Vishal-Shekhar duo considered him as the finest live performer. Singer Armaan Malik idolises Sonu Nigam and takes a lot of inspiration from him.[63] Singer and musician Ankit Tiwari cites Sonu Nigam as one of his musical inspirations and considers him the best singer in India[64]

Actors Shah Rukh Khan has been seen heaping praises on Sonu whom he consider a true artist, who has lent his voice on many of his hit songs.[65][66] Shankar Mahadevan considers Sonu Nigam as his favourite singer in recent times.[67]

Awards and honours[edit]

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.

  • 2020 Bharat Ratna Dr. Ambedkar Award by Govt. of Maharashtra ( Presented by HE Shree Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Governor)
  • 2020 Naushad Sanman [68]
  • 2019 Magnificent Performing Arts Award at the 21st Century Icon Awards [69]
  • 2019 Singer Kumar Sanu Award
  • 2018 Lokmat Most Stylish Singer - Male [70]
  • 2018 7th TIIFA Award
  • 2018 Iconic Achiever's Award
  • 2018 Doctorate from Theerthanker Mahaveer University, Moradabad in recognition of his outstanding contribution in the field of music and inspiring youth to follow a path to success. [71]
  • 2017 Haryana Gaurav Samman by Haryana Government, Government of India[72]
  • 2017 Mirchi Music Awards for Indie Pop Song of the Year for "Aye Jahaan Aasmaan"
  • 2016 Lions Gold Award for Favorite Evergreen Singer jal best
  • 2015 Oscar 2015 nomination list "Jal" Sonu Nigam and Bickram Ghosh for their rustic compositions for the drama f ilm
  • 2015 Socialathon Person of the Year
  • 2014 Mirchi Music Awards South - Best Male Vocalist Kannada[73]
  • 2013 MTV Video and Music Award 2013 for Best Male Vocalist for Abhi Mujhme Kahin
  • 2013 Zee Cinema Award for Best Male Playback Singer for Abhi Mujhme Kahin from the film Agneepath
  • 2013 Big Star Entertainment Award for Best Male Playback Singer for Abhi Mujhme Kahin from the film Agneepath
  • 2012 Royal Stag Mirchi Music Award for Male Vocalist of The Year for the song "Abhi Mujhme Kahin" from the film Agneepath
  • 2012–2013 Filmfare Awards South – Nominated - Best Playback Singer Male for the song "Chendutiya Pakkadali" from the movie Drama.[74]
  • 2012 Lions Gold Award for Favorite Evergreen Singer
  • 2012 GIMA for Best Global Indian Collaboration – This Is It ft Jermaine Jackson
  • 2011 GIMA(Global Indian Music Award)for MTV Youth Icon.
  • 2011 Gitanjali WoW Award for Live Personality(Music).
  • 2010 – Global Indian Music Award for Best Live Performer (Male)[75]
  • 2010 GIMA(Global Indian Music Award) for Best Live Performer Male.
  • 2010 GIMA(Global Indian Music Award) for Most Popular Song – All Izz Well.
  • 2010 Amar Rishtey Award for Zee Icoon– TVS Sa Re Ga Ma.
  • 2010 Big Star Entertainment Award for Singer of the Decade.
  • 2009 Indian Television Academy Award, Best Male Singer for Dil Mill Gaye title track.
  • 2009 Filmfare Awards South, Kannada, Best Male Playback Singer for Yenagali from Mussanje Maathu
  • 2008 GPBA (German Public Bollywood Award), Best Singer (Male) for Main Agar Kahoon, Om Shanti Om.
  • 2008 Filmfare Awards South, Kannada, Best Male Playback Singer for Ninnindale from Milana.
  • 2008 Indian Television Academy Award, Best Male Singer for Amber Dhara title track
  • 2008 Lions Gold Award for the song 'In lamhon ke Daaman me' from the film 'Jodha Akbar'.
  • 2007 Annual Central European Bollywood Awards, Best Male Playback Singer for Mein Agar Kahoon, Om Shanti Om.
  • 2006 Bollywood Music and Fashion Awards, Best Male Playback Singer for Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, Title Track.
  • 2005 Indian Television Award Best Singer for Miliee Title Track.
  • 2005 MTV Immies – Best Pop Album, for his self-composed album titled "Chanda Ki Doli".
  • 2005 Swaralaya Yesudas Award, for his outstanding performance in Music.
  • 2005 Anadolok Award for "Chanda Ki Doli" album.
  • 2005 Lion Gold's Award for the song Main Hoon Na from the film "Main Hoon Na".
  • 2005 Star Screen Award Best Male Playback, for the song "Dheere Jalna", from the film "Paheli".
  • 2005 Teachers' Achievement Award
  • 2005 Style Icon, MTV Style Awards.
  • 2004 MTV Style Awards– Best Male Playback Singer – Bandhan[76]
  • 2004 MTV Immies – Best Male Singer, for the song "Main Hoon Na", from the film "Main Hoon Na".
  • 2004 Filmfare Award for Best Male Playback Singer, for the song "Kal Ho Naa Ho", from the film Kal Ho Naa Ho.
  • 2003 National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer: Kal Ho Na Ho for "Kal Ho Naa Ho"[77]
  • 2003 Apsara Film Producers' Guild Award for Best Male Playback Singer for "Kal Ho Na Ho" from the film Kal Ho Naa Ho.
  • 2003 Bollywood Music Award for Best Male Playback Singer for "Kal Ho Na Ho" from the film Kal Ho Naa Ho.
  • 2003 IIFA Best Male Playback Award, for the song "Kal Ho Naa Ho", from the film Kal Ho Na Ho
  • 2003 Style Icon, MTV Style Awards.
  • 2003 Filmfare Best Male Playback Award, for the song "Kal Ho Naa Ho", from the film Kal Ho Naa Ho".
  • 2002 Filmfare Best Male Playback Award, for the song "Saathiya", from the f ilm Saathiya.
  • 2002 Bollywood Music Award for Best Male Playback Singer for the song "Saathiya" from the film "Saathiya".
  • 2002 MTV Immies – Best Male Singer, for the song "Saathiya" from the film "Saathiya".
  • 2002 Zee Cine Award Best Playback Singer- Male, for the song "Saathiya", from the film "Saathiya".
  • 2002 IIFA Best Male Playback Award, for the song "Saathiya", from the film "Saathiya".
  • 2001 Star Screen Award Best Male Playback, for the song "Tanhayee", from the film "Dil Chahta Hai".
  • 2001 Bollywood Music Award for Best Pop Singer for the album "Yaad".
  • 2001 IIFA Best Male Playback Award, for the song "Suraj Hua Maddham", from the f ilm "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham".
  • 2001 Zee Cine Award Best Playback Singer[78]- Male, for the song "Suraj Hua Maddham", from the film "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham".
  • 1998 Screen Award for Best Male Pop Artist for Kismat[79]
  • 1997 Sansui Viewers' Choice Award for Best Male Singer for the song "Sandese Aate Hai", from the film "Border".
  • 1997 Aashirwad Award for Best Male Singer for the song "Sandese Aate Hai", from the film "Border".
  • 1997 Zee Cine Award Best Playback Singer- Male, for the song "Sandese Aate Hai", from the film "Border".

Filmography as composer[edit]

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

Discography[edit]

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1983 Betaab Young Sunny
1983 Hum Se Hai Zamana Young Shiva
1983 Taqdeer Young Shiva
1986 Krishna Krishna Sudhama
1985 Pyaara Dushman Manish Khadnya
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 as himself in a song sequence
2013 Warning Guest appearance as himself in "Takeedein" song sequence
2019 Spotless Lead Role Short film[80]

Dubbing roles[edit]

Nigam provided the voice for the lead character, in the Hindi dubbed version of Aladdin.[54]

Animated films[edit]

Film title Original Voice Character Dub Language Original Language Original Release Dub Release Notes
Aladdin[81] Scott Weinger
(Speaking)
Brad Kane (Singing)
Aladdin
(Speaking and Singing)
Hindi English 1992 1994 Gave both the Hindi Speaking and Singing voice to Aladdin in this film.
Dubbed by Modi Entertainment.[82]

Controversies[edit]

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 member of religious group (in particular against Azaan) took offence at the matter and the manner in which he voiced his concern.[83] In his later tweet he stated that he stand by his statement.[84] He later clarified that he is not against any specific religious ritual, but against the use of loudspeakers on religious buildings. He clarified that 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.[85] 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.[86] 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.[87]

Nigam deleted his Twitter account on 24 May 2017, citing a lack of respect for freedom of speech.[88]

In June 2020, after the demise of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, Sonu Nigam posted a video saying that music industry is also monopolized by 2 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 ran 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.[89] Sonu Nigam uploaded another video to say that after his previous video, the Music Mafia has gotten together about 6 geniuses against him and sent a press release to 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 Sonu names Bhushan kumar CEO, T-Series (Music Company) and tells him to stay away from him.[90]

Own labels[edit]

Nigam has launched[when?] his own music label named 'I believe music' and "Rudhrashtakam" is the first track to release under the label.[91]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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