She is a powerhouse of talent. A singer with a voice so versatile that she’s sung for everyone from Kareena Kapoor to Rekha. Injecting energy and spirit into her music, she turns even ordinary songs into chartbusters.
She made her first big splash with song Ruki Ruki Si Zindagi from the movie Mast and hasn't looked back since then. She is the very gifted Sunidhi Chauhan.
Rajeev Masand: Sunidhi, welcome to the show and thank you so much for joining us today.
Sunidhi Chauhan: Thank you.
Rajeev Masand: With your hit song from the film Race, the New Year started off with a bang for you, didn't it? It's a song that has been filmed on not one but three very hot actresses. You've given some of the top Bollywood actresses some of their sexiest songs. Do they ever come to you to thank you for making them sound so sexy on screen?
Sunidhi Chauhan: They are all very sweet but hardly any of them come and say thank you. However, whenever Lara Dutta meets me she says, "You know I still perform on Jadoo Daala Re and it so well sung." So you know there are very few people but it is okay. It is not their fault because sometimes they don’t even know who sang the song. Most of the time while recording even we aren’t aware of who the song will be picturised on.
Rajeev Masand: Sunidhi, 2007 was an interesting year for you. You sang for Madhuri Dixit’s comeback film Aaja Nachle. You also gave us one of the most popular songs of 2007 – Sajna Di Vari Vari from Honeymoon Travels. Yet when it came to awards, most of them went to your rival, you contemporary Shreya Ghosal for her song in Guru. Any hard feelings?
Sunidhi Chauhan: Not at all. I am happy to have a nomination, and I had two of them in all the awards. That’s enough for me. My award is when I perform on stage, when people see me, they buy tickets and come, and have a blast. And I’m not being filmi about it. I’m telling you the truth. Yes, awards are important. They give you a boost to work better, but if they don’t come around then it’s okay. At least my name was announced twice. I got the award the year before that so there has to be a break.
Rajeev Masand: You're only 24 and you've been professionally singing for nine years now. What do you think is it about your voice that makes you such a popular singer with composers at a time when there are new singers coming and going every week, and especially when all these reality shows are giving us new singers every other day?
Sunidhi Chauhan: I think the composers or my audience will know better what's different about me. But yes, I do work hard a lot. I try to sound different each time. I want to make the most out of the song that I get. I don't just let it go because I have sung so many songs. Obviously I have a nice throw in my voice. About three-four years ago, I realised that I can sing soft numbers. Composers love that fact and the approach me for songs like Fanaa, Chameli - Behta Hai Man Kahin, Sur, etc. About four-five years ago, I used to sing only item songs but after Chameli it all changed. Now I'm singing 80 per cent of romantic songs and hardly any item numbers.
Rajeev Masand: Your singing style has some very strong western influences. In fact you have often said that some of the singers you grew up listening to where Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. What were the songs you used to sing in the bathroom while growing up?
Sunidhi Chauhan: To be frank I was never a bathroom singer. I never got a chance to. I have been singing professionally from the age of four. I started doing shows when I was four. I started singing English songs after I turned 11. That was when I had just shifted to Bombay. I used to listen to Always Be My Baby from the album Day Dream by Mariah Carey. That was my favourite song. I grew up singing that song.
Rajeev Masand: Was Bollywood always a very welcoming place? You started pretty young. Did you find lots of egos and lots of people being difficult?
Sunidhi Chauhan: I was very young at that time. I was 11-12.However, my dad had to struggle for me. He left his career and everything and we moved to Bombay. It was him who used to meet people and take all the s*** that they gave. My job was just to go along with him, sing and come back. "Beta, wahan ja ke gao. Haan abhi chup ho jao (Go there and sing. Okay, now that's it)." Like a tape recorder. Thanks to my dad. I am what I am today because of him.
Rajeev Masand: Let's take a few questions from the audience. Vishal wants to know what do you do to maintain your voice?
Sunidhi Chauhan: Have lots of ice-cream, achaar (pickle)...that's what works for me. No, but seriously, I am not so hardcore. If I have a bad throat, I won't go and eat anything that I want to but if I'm okay I'll eat everything. I enjoy my life and I think that is what you should do.
Rajeev Masand: Alok wants to ask that of all the songs you have sung till now, which is your favourite?
Sunidhi Chauhan: My favourite song is from the film My Brother Nikhil. It is called Le Chale.
Rajeev Masand: Lata Mangeshkar has always said that Sunidhi is one of the finest young singers...
Sunidhi Chauhan: That makes me feel so good.
Rajeev Masand: You were also discovered as an artist on a show that she was involved with. The show was called Meri Awaaz Suno.
Sunidhi Chauhan: About 12 years ago, I was in this competition. I participated because I wanted to see Lataji once. I wanted to touch her. So I took a chance hoping that if I win, I'll get to see her very close. And it happened. She announced my name and she wiped my tears. I was crying. I couldn't believe that I was standing in front of her. My dream had come true. It was the most memorable moment of my life.
Rajeev Masand: Sunidhi, this is the Rapid Fire round. This is the one where I ask you a couple of quick questions and you give me some quick answers. We don’t give you lots of time to think about them and we expect some clever answers. So the first question: which is the song that you least expected to become a hit?
Sunidhi Chauhan: Dhoom Machale.
Rajeev Masand: Seriously?
Sunidhi Chauhan: When I sang it, it was the most ordinary song. Even Pritam thinks the same way. We thought it was a nice song but it became such a huge hit. We never expected that.
Rajeev Masand: The one song whose picturisation you were embarrassed by?
Sunidhi Chauhan: Oh this is a difficult one. Aag!
Rajeev Masand: The one composer you don't want to left alone in a music room with?
Sunidhi Chauhan: Uh, okay. Anu Malikji because he is so innovative. It takes him no time to compose a song. So if we sit together, he will come up with something or the other new.
Rajeev Masand: Himesh Reshammiya — genius or delusional?
Sunidhi Chauhan: He is somewhere in between.
Rajeev Masand: Your favourite between Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle?
Sunidhi Chauhan: Lataji, Lataji…
Rajeev Masand: The strangest rumour you’ve heard about yourself?
Sunidhi Chauhan: That I’m going around with Anu Malik. It was everywhere. It made me laugh. I mean he's like my father's age man. Link me with some good-looking guys for God sake!
Rajeev Masand: The most overrated singer is?
Sunidhi Chauhan: Atif Aslam. I know there are many fans of Atif Aslam but I think he can't sing. Sorry.
Rajeev Masand: The one song of yours that you can't bear to listen to?
Sunidhi Chauhan: Woh Raat Kati, Woh Din Nikla from Paheli. I didn't sing it well.
Rajeev Masand: Well, you did quite well in the Rapid Fire round. You were quite honest. Now Fatima from our audience wants to know what would you have been if you were not a singer?
Sunidhi Chauhan: A singer again. Maybe a very small singer like somewhere in a train or somewhere, but I still would have been a singer.
Rajeev Masand: And Raheem wishes to know your opinion about the music reality shows?
Sunidhi Chauhan: No opinion. In fact there's hardly any reality in them.
Rajeev Masand: We can't go away without talking about your song Yeh Mera Dil from Don, the cover version of the original song. You sang it really well, however, you were very humble when you said that original is the original and that Asha Bhosle's version is better. In fact she wasn't terribly pleased that a cover version was being made.
Sunidhi Chauhan: The idea was to have fun. We're doing the remake of Don and it has to be the way it used to be before, but in a little more stylised way. I mean it should sound new and current. I was not trying to be one up with anyone. That's why I didn't sing it like the original version. The song was to be picturised in a closed room. It had to be sensuous so it was sung very softly. So there was no question of comparison. I’m glad that it still worked.
Rajeev Masand: Sunidhi, thank you so much for joining us today. Thank you so much for entertaining us. We will hope that you will always continue to entertain us like you always have.
Sunidhi Chauhan: Thank you.