More in the news for his changing head of hair than a Hindi film track, Sonu Nigam says most Hindi film songs are being rendered by the composer himself
You are hardly singing for films and focussing on shows instead.
Yes, because I don't get good songs to sing. The good ones are rendered by the composer himself, or are given to other singers. I don't want to sing for B or C grade films any longer. I respect my voice enough not to grab every playback singing offer.
Are you upset?
I will continue to sing for shows, television, films and at award functions. I don't hold grudges against people who don't engage me. Finally, it's business, and they are taking care of their business in the way they deem fit.
Are you suggesting that playback singing is not essential to survive as a singer?
Playback singing is shaapit (cursed). At a award function, Shah Rukh Khan said, "I owe 60 per cent of my success to singers who have sung for me." I appreciate that because it's rare for a playback singer's contribution to be so liberally acknowledged.
I don't like the phrase 'playback singing', the way Mr Bachchan doesn't like 'Bollywood'. What do you mean by playback? Why does every singer have to do playback? Playback singing is only one genre. You could be doing classical, semi-classical, ghazals... What's important is to be a good singer.
Is there a market here for private albums?
Yes, but album sales have dipped. Their place has been usurped by performances and music reality shows. That's why the world's biggest singing talent show on TV, X factor, has come to India. In the absence of such shows, a singer wouldn't want to be a singer today. Few singers actually get the chance to sing in films. With the help of digital equipment, anybody can become a singer in the industry. These shows have opened new avenues for singers to survive.
What albums are you working on?
One is for Greg Ellis and the famous tabla player Bikram Ghosh. It has songs in nine matraas, which is a rare feat. The other album, with guitarist Gaurav Diji who composed the music for Knock Out, will have contemporary music.
What about your album with Lata Mangeshkar, featuring a song by your son, Nevaan?
Sarhadein will be released in a month. Lataji suggested my son's name. I was in America when I got a call saying she had asked them to check if my son would sing. Before his third birthday, he had recorded the song. It just happened.
Your hairstyle has been a subject of debate.
It's inadvertent. When I was in America in 2009, I allowed my hair to grow and acquired this look. Now I have developed a new respect for women. I know how difficult it is to maintain long hair.
It's given you the aura of a pop star, but there's no concept of a pop sensation in India.
Zahir Hussain has long, unkempt hair. Nobody argued with him. Singers are crazy, and it's high time Indians accept us as we are.
Bollywood News Service