Sukhwinder Singh: Consistent, humble and just a bit flirty
Entertaining a full house tour after tour, Shamshera singer Sukhwinder Singh on the qualities that earn him love
When he set off to Texas for a gig last month, Sukhwinder Singh did not expect to return home with a day dedicated to him. In an interview with mid-day, he discusses the creation of the Sukhwinder Singh Day in the city of Frisco on May 19, and his upcoming Bollywood offering, Ranbir Kapoor's Shamshera.
Can you describe the discussion you had with composer Mithun Sharma with regards to the song in Ranbir Kapoor's Shamshera?
The one thing that I loved about him and [director] Karan Malhotra is their method of working. The three of us would sit together in a room, and be part of jamming sessions. It is what we also call a mehfil. With music constantly playing in the background, we would come up with ideas, hymn a few tunes and lines, and accordingly decide what we wanted to create. Everything would be recorded, and we would be able to compose [better] songs. As musicians, we had heard stories of such sessions that would take place in the industry 60 years ago. Artistes involving RD Burman, Madan Mohan, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Lata Mangeshkar, among others, would sit together, and constantly ideate and create music. I am glad that I got to experience it. Those who are pressed for time cannot employ this method. It needs patience. If anyone gave me the chance to render even one line in such a scenario, I'd still love to be part of it.
You've stated that Frisco, Texas recently honoured you with recognition, declaring May 19 as Sukhwinder Singh Day. Can you discuss how that development came about?
There was a concert organised by the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin. They selected me for a concert, initially slated across nine cities. Governors and mayors of states were at the event, and they loved the performance. Even though I was to fly out to the next venue on the following day, they organised a gathering and felicitated me with the honour. In fact, citing the response to the first four shows, they extended the concerts to 16 cities. Usually, when artistes go overseas for a series of shows, a few of the gigs are inevitably cancelled. Sometimes [it may be because] the artiste is upset for some reason, or if the management falters. But, my shows were increased. That's because the way an artiste handles any situation, matters. I am humble, well behaved, consistent, and a bit flirty.
How do you imbibe the music culture of a place you head to when on tour?
Wherever I go, I always hire musicians from that area to perform with me on stage. Sometimes, I appoint singers too. We connect with them via art. I remember, once in Bangkok, I worked with five Chinese musicians on a show. We rehearsed for two days, and also had a press conference. On the day of the event, 60 per cent of the audience members were Chinese. And that's not because of the Chinese musicians only. These fans knew my song Chaiyya Chaiyya. Soon after, they created a toy in Bangkok. It was a train that moved in circles as Chaiyya Chaiyya played along. So, when you take your culture with you, and also imbibe their talent, you make better relationships. You don't have to bond over alcohol only.
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