He was magic, sorry magic is not what he did that night, he was mesmerizing, sorry mesmerizing was not what he was doing that night, he was swaying, sorry he was not just swaying that night, he was singing, sorry he was not just singing that night, if he was not doing all that, what was Sonu Nigam really doing for four hours without a break even to take a breath, except for having sips of water and waving out to the roaring crowd, the crazy crowd, the mad crowd screaming for more and more of Sonu? I have seen many solo performances by some of the best singers, but what Sonu did that night, I am sorry to say has made me forget all the performances I have been a witness to…
I had heard about how Sonu takes the world into the palms of his hands while he is singing on stage. I had heard people from different parts of the world singing his praises and telling me what a stupid Indian I was if I had not witnessed Sonu Nigam spelling his magic on people of all ages, I did not want to be called stupid again and so decided to be present at the Sonu Nigam show which was to be a part of the fifty-first Master Deenanath Mangeshkar Awards given to people from different fields of life to which they had made a major contribution….
It all started when Pandit Hridayanath Mangeshkar called Sonu in America and asked him if he would sing at the awards function at which Bharat Ratna Lata Mangeshkar herself would present the awards at the Shanmukhananda Auditorium. Sonu had to just hear the name Lata Mangeshkar and his mind stopped functioning. He had made up his mind. He was going to sing at the programme because he believed it was not only an honour but a great blessing to sing before “Saraswati Mata”, Lata Mangeshkar. Panditji tried talking money for the show and Sonu shut his ears, how could he think of charging his normal or any fee to perform at a show where Lataji would be listening to him with a huge crowd of his crazy fans? I say crazy because I saw how crazy his fans were all the time he was on stage that night …
He had only one request, he wanted his own group of musicians and his special request was to have his own equipment allowed into the Shanmukhananda Auditorium which has a strict rule not to allow even the greatest musicians or singers to have their own private equipment, but just one sweet word from Lataji and the rule just fizzled out and Sonu was thrilled to have the stage to himself, to rule the way he wanted to….
His name was announced by a beautiful anchor-actress Suchitra Menon and was followed by a crescendo of music which could tear the roof and even the sky when Sonu landed on the stage dressed in an all-white ensemble and the madness among the audience is something I will never forget for the rest of my life.
Following Indian traditions and knowing that he was about to sing before the queen of music, Sonu bowed and even knelt before Lataji and sought her permission to start his show. She had made it clear that she would sit for a while and then leave, but how could she when she could see a young man do what she had rarely seen anyone doing in her long and illustrious life dedicated to music? And every time she made signs of restlessness and trying to make a request to leave, Sonu knew the art of keeping her and her family in their seats.
It is difficult to know how many songs Sonu must have sung that night, but it was very easy to know that he was no ordinary or even extraordinary singer and showman who knew how to read the moods of the people and had his fingers on the pulse of every human being, he sang a wide variety of songs and if anyone had any idea that he would be singing only his own songs, they were in for a “golden” surprise to see him and to hear him sing the songs of every popular and even not so popular singer during the last fifty years, it was difficult to imagine from where this young man got all his talent and more than just his talent, all his endless energy, excitement and enthusiasm to just go on and on and make his audience including the Mangeshkar family believe that he was not just a singer but “an aasmaan se aaya huwa farishta”.
He grew more energetic when he saw more and more people of all ages willingly singing with him, they knew every song he sang and they gave their best to make his show one of the best ever shows. He could not only sing in the best male voices, especially the songs of his favourite singer, Mohammad Rafi, but could even surprise his fans by singing songs in both male and female voices at the same time, even trying to imitate the Nightingale Of India who was sitting right in front of him, the woman in white who he had only dreamt of singing before…
His relationship with his audience was something to be seen to be believed. They wanted him to sing every song more than once, the “once mores” were so many that he would have to sing the whole night and his fans would continue to sit and listen to him as long as he wanted to sing…
He finally came up with his biggest surprise, when they kept asking for more and more he gave them his biggest surprise, he ran backstage for the first time and brought in a little boy, he introduced the three- year old boy as his only son Neevan, placed him on his knees and asked Neevan if he would join him in singing and the boy was a little shy, but once he took off he brought the roof down with his father and the father and son had to run for shelter, the love of the people was too much to bear for one night…
And the best scene of the night was seeing the ninth wonder of the world, the jewel of India, the real miracle worked by God for man, Lata Mangeshkar still sitting in her seat like many others who did not want a great and golden show like this Sonu Nigam show to ever end. Aise khiladi to humne bahot dekhe, lekin Sonu Nigam jaisa khiladi abhi jaldi to paida nahi karega woh ooparwala,ye mujhe yakeen hai, ek Sonu banaakar usne itne saare chamatkar dekh liye, ek Sonu aur banaane se pehle woh sau saal aur sochega…..
SONU – SIX YEARS LATER
Whistling Woods International (WWI) celebrated another exhilarating 5th Veda session by hosting the legendary playback singer and composer, Sonu Nigam. In the presence of 500 engrossed students of Asia’s premier film, communication, and creative arts institute, the guest shared his accumulated years of wisdom and the steps he took on his path to stardom.
The event began with a tree-planting ceremony led by Sonu Nigam, in the company of Subhash Ghai, Founder & Chairman, and Ms. Meghna Ghai Puri, President, WWI. This was followed by a stirring performance by the students of WWI’s School of Music, who paid tribute to the guest’ contributions to the industry, much to the appreciation of the guest. Subsequently, an AV that explored the world of music and the tremendous contributions of Indian musicians was screened, followed by an AV detailing esteemed guest’ career and the joy his work brought to millions.
Soon after, Subhash Ghai took to the stage to welcome the guest of honour, who started sharing his life journey with the captivated audience, culminating to his first paying job – an effort that earned him 150 rupees.
Subhash Ghai then took the opportunity to share a live lesson with the listeners. “Students have to struggle,” he shared. “What qualities does one need to possess apart from talent to struggle?” Sonu Nigam’s response was deeply insightful, as he shared, “Every person’s journey is different. I would suggest to the students that they keep learning as there is no end to it. Knowledge never goes to waste. Try to have a distinct style.”
The talented artist, further advised the students by highlighting to embrace a positive mind-set, for as he said, “Check the words that you use. Check and control your thoughts, even when you are alone. You should be with the right people who infuse positivity. Negative people are poisonous. Do not be happy with someone’s failure.”
The conversation then took on a musical tone, with Sonu Nigam displaying his versatility as he listed a few of his all-time favourite songs – these included Acha Sila Diya Tune Mere Pyar Ka, Sandese Aate Hai, and Yeh Dil Deewana. He followed this up by sharing a priceless piece of advice for aspiring musicians, stating, “It’s important to deliver better than what is expected.” He also paid tribute to the pivotal role Subhash Ghai played in his career, saying, “I wasn’t someone who was known to be a singer, until I met Subhash Ghai.”
With the session coming to an end, Sonu Nigam shared the three key traits necessary to achieve success as a playback singer – sur, constant practice, and enjoyment tempered by humility. As a final treat to the enthusiastic audience, the students of the School of Music took to the stage to regale the guest with few of his favourite hits, who responded favourably and provided invaluable feedback.
Ms. Meghna Ghai Puri subsequently thanked Sonu Nigam and presented a token of appreciation for his generosity, and the students showcased their gratitude with a roar of applause.
That evening, Sonu had revealed one more side to his personality. He proved that he was a very patient, understanding knowledgeable and experienced young teacher who was willing to go out of his way to share the secrets of his success with the new generation. What was interesting for me was that he was dressed in all white when I saw him at that magical show 6 years ago and was again wearing all white at the Whistling Woods on this evening. What is the secret behind your fascination for the colour white, Sonu?
For more Bollywood updates, follow Bollyy!
Tags: Bollywood, Bollywood News, Bollywood Updates, Television, Telly News, Sonu Nigam, Bharat Ratna, Lata Mangeshkar