Sonu Nigam Image Credit: Supplied

Bollywood singer Sonu Nigam, who is staying in Dubai until the coronavirus pandemic curve flattens out, describes the social-distancing and isolation as life’s ‘re-set’ button.

After his flight to India got cancelled last week due to the escalating health scare over COVID-19, Nigam has used this time productively.

In an exclusive interview with Gulf News tabloid! over the phone on March 22 from his friend’s mansion in Emirates Hills, the ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’ singer — who was rehearsing for career’s first online concert during India’s Janata Curfew — said that he intends to cheer up the world in a way he knows best. One brilliant song at a time.

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Bollywood legendary singer Sonu Nigam Live In Concert at Dubai Tennis Stadium on 18th November 2016 night. Photo: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News

“My online concert from Dubai will be of high quality in terms of sound and it will not be like a [amateur] concert cobbled together at home. The easiest thing to do would have been to hold a camera in front of my face, press record and start singing for my people. But that’s not a concert experience. We are working a bit harder on it to give everyone an unforgettable experience tonight,” said Nigam.

Excerpts from our conversation with Nigam, hours before his virtual concert to support Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Janata Curfew request to all citizens …

What prompted you to headline a virtual concert on Janata Curfew day in India from Dubai?

The idea of a virtual concert was in my mind for some time now. I didn’t know what to do exactly because nothing inspired me then. But when the news of the Janata curfew lockdown got introduced in India by our Indian Prime Minister Modiji, I realised that everybody will be at home at 8pm today and now would be a good time for an online virtual concert.

Perhaps, some may even be a bit frustrated at being home all day since they are not expected to leave their homes all day.

This is not a curfew maintaining any law and order situation 8in a country, but to protect the health of a whole society. So I thought 6.30pm in Dubai [8pm India time] would be good time to introduce some music into everyone’s lives.

But I wanted to do my first virtual concert in the most professional manner from Dubai. One of my close friends, Adil Farooq in Dubai, has helped me in taking up a studio and I have two wonderful musicians who will be with me this evening and we are working on the sounds together.

It’s not easy to pull off an online concert on Youtube, Facebook and Insta, so we knew we needed a great technical team for it. My wife is also working very hard on the sidelines. This is not like an unplugged concert where you can watch me perform any time, just like any real concert you have to be online sharp at 6.30pm and we finish in an hour. You can watch it like a later recording.

So do you live in Dubai now?

My son studies here now, so our life is partially here now. The UAE has become like my country now and this concert is symbolic of two countries coming together in music. I am happy that music fans from both these countries and around the world will be tuning in this evening at 6.30pm. (8pm India time).

Will you be singing upbeat numbers to cheer all those who feel underwhelmed by the self-isolation in the times of a global pandemic?

I am not going to give away the farm and tell you what I have in store yet. But I can tell you that the mood of this concert will be different and the ambience will feel different. And, I am going to take in requests for songs from fans because it’s an online concert and that’s one of the biggest advantages. If it’s a pre-recorded concert, then that wasn’t an option.

Please feel free to log in today evening and request a song and I will sing it for you.

How has social distancing in the times of coronavirus changed you?

I have seen the collective ‘people power’ in these times. There’s no high or down when it comes to Coronavirus. The world has been united by this one power of people coming together. When there’s so much chaos around the world, a re-set button is naturally pressed.

Coronavirus is like our re-set button. I am now spending so much time with my son. After my rehearsals last nigh, my son came up to me and said ‘Chotu [he calls me that], it’s so nice to be around you. I am now inspired to work hard and work out like you’”. He is even exercising with me now as he had gained a bit of weight. I am spending a lot of quality time with my boy now. I would have been even more happier had I been with my father, but I can’t be a potential carrier of Coronavirus so I will not travel anywhere now. I am staying put.

Many are being quite cavalier about social distancing, what would you say to those who are not taking the quarantine and self-isolation seriously enough?

I believe in the concept of balance. We shouldn’t panic nor should we be careless. If I have a choice to stay at home and work, then I should appreciate this moment in my life. All this while, people crave to spend time with their families and wish for vacations, but now that you are forced to be in your homes, you are now feeling stuck. It’s an absolute case of non-gratitude.

When people complain about social-distancing, I want to tell them that our roads and the air is getting cleaner. This is also a time when you can read and learn things online. This period shall pass too. It’s not like we are going to be stuck in this situation forever. This testing period will pass in a month or two and you will be back to business as usual. So why complain?


Don’t Miss It!

Sonu Nigam will perform live for free on his YouTube channel and on Instagram at @sonunigamofficial. The concert will be available to watch and enjoy from 6.30pm to 7.30pm tonight.