Pop singer Sunidhi Chauhan, who will perform live at Coca-Cola Arena in Dubai on August 13, believes that it’s easy to be stereotyped in the Indian music industry. Fortunately, the ‘Sheila Ki Jawani’ hitmaker — known for her strong and brassy voice in Bollywood films — bucked that scary ‘typecast’ trend because top composers placed trust in her versatility. At one point in her career, she was labelled as Bollywood’s undisputed queen of ‘item numbers’. For those out of the Indian music loop, item songs are usually racy, titillating numbers that are inserted into a film for the purpose of showcasing glamorous actors executing complex dance moves. These songs are often unrelated to the story-line of a film, but are hugely popular since they beef up the glamour quotient in a film.
“I am what I am because of my voice,” said Chauhan in an interview with Gulf News ahead of her UAE concert.
“The voice that sang ‘Mast’ and ‘Mehboob Mere’ is also the voice that sang the romantic hit ‘Meri Zindagi Mein Ajnabee Ka’ and I am happy that people accepted me even in that genre,” she added.
This singer, who has more than 25 years of experience under her fashionable belt, credits seasoned composers like Anu Malik who took a chance on her and gave her compositions that explored her range as an artiste.
“Such music directors had the vision to see me sing different kinds of song … My song ‘Kaisi Paheli’ had a total jazz feel, but it worked. And it’s all thanks to the music directors who had faith in me,” said Chauhan.
Organised by PME Events, this three-hour concert promises to be a spectacular musical evening that takes you through Chauhan’s eventful musical catalogue. Here’s her take on …
Performing in Dubai:
“I am super excited about performing in Dubai. Performing in front of that audience is always magical. It’s one of the few cities in the world which makes you feel like you can sing any song and they will be with you – singing and dancing to support you … Dubai has fantastic taste and they are so versatile. They have the bandwidth to listen to any language and respond to those songs with open hearts … My live concert after the lockdown was in Dubai.”
Juggling motherhood and her singing career:
“My son has grown up a little. He’s four and a half years old now … Like all mums out there, I balance both in a paralleled manner. I love what I do and I have learned to strike a great balance between motherhood and my singing career.”
Surviving COVID-19 and the lockdown that brought concerts to a grinding halt:
“It was very difficult. I missed meeting people and performing for them. I am not active on social media and I felt a little disconnected … Having said that, I enjoyed the ME time it afforded me for so many months. I discovered a lot of things about myself. I learned to write my own songs during that time. Lockdown was a boon for me, honestly. I felt a different energy. After taking care of my child and doing all that housework, I felt like a superwoman. My baby and I got to spend time together and I didn’t have any help. My son needed that. Most working parents are unable to give that kind of time to our children. In my eyes, the lockdown was a golden time for kids all over the world. They had their parents next to them and they could be themselves. Otherwise, they are often surrounded by gadgets.”
Staying away from social media:
“They really juice you out and that’s why I want a balance. I am not totally out there on social media because it can stressful. It’s impossible to be in touch with all of them and that’s the bald truth. You can’t reply to everyone nor can you please everyone … The good side is that social media gives you so much exposure and have given people wings to fly. You can create your own music or song and then put it online and create your own audience. Now, there are people waiting to see what you can do.”
“If you have seen my track record, I have really worked towards getting better at what I do. More than proving anything to anyone, I am about how I feel inside. I want to prove to myself that I am getting better … That’s the real fight and that struggle of mine is conveyed to my fans. I have been for 25 years and it could get boring, but it’s those people who love me for me and my music that keeps me relevant and rooted. I can never forget where I came from and how it all began for me. I am a product of where I came from. I just want to keep working hard, singing, and making myself feel good first. Everything else will fall into place. It’s also about taking care of your health. I have never felt fatigued or underwhelmed … Perhaps, at the age of 70 or 80, I might be struck with that feeling. Music still tickles me.”
The formula behind her success:
“There’s no formula to crack here. Music comes straight from the heart and that kind of honesty always translates and reaches out. There are many singers who are probably not great, but their great personalities convey their thought process about what they feel about the world and what they feel about love. They are, sometimes, great song writers and that’s what makes them stand apart. Music is not just about sur or taal, it’s a lot more … I just want to live each and every moment of my life. I don’t want to get distracted. When people ask me where I see myself ten years from now, I am clueless … I may be dead tomorrow!”
If not a singer, she would be …
“I love to design homes and that’s music for me too.”
Courting fame when young like a Disney darling:
“When I was young, my dad was always around me. I started singing in movies from the age of 11. My dad struggled a lot on my behalf. My struggle was to sing correctly and sound good, he did all the talking and asking around … But it all changed, when I was on my own.”
Fighting against being typecast as a singer:
“Many in the music industry thought I could only sing in a particular way and my real struggle was to change that mindset. I had to show everyone that I am capable of a lot more … I wanted to sing love songs and ghazals, but many thought I couldn’t. Luckily, Anu Malikji felt that I had a voice for a romantic song … It’s very easy to be typecast in this industry, but if you have the talent and the drive then the universe will somehow make it happen.”
When: August 13
Venue: Coca-Cola Arena
Time: 8.30pm (Doors open 7pm)
Tickets: Dh99 and upwards
This concert of Sunidhi Chauhan will be different than any other performance … This melody queen has been rehearsing for over a month and will perform her top chartbusters at this concert