Bollywood singer Sunidhi Chauhan is struggling to catch her breath. And it's not because the Sheila Ki Jawani songstress has belted out more than 2,000 songs, a staggering statistic that she drops into the chat ever so casually.
"I don't believe in numbers nor do I keep a track of it. I just keep singing," said Chauhan in an interview over the phone from Mumbai. The voice behind some of the raciest songs in Bollywood is busy fitting song recordings, meetings with music composers, talking up her upcoming gig with Atif Aslam in Dubai on Thursday and battling traffic snarls in Mumbai — all in one day.
"Sometimes I don't even know for which film the song is going to be used or whom it will be picturised on. I don't think a lot — I just start singing. If a song is good, then I try doubly hard. I enjoy the process of singing."
Even what should have been a career highlight for her — the much-hyped collaboration with Spanish sensation Enrique Iglesias — seems to blur. Earlier this year in February, these two musicians worked at adding an Indian flavour to his romantic track Heartbeat, which originally featured Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger.
"It was a very brief meeting with Enrique — he was busy with his schedule like touring and travelling. We just recorded a few lines together in LA. That was it, we did the rest in India," said Chauhan, 28, in hurried tones.
No looking back
But don't let her clipped responses mislead you into thinking that she wasn't excited at the prospect of recording with an international talent. At the age of 11, Chauhan sang her first track for a Bollywood film and since then she's never looked back.
"I never expected such a collaboration to come about. I loved his Bailamos and I never thought that I would one day sing a song with him. It was all good." And she believes that the collaboration was a direct result of her prolific work in the Indian music industry.
Billed as Bollywood's go-to girl for item numbers, Chauhan has her name featured in the playback singing list of almost every other Bollywood release.
"I don't go with a definite plan in my head. I look back on my career and I know I have done well. But I don't think about it too much."
So does she ever dwell on the suggestive lyrics that make for her biggest hits? "I don't think of all that, it's the others' job to talk about it. And let them, if it makes them happy. The fact is wherever I go people want me to sing those songs over and over again. I think that's the bestest feeling. I am only concerned about that and nothing else."
Cementing her feelings are the multiple nods that she has received from various Bollywood award ceremonies including Apsara Awards and the Filmfare Awards at which she won the Best Playback singer gong for the Sheila Ki Jawani track.
"I have my fans coming up to me and saying that I am the real Sheila and that to me is the biggest compliment," said Chauhan. The chart-topping song was picturised on Bollywood scorcher Katrina Kaif gyrating to her voice.
"I love the song and frankly, I rarely look back on things I have achieved. If you ask me about my turning point I would have to say, it was the day I sang for Mast," said Chauhan referring to the 1999 film that put her on the Bollywood playback singing map. Though the romantic drama starring Urmila Matondkar didn't do well at the box-office, her song Ruki Ruki Si Zindagi was a chart topper.
"After that, there was no turning back. I am focusing on the future now. I can't wait to meet my fans in Dubai. Atif and I have performed together before at a concert in the US. And it was a great experience. I hope to top that experience."
Don't miss it
- Where: Dubai Aviation Club
- When: Thursday
- Time: 9pm
- Tickets: Dh125, Dh250 and Dh500
- Contact: 055-2413571 or 04-3587500