"I am 'shameless' enough to explore every possibility open"

For millions of TV viewers in India, Sonu Nigam is a familiar figure, thanks to the success of Sa Re Ga Ma and Kismey Kitna Hai Dam.

This Faridabad-born singer owes his success to his father Agam Kumar, whose enthusiasm for music was passed on to Nigam. Trained under Kumar, Nigam gave his first stage performance at an early age of three. He sang the Mohammed Rafi number Kya Hua Tera Vaada (from the film Hum Kisise Kum Nahin) along with his father. He made his way to Mumbai, the city of dreams , when he was barely 18.

Nigam's first song was recorded for film Aaja Meri Jaa. Soon, the late T-Series head Gulshan Kumar signed Nigam for his music company and he started churning out hits like Achha sila diya tune mere pyaar ka... (film Bewafa Sanam).

Today, this chocolate faced-singer-turned-anchor-turned-actor awaits his first significant film Love in Nepal, slated for an October release. He's acquired a new brawny hip look for the film.

Nigam made some candid confessions to Vickey Lalwani in an interview. Excerpts:


How did 'Love in Nepal' happen?

About a year ago, director Rajat Mukerjee came to me and said he had a script which only I could do justice to. Naturally, I agreed. Within a few days, the remaining cast was decided. Love in Nepal started rolling.


This is your third film. Your earlier movies 'Jaani Dushman' and 'Kaash Aap Hamare Hote' flopped. Worried?

When a movie goes wrong, a lot of factors are responsible for its failure. Unfortunately, in India people don't understand this. The hero and heroine are made the scapegoats.

I wouldn't like to go into details as to why the movies failed. Of course, I know the reasons but people's emotions are involved. I wouldn't like to hurt anyone. Anyway, who hasn't tasted failure? I am not worried.


Being a singer, how satisfied are you with the songs of the film?

The cassettes are selling well enough. However, I would have preferred to be there while the songs were being made. Had that been the case, I am sure the end product would have been better. That's how I - and even Nikhil and Vinay, the music directors of the film - feel.

That's just one regret I have with this movie. Nikhil and Vinay are super music directors - their talent could have been tapped better.


Sonu Nigam and co-star Fllora Saini in a still from 'Love in Nepal'
"I want to act in every existing genre - like romance, action and comedy. My gut feeling is that I will succeed in all"

Why did you move to acting?

Everybody I know - directors, friends and even journalists - used to urge me to try my hand at films. "You'll do well"- I was repeatedly told. Slowly, their opinions started to sink in.

I never took any acting classes. My advantage is that I am a known face and people identify my through television.


Did television anchoring help you in acting?

Anchoring on television made me choreographer- and camera-friendly. Of course, as a child I have acted in films. But when you grow up and face the camera, you need to loosen up a bit. So yes, anchoring was helpful.


Any particular reason for the new look?

Well, I have always kept changing my looks at regular intervals. It's just that people are noticing me more now. When I first came to Mumbai, I had shoulder-length hair. After some days in the city, I sported a crew cut. Then I had longish hair and a thick, coarse beard in Sa Re Ga Ma.

I love to keep changing my look. I don't do it for anyone else - a new makeover just makes me feel good. And hey, girls love the current look! (laughs).


How are you planning your career, here on?

There's so much happening. Television offers, film offers, singing offers... I live the life of an actor, singer, dancer, anchor - all at one time.

But in the long run, I am looking to make my forte in every genre of acting - romance, action, comedy. I have a gut feeling that I will be successful in all the genres.


"Versatility is my strongest point. All my songs are radically different from each other. But I am at ease singing all of them"


How do you shuttle between careers as varied as music, films and anchoring?

Why not? I am a gifted child. My biggest gift is my 'shamelessness', which others don't have.

People are very restricted in what they want to do, they don't try out much in life. I am 'shameless' enough to explore every possibility open. I hated dancing, but still learnt it.

I am sure that many people are jealous of me. They can't stand my multidimensional capabilities. They want to pull me down - which is typically Indian. Some 'great men' (who are conferred with awards almost every year), have even tried to misguide me in the past.


Are you interested in acting in TV serials?

No. I wouldn't do TV serials. There is not enough money in that. But I am open to anchoring new shows on television, subject to its format and the terms and conditions.


Television brought recognition to your singing talent...

(interrupts) I beg to differ. I was a singer first. I bagged Sa Re Ga Ma because I was a singer. I can't lay the credit for the recognition of my singing talent on Sa Re Ga Ma. I got singing assignments for films because of my pop albums.

Let me put it differently. Television gave you the platform to come into limelight. Agree?

Yes, agree. That's precisely why I didn't listen to those who discouraged me from doing this medium. I trust my own judgment. I knew the impact of television. I knew the reach of television. Almost 70 per cent of my success today is due to television.
You have worked on Star Plus as well as Zee. What is the difference between these channels?

(smiles). My experience with both channels was great. Both have their pros and cons, but it would be unfair to compare.
As a singer, what is your strongest point?

Versatility. All my songs - be it What is your mobile number?.., Zindagi maut na ban jaaye sambhaalo yaaro..., Bijuriya... or Ye phoolo ki dukaan per gori ka makaan... - are radically different from each other. But I am at ease singing all of them.

In your early days, did you have to approach people for work or did they come to you?

For the first five years, I was a beggar. Everybody begs in their initial days. No newcomer can walk into an office and say, "Sir, I am very good at my job. If you want me, you can hire me."

However, at present, I'm working very hard. Singing, dancing, body building, acting - all this requires regular inputs. I want to grow further in the industry.

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