Music is the main ingredient of a dish called life for singer Sonu Nigam

The warmth of his humility counters the biting winter cold. Diminutive he might be in appearance but the aura lends him a certain grandeur. The dazzling lighting at Spectra, the multi-cuisine restaurant at The Leela Kempinski, Gurgaon, helps the cause. Unassuming and candid as ever, Sonu Nigam, the singer par excellence, responding to a question says, like every musician, he too is a foodie. “All musicians love to eat, maybe because there is a lot of physical activity involved.” Recalling a funny incident, he says, “I was travelling for a show and I was feeling hungry so I asked the air-hostess for something to eat. The gentleman sitting next to me was quite amused. He immediately called somebody and said, ‘Kha raha hai'. So, yes we also eat. There is a lot of stress on the vocal chords and facial muscles get strained. But I am also careful so I work out a lot combining yoga, cardio and strength training. I indulge in non-vegetarian food occasionally, like today I had a chicken burger after a long time,” says Sonu tucking into the nutritious Greek salad.

His day packs in four to five meals in small portions and he is onto his fourth for today, much of which has been spent making music for an upcoming Hindi film Jal. For the project, Sonu is collaborating with Bickram Ghosh, a well-known percussionist and accompanist to many stalwarts in the field of Hindustani classical music. While the main compositions are nearly done, the duo is now concentrating on the background score. The artiste was in the city primarily for this purpose.

“Melody is going to be the mainstay of the album, something that stays with you for a long time,” explains the singer, who is working on another album, a world music one, and also composing music for yet another Hindi film, details of which he can't reveal just yet. Add to it the recently released album Icchapurti Gayatri Mantras and Sonu has his platter full. “The world music album should be out as soon as I finish recording all the songs. There has been no time,” says Sonu. This is the hectic concert season and Sonu has had no respite. Delhi, the city where he grew up and is still home to his grandparents, his best friends and cousins, has witnessed a string of concerts in the last one month. As for playback singing, his voice will be heard in two major films, Joker and Krrish 2, slated to release next year.

There is one more platter awaiting him but nothing that reminds him of all the pending work. On this one sit pretty the delicacies from his favourite Japanese cuisine. Sonu absolutely relishes the sashimi served to him with soy sauce and wasabi paste. It seems junior Nigam, all of three, is stepping into his father's shoes with his milk version of “Kolaveri Di” having become a rage, and even before this, having recorded a song with Lata Mangeshkar. Neevan like Sonu is turning out to be a child prodigy. “It would mean a lot of expectations from him which won't be fair. He is too small for all this, but he is a very intelligent child with good grasp over sur and taal. So, he was singing the song casually and we decided to record it, because like everybody I also document the activities of my child. My wife, Madhurima, who is a very good editor, edited it and I put it on Youtube. So, it was a very domestic effort,” chuckles Sonu.

Independent music is going through a rough patch and Sonu, who has to his credit many successful albums in this genre, feels that singers have to adapt themselves to the newer ways of the times. “We can't just keep complaining. The model has to change. You have to keep trying, be it a spiritual album, or a song…there are so many listeners, so many fans of yours, out there. Put everything that you have in the market and when you go to a concert, at least five people would have heard it. We have to use the Internet and new ways of reaching out to the people, and I always tell this to my colleagues in the industry.”

The desserts are given a miss as the singer had specified in the beginning that he not be served any. “I had made a vow that if a certain wish will be fulfilled, I will give up on desserts, but I eat things like gajak, rewri, etc.”

Keywords: Sonu Nigam