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Sonu's new love

That time never stands still is made amply clear by a look at Sonu Nigam's career graph, notes S.M.YASIR after a talk with the singer-turned-actor and would-be Bollywood star who was in New Delhi recently... .

A song of love...Sonu Nigam hopes for the best with "Love in Nepal". Photos: Rajeev Bhatt.

GONE ARE the days when the mighty pendulum would stir you up every hour, but time still speaks loud. For proof, sample this chronology. January 1988, Sonu Nigam won a semi-classical ghazal competition. Nothing so extraordinary - just that it was only one of the many with similar results. For instance, even the one held at Siri Fort saw him emerge as the winner. Recognition in Delhi made this eighteen-year-old with stars in his eyes move to the city of dreams, Bombay, where he was to be hailed as the voice of the immortal Rafi Saheb.

But that was long after the days of toil and the nights of gloom, long after the days when bigger singers sang a few of his songs, leaving him shattered. Tears filled his eyes but he continued, continued to fight the world. Voices however don't always leave the lingering impact that every singer would desire. Rafi's voice helped him get through this acid test. And then an antakshari happened, an antakshari that was to see him emerge as the host of one of the most successful shows of its kind, "Sa Re Ga Ma".

Sonu Nigam, son of Agam Kumar Nigam - who had won the same competition at Siri Fort two years before his son - had finally arrived. "People thought I was mad when I did the show in `95. But I had faith. `Sa Re Ga Ma' was to me, what `Zanjeer' was to Amitabh Bachchan," he elaborates.

What followed were a few more years to serve as good points in the chronology. 1998 saw him being deluged by song offers. `98 again, got him his first singing award - the Zee Cine Award. Countless hits that soon came, such as "Achha Sila Diya Mere Pyaar Ka", "Sandese Aate Hain", "Yaar Mangiyassi" made him a household name.

Stage shows and albums saw him fight it out. "I hated dancing. But when I needed it I took it in my stride," informs the heartthrob who has now taken to acting. Only this time, the gong may as well have remained silent. "Jaani Dushman" and "Kaash Aap Hamare Hote" left him high and dry, blaming the director for not utilising him up to his potential.

At New Delhi's Tivoli Gardens, where he has come to promote his latest acting venture, "Love in Nepal", he says: "It's very essential for me for the movie to be a hit. It's a romantic comedy that has been directed with extreme care. The character I play differs from real life because unlike the character, I know how to get out of tough situations."

And you know that there is truth in the last line when he tells you that he managed to get out of the terrible situation he landed in after kissing the heroine of the film in front of his wife. Anyway, let's see where the pendulum swings this time, and how loud it strikes.

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