Sonu Nigam Biography
Sonu Nigam or Sonu Niigaam (Hindi: सोनु निगम; born July 30, 1973 in Faridabad, Haryana, India) is a highly acclaimed Indian playback singer whose songs have been featured in numerous Bollywood and Kannada movies. He has also released numerous Indi-pop albums and acted in a few Hindi feature films. He recently changed the spelling of his last name from 'Nigam' to 'Niigaam' in accordance with numerology.
Early years and playback singing
Sonu Nigam began his singing career at the age of three, when he joined his father on stage to sing Mohammad Rafi's "Kya Hua Tera Wada". Then on, he accompanied his father on his singing assignments at weddings and parties. In his teenage years, he participated in several music competitions successfully. He moved to Mumbai with his father to begin his Bollywood singing career at the age of 18.
His initial years in Mumbai proved to be a struggle, and he started by singing covers of Mohammad Rafi songs, mainly for the "Rafi Ki Yaadein" album series. These albums contributed to his label for some time as a "Rafi clone." His first movie song as a playback singer was in the movie, "Janum" (1990), which was never officially released. He got a break as a playback singer in Gulshan Kumar's movie, "Aaja Meri Jaan". He then sang the song, "Accha Sila Diya", for the album, "Bewafa Sanam" (1995), which gave him the recognition as an established playback singer.
Sonu started hosting "Sa Re Ga Ma," a television singing talent competition, which soon became one of the most popular shows on Indian television. The first episode of "Sa Re Ga Ma" was aired on May 1, 1995. Singing offers poured in thereafter, though slowly at first. He rose to fame with the song, "Sandese Aate Hain", in Border (1997). Anu Malik was the music director of this movie. Sonu's image as a Rafi clone changed after his rendition of the Nadeem-Shravan composed song, "Yeh Dil Deewana" in Pardes (1997). Since then, he has created a unique style of his own, and has become a role model for budding male singers in India.
Over the years, Sonu has become a major force in the Indian music industry. He has provided playback singing for a large number of Hindi movies and won many awards. His rendition of Kal Ho Na Ho has been highly popular. He is recognised for his versatile voice as well as excellent emotion range. Sonu has sung with clear pronunciations, in many languages besides Hindi, including Bengali, Oriya, Kannada, Punjabi,Tamil, Telugu, English, Bhojpuri, Urdu, Nepali and Marathi.
His 2008 playback songs include songs from Yuvvraaj and Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, in which he sings a song paying tribute to yesteryear Bollywood actors like Raj Kapoor, Rajesh Khanna, Shammi Kapoor, Dev Anand and Rishi Kapoor. The song is picturised on Shahrukh Khan and the music direction is by Salim-Sulaiman.
Pop albums and concerts
Sonu has released a number of pop albums, both in Hindi and in Punjabi, to his name. The very recent addition to this list is "Classically Mild", best among all. He has also released several albums of Mohammad Rafi's songs, as well as devotional albums. Of recent releases, in September 2007, he released a 6-disc collection of Mohammad Rafi's 100 best songs in the latter's memory. The collection is titled "Kal, Aaj, Aur Kal". In 2008, soon after releasing "Classically Mild", he released a single Punjabi track called "Punjabi Please", and "Rafi Resurrected", a 2-disc collection of Mohammad Rafi songs with music by the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
Over the years. Sonu has given concert performances in many countries, including United States, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Russia, Afghanistan, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bangkok, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, West Indies, Mauritius, Nigeria and South Africa. In May/June 2007, he participated in a star-studded show in North America called "The Incredibles" in which famed Asha Bhonsle and recent singing sensations, Kunal Ganjawala and Kailash Kher, participated. In September and October, respectively, of the same year, he gave a solo concert titled, "Simply Sonu", in Canada and Germany, (becoming the first Indian singer to perform in the latter country). In April 2008, he did a marathon of concerts in various cities in India, promoting his Punjabi single "Punjabi Please".
In November 2007, at the inauguration of Harvard University's 28th president, Dr. Drew Gilpin Faust, Sonu sang with the Harvard College Sangeet the late Mahatma Gandhi's favorite bhajan, " Vaishnav Jan To Tene Kahiye".
In July 2008, he participated in a three-city tour of the United Kingdom, singing numerous famous Mohammad Rafi songs with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. This followed the release of these songs by the CBSO and the Indian music company Sa Re Ga Ma in a historic album entitled "Rafi Resurrected".
Television, radio and acting
Besides "Sa Re Ga Ma," Sonu Nigam has also hosted the TV show Kisme Kitna Hai Dum and has been a judge on the show Indian Idol (aired on Sony Entertainment Television) seasons 1 and 2. Sonu has returned to Indian Idol in its third and fourth seasons as a celebrity judge. He was also a celebrity judge on Amul Star Voice of India in August 2007 in season 1 and in December 2008 in season 2. In October 2007, Sonu came back to the sets of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa in a historical moment of sorts, this time as a judge (along with Suresh Wadkar) on the show Sa Re Ga Ma Pa L'il Champs International.
In 2006, Sonu also hosted his own radio show called 'Life Ki Dhun With Sonu Niigaam' on Radiocity 91 FM, where he had the opportunity to interview several music industry greats, including the legendary Lata Mangeshkar.
Sonu's acting career started as a child artist in a number of films including 1983s Betaab. As an adult, Sonu has acted in a few more films namely Jaani Dushman: Ek Anokhi Kahani alongside Sunny Deol, Manisha Koirala and Akshay Kumar as well as other actors; Kash Aap Hamare Hote where he plays the lead opposite Juhi Babbar, daughter of Raj Babbar; and lastly Love in Nepal with 'Flora Saini' and 'Sweta Keswani', where he plays the lead again. However it is to be said that all three films have not done well at the box-office. although his acting was much better appreciated in his last venture. He has not taken up acting since his last venture Love in Nepal, but has recently been said to be involved in another film as a lead actor. The film, called 'Ankhon Ankhon Mein' is supposedly about a blind singer.
His future projects include an English album called "Spirit Unfolding". He may be acting in a new film called Ankhon Hi Ankhon Mein, about a blind singer, although he has not officially signed it yet. He is also doing playback singing for a number of upcoming films, including Chandan Arora's Striker, Yaariyan, Run Mein Fun and Three Idiots starring Aamir Khan, with Shantanu Moitra as music director.He is also singing for the film Blue with international artist Kylie Minogue with Oscar winner A.R.Rahman as music director.
In a recent interview, he confirmed that he is working on a new Kannada album. He has launched a new Ganesh album in August, and is thinking about a project on Manna Dey. He also revealed that there are plans for the Rafi Resurrected concerts to happen in the rest of Europe, the United States and India soon.
Personal life And Voluntary Work
Sonu was born to Mr Agam Kumar Nigam and Mrs Shobha Nigam on July 30, 1973 in Faridabad, Haryana, India. He attended the J.D. Tytler School. He has two sisters, Meenal and Neekita. Sonu is very close to his parents. Both his father and mother are good singers, and in 2005 and 2007 his father released two highly popular albums, "Bewafaai" and "Phir Bewafaai", respectively. Neekita is also a singer. She has sung a few playback songs and appeared on a few stage shows with Sonu. Sonu married Madhurima on 15 February 2002. They have a son, Nevaan, born on July 25, 2007.
He is very much into fitness and yoga exercises, and has even trained in taekwondo. He claims to be spiritual rather than religious. He used to be keen at his studies in his younger age and enjoys reading. He also enjoys mimicry and commonly mimics other singers in Bollywood.
Sonu has done various charity work all over India as well as abroad for Dignity Foundation, Cancer organizations, Leprosy organizations, Blindness organizations, Womens welfare organizations, Kargil war affected families, Earthquake affected families. He also sponsors a child from the organization “Crayon”.