May 17, 2010

‘Don’t need another Sunidhi or Sonu’ - Sunidhi Chauhan

On her first television stint, the nation’s favourite singing voice Sunidhi Chauhan tells t2 about life with Indian Idol, her role, expectations and Bollywood the way she knows it.

Being on the judge’s seat for a singing reality show, does it bring back a lot of memories?

There was a time during the audition when I walked up to the stage and could feel the pulse of the place brimming with competition, tension and dreams. I relate with everything around because I was a contestant once and that was a great experience. Now when I see the same spark and passion in these boys and girls it does bring back a lot of memories.

One thing that people mistake is Meri Awaz Suno was not a reality show. It was a singing competition based completely on judges and not votes. I had participated because I thought if I could manage to clear a couple of rounds, I’d get to see Lataji (Mangeshkar)!

How has it changed when you look at it now?

It’s not a game. It’s still a competition, a real one. We’re searching for the best singer jinko sunke log paagal ho jayenge. Yes, because of the voting system, a few good singers are often left behind but we do have the key to bring back someone who we feel deserve to stay in the competition. Don’t worry we won’t let ourselves lose a good singer.

People have been complaining that the show hasn’t been able to find a good playback singer in the last four seasons... so this time that’s what we intend to do. Once we find that voice the grooming will happen naturally.

This time there’s a blind singer on our show who sings so well that her appearance or inability to see makes no difference to her singing persona.

Have you been consciously staying away from reality shows before this?

I can be open about the fact that the shows I had been seeing on television were absolute drama. It had all those elements that are not required in a musical show. The four or five times that I was made such offers I said ‘no’ out of choice. This time I felt like doing it. My other co-judges are not the kind to create scenes to seek attention. I feel that I can be myself. Peoples’ tears, laughter, fights or bonding are also for real.

How has the chemistry been with the other co-judges?

Superb! With Anuji (Malik) it’s a love-hate relationship. With Salim (Merchant) I’ve done so much work that our friendship has only grown stronger. At other times we hardly get to meet or talk except during recordings because of our busy schedule. Now that we’re on this panel, we’re getting to eat, breathe, talk and laugh together all the time. I’m enjoying myself. A lot of disagreements do happen but then we’re three of us who think differently. But our common focus is finding that one voice that will touch our hearts and that’s where we agree.

Anything specific that you’ll be looking for in the contestants?

Not another Sonu Nigam, Kailash Kher or Sunidhi Chauhan. We’re all here and hope to stay on for another 50 years. No one should try to stand out by emulating their idol. Why would we want another heard voice. I hope someone can race ahead on the strength and style of their own singing.

Is Bollywood still as welcoming for you as it used to be?

Yes, of course. It always has been and I’m sure it always will be if I keep singing the way I have been for all these years.

What about competition?

No competition. I have no competition, I think. I’m just fine and doing a good job. All of us in the industry are doing our own thing, so there’s no competition in that sense. Today you don’t have just five or six singers dominating the playback industry anymore. So many different people are singing and getting heard. Koi bhi kisi se kam nahin.

Some say you might be losing the game to Shreya (Ghoshal). Does that bother you?

Really? That’s news to me. I have nothing to say to that because I’m very happy doing my job. I have some great songs coming my way. The offers might have changed a bit but if you’re a versatile singer you will be able to do a good job.

Shreya’s a beautiful singer who’s doing her thing as well. I never worked on being successful. I worked on being a good singer and being good at that has made me successful. I’m still working on being a better singer. Being called a versatile singer, being popular, knowing people are following me and wanting to be like me still gives me a high.

So what next?

Just films, films and more films and, of course, Indian Idol.

Mohua Das