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June 22, 2000


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'I'll be very asli'

Sonu Nigam Okay, so Hrithik Roshan is the newest heart-throb of India's PYTs. Hero Number 1, if you will. Guess who is Darling Number Two, the second-most-sought-after Bollywood boy? Chocolate-faced-singer-turned-anchorperson- turning-actor Sonu Nigam, that's who. Girls and women, single or otherwise, adore him as much as they swoon over the H(e)-man. For millions of Indian television viewers, Sonu is a familiar figure, thanks to the smashing success of his song show Sa Re Ga Ma.

"I've got 27 offers," he told Suresh Parekh in an interview at the Silver Palace Hotel in Rajkot. For a guy who does not have a single release to his name yet, that is an awesome record. Over to the versatile gent...

Is it true that it is not just females, but film-makers too, who chase you these days?

Yes, that's true. I've received some offers. In fact, I've received 27 film offers. But, to be very frank, I'll be doing only three films. Besides, I also need a lot of time to ponder my acting career.

Why is that?

Since boyhood, I'd always wanted to be a singer. I can't metamorphose into an actor overnight. I need three-four months to make up my mind. Right now, I'm not sure about acting. My singing career is shaping up very well. Maybe, the next three-four months will clear the picture.

And the Tips music company has already signed you on for a movie?

Yes, I've signed two movies, but I've not committed dates to anyone else so far. But I told Tips that, if I do their movie, it will be my first film.

Who is going to direct it?

I wouldn't like to go into details since everything is in the pipeline.

Raj Kanwar?

No. That will be my second film.

Have you set yourself any guidelines for signing films?

I have to, because I believe in quality, not quantity. If you have followed my career so far, then you will know that I've always sung good songs and done quality programmes like Sa Re Ga Ma. So, if I eventually do films, I will definitely look at the banner, director and, above all, the storyline. That should explain why I chose only three out of the 27 films I have been offered.

You have established yourself as a playback singer. Would Sonu, the singer, sing for Sonu, the actor?

Yes, he would I will be singing most of the songs, perhaps all the songs. That's very obvious.

Ramgopal Varma and Sonu Nigam Who will be the music director?

I'm not sure. I don't have any information.

As Sa Re Ga Ma's anchor, yours was a long and busy journey. And now, suddenly, you have decided to move away from it all.

I know Sa Re Ga Ma has done wonders for my career. I achieved fame, status, money, satisfaction and what have you. To be very frank, from the day Sa Re Ga Ma started, I'd prayed to God everyday. It was a challenge for me and I did well. I'm happy with my own performance and its outcome.

Why do you think you were successful? Was it money that inspired you?

Money? Certainly not. Because I was not doing it for the sake of money. I left the programme because I was fed up. I was doing it for the last five years. And this is the sort of programme where you have to say only nice things. So I've to praise everyone in each episode. I did that by changing a few words, but I was saying the same thing in the end. My heart was not in it after a while, that's why I decided to take a break. And, anyway, five years is not a small period.

You have the typical chocolate-boy looks. You should do well as far as the romantic scenes are concerned. But how comfortable will you be in action/stunt scenes?

That's a good question. But, again, I'd say that I myself don't know. I don't have enough self-confidence right now.

Singing and acting. Which of the two are you more comfortable with?

Right now, singing. But I will try my best in the movie too.

How do you see your transition from singing to acting?

I'm asking myself how well I'm doing. Should I act or not? But, again, I'd say that, in the next two-three months, the confusion will clear.

This seems to be the era of Hrithik Roshan, Abhishek Bachchan and the Khans. Does this give you sleepless nights?

I won't be able to answer this question because I've not concentrated 100 per cent on my film career.

When is the work on your first movie going to start?

Not before November.

Are you planning to enroll in any institute for a course in acting?

I know I still have three-four months. I've not decided about it. But yes, I'll discuss the finer points with the experts in the film industry.

Sonu Nigam As an actor, what would your top priority be?

Doing good things in a good way -- that has always been my top priority and will continue to be so in future as well. Not only as an actor but as a singer, anchor and human being. I came to Bombay as a playback singer. I'd like to believe that God has helped me land some great assignments. When I decided to try my hand at anchoring television shows, I got the chance to work for a very good programme. And now, I'm going to do a movie. I hope God will again help me.

What, according to you, was the best aspect of Sa Re Ga Ma?

Perhaps the face-to-face meeting of the newcomers with the legends of the Indian film industry. I think it's a once-in-a-lifetime kind of meeting for many of them. I also took pride that I met with and talked to so many legends during my five year stint. Each show is a memory.

Are you keen on singing the Western type of songs? Or is it the classical segment which interests you?

Classical singing is the best thing, perhaps the ultimate. But I do believe that, if you sing even Western songs with good technique and style, it is very appealing. The connoisseurs too will like it. A good example is my song, Deewana mera... from my album, Jaan.

As a singer, what is your strongest point?

Versatility. See, if you look at songs like What is your mobile number? and Zindagi maut na ban jaaye sambhaalo yaaro, Bijuriya bijuriya and Ye phoolo ki dukaan per gori ka makaan, you will notice that they are quite different from each other. But I think I was at ease in all those songs.

Is this the secret of your success?

No. The secret of my success is God. Success doesn't come through talent only, it comes through God.

If you had not became a singer, what would you be?

A scientist.

Any marriage plans?

In coming four-five years (laughs).

Who is the most beautiful heroine you have seen so far?

I think we have plenty of beautiful heroines. But I like Aishwarya Rai, Marilyn Monroe and Tabu, for her expressions.

Would you like to work with Aishwarya Rai and Tabu?

Yes, why not?

Who is your all-time favourite actor?

Amitabh Bachchan. I'm a great fan of Sanjeev Kumar and Dilip Kumar too.

Would you choose any of them as your role model?

No. I think that is not fair. I'd try to be natural, myself. Even in the Sa Re Ga Ma show, I was very natural. Let me tell you that, in my acting career, I'll be very asli.

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