His voice has been heard the world over in the Oscar winning song ‘Jai Ho’ from the Oscar Best Film winner Slumdog Millionaire. However, even before what Sukhwinder Singh calls the success of this “blessed song” he was and is one of the Hindi film industry’s best playback singers. Since his debut song ‘Chaiyaan Chaiyaan’ from Dil Se in 1998, you have heard him on some of the biggest soundtracks including Chak De India, Om Shanti Om, Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na as well as the recent films Fashion, Bachna Ae Haseeno and Rab Ne Baba Di Jodi and that is just the tip of the iceberg of the big film soundtracks he has contributed to over his acclaimed career. Singh excels at all forms of music and his range and the power of his voice is what makes him so outstanding. Besides the depth of his talent, it is also the emotion and incredible energy that he puts in every song he sings that truly makes him special. Though incredibly busy recording for his next projects Sukwinder Singh took some time out to answer some questions for BollySpice and gave some wonderful answers! So sit back and enjoy getting to know the fabulous Sukhwinder Singh!
How did you become a singer…what was your journey like?
Sukhwinder Singh: Since I was small, I knew that either I will be an athlete or I will take singing as a profession. I was a very good runner and my timing was excellent. If I had stayed on that, I would have definitely gone on to the international level. But singing was beckoning me more strongly. I had cut my first album Munda Southhaal Da when I was in London. It was a great success but to establish myself in the film industry as a playback singer, took much longer. For that I will be grateful to Lakshmikant Pyarelal ji and Rahman. Both have played important roles in giving me the take off in this industry.
What do you believe is your greatest strength as a singer?
Sukhwinder Singh: Faith in God, faith in my composer and faith in myself. God has been very kind to me and given me the voice that I have. Plus the ability to understand music is another blessing. I am a very good listener too, and this quality is very important to be a good singer. If you can listen then you can understand and once you understand you can deliver too.
What makes you a good playback singer?
Sukhwinder Singh: (laughs) Thank you for the compliment. And this is the reason of my being the good singer, because people like listening to my songs. My fans are the ones who have made me into a good singer. Then I believe humility is something that keeps you rooted to the ground and naturally your creative output also will have similar aura around it. I also believe in constant learning process.
What are the disadvantages of being a playback singer?
Sukhwinder Singh: None to my knowledge. Disadvantage comes when you don’t understand or enjoy your work. And it can be in any field, why pick only playback singing?
What are your three favourite songs you have performed?
Sukhwinder Singh: It is so difficult because I enjoyed singing all of them. Why don’t you do this for me?
Since I could not pick just three I polled the staff here at BollySpice and they too found this very tough but our top 3 were ‘Chaiyan Chaiyan’ – Dil Se, ‘Ramta Jogi’ – Taal and ‘Jai Ho’ – Slumdog Millionaire. However, we really could not limit it to 3 and also making our list were ‘Jaane Tu Meri Kya Hai’ – Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, ‘Fashion Ka Jalwa’ – Fashion, ‘Maahi Ve’ – Kaante, ‘Jai Jai Money’ – Apna Sapna Money Money and ‘Phir Raat Kati’ – Paheli.
Is there a song you’ve sung that you didn’t think got its due?
Sukhwinder Singh: Can’t recall any.
Who are your three favourite composers/writers?
Sukhwinder Singh: A very tricky question. Let me put it another way. I only work with the composers and writers who are my favourites.
How much of your career do you think you owe to AR Rahman?
Sukhwinder Singh: Rahman had put me on the train with ‘Chaiyan Chaiyan’ and that train is still going strong. He heard me when nobody else was willing to hear me, so he did give me my platform.
Tell us what winning the Oscar for ‘Jai Ho’ means to you. Has it changed your life?
Sukhwinder Singh: Jai Ho means success be yours and that is what it has meant for me too, personally and professionally. I think it was a blessed song. Something that was meant to be a winner. It has definitely given me the pleasure of seeing Rahman on international platform with the trophy.
How do you feel about the Pussycat Dolls version?
Sukhwinder Singh: Nothing. I have yet to hear it. Can not comment without listening to it, wouldn’t be right.
How did you feel when Chaiye Chaiye features in the Spike Lee movie Inside Man?
Sukhwinder Singh: Feeling was great because that was first international exposure in a movie for a song sung by me. I had rerecorded the song for Inside Man. Earlier too, I had cut this album ‘Munda South Hall Da’, which was well received by the Indian audience overseas.
What song, be it one you sung or by another artist, that really inspires you?
Sukhwinder Singh: The song ‘Tere Naam Ka Diwana’ by Rafi Sahib. It was in the film Suraj Chanda. Since a young age this song has been inspiring me to be a singer. I must have sung it umpteenth times. In fact I had even recorded it in my own voice for my personal listening. I also find another song of Rafi ji inspires me – ‘Tum jo mil gaye’.
Which actors do you like to sing for?
Sukhwinder Singh: (laughs). Most of the time I don’t even know the name of the artiste my song will be picturised on. I only listen to the poetry and the music and that gives me the idea of the story line. I sing as per the mood of the song. There is no question of any favourite stars. My star is the lyricist and music director.
Who are your favourite playback singers or musical artists?
Sukhwinder Singh: Vishal Bharadwaj is really good. Vishal Shekhar, Salim Suleman, A R Rahman are also very good. Asha Ji (Bhosle) is one of my favourite singers.
Who’s your favourite female singer to do a duet with?
Sukhwinder Singh: How can I choose? It’s the prerogative of the music director and producer.
What do you thing about the use of English lyrics?
Sukhwinder Singh: In Hindi films? Well, it’s a different music genre all together. Although I feel that poetry is the main soul of a song. And Gulzar sahib got the Oscar for the lyrics of a Hindi Song, which proves the strength of Hindi poetry. I prefer Hindi songs but sometimes English lyrics goes well with the scene and situation.
You have also worked as a composer. What has been your favourite song or soundtrack you have composed so far? Are you working on other projects as a composer?
Sukhwinder Singh: From amongst my own, ‘Chal Chal Mere Sang Sang’ is my favourite composition. Next project is a music album under my own composition.
Where do you see Indian music heading in the future?
Sukhwinder Singh: Upwards.
Has your role in Ahista Ahista prompted you to consider more on-screen roles?
Sukhwinder Singh: I don’t think so. I have been seen on screen very less. It depends on the producer and story of the film. I can not decide to create roles for me. But I am not averse to facing the camera.
What plans do you have for the future?
Sukhwinder Singh: Music and still more music. Or maybe acting too.
We here at BollySpice and all fans of Bollywood music certainly cannot wait to hear Sukhwinder Singh’s “music and still more music” and know we will be treated to some fabulous songs! And of course say Jai Ho (success be yours)!