By Ruchika Kher
Mumbai, July 29 (IANS) Singer Sonu Nigam, who has been in the industry for almost two decades and will celebrate his 38th birthday Saturday, says his resolution is to take time off and invest in his personal life.
"I'll be in Nairobi on my birthday because I have a concert there. My family will also be with me," Sonu told IANS in an interview.
"I would want to give myself some time this year. I have worked a lot in the year gone by. I want to go to the mountains or the beaches and just chill out and spend time with my family. I could not do that last year. Besides everything else personal space is a big requirement for me and I would like to give it to myself. I need some 'my' time," he added.
Sonu, who married Madhurima in 2002 and has a three-year-old son Nevaan, revealed that 2010 had been one of the best years of his career.
"Last year has been one of the best years of my life because so much happened in this one year that it was difficult to keep a count. Last year I was in Los Angeles on my birthday and at that time I was about to start 'Chhote Ustaad' on Star Plus. The whole season was so great and fulfilling.
"Then I did so many concerts. The best part was my performances at the award shows. That earned me a lot of appreciation from everyone. My comic timing was appreciated and also my acting and singing skills. Then the tremendous success of 'X Factor' and my first single 'Let's go for glory' for ICC World Cup got me acclaim.
"Apart from that, my performance with Jermaine Jackson at IIFA and Britney Spears collaboration - all that happened last year. So it was quite an eventful year."
Sonu began his singing career at the age of three, when he joined his father on stage singing Mohammad Rafi songs and also accompanying him on his singing appearances at weddings and parties. At the age of 19, he moved to Mumbai with his father to begin his Bollywood singing career.
His initial years in Mumbai proved to be a struggle - he started by singing covers of Mohammad Rafi songs in albums released by T-Series and after some time he was labelled a "Rafi clone".
His first film break was for a song in the film "Janam" (1990), but it never got an official release. Meanwhile Sonu took up radio commercials until his big break came in the form of popular TV show "Sa Re Ga Ma", after which success has been constantly knocking on his doors.
He started hosting "Sa Re Ga Ma" in 1995, which soon became one of the most popular shows on Indian television. The format of the show gave Sonu a chance to showcase his singing skills as well as his natural charm and audience appeal.
Then his song "Accha sila diya" for the film "Bewafa Sanam" (1995) boosted his popularity and singing offers started pouring in.
He rose to fame with composer Anu Malik's song "Sandese aate hain" from the 1997 war movie "Border" and it helped him get rid of 'Rafi Clone' tag and in the same year he crooned Nadeem-Shravan composed chartbuster "Yeh dil deewana" ("Pardes"). Since then, he has created a unique style of his own.
Over the years Sonu has become a major force in the Indian music industry. He is recognised for his versatility in singing and his excellent range by singing romantic, rock, sad and patriotic numbers.
Some of his popular numbers are "Ishq Bina" ("Taal"), "Panchhi nadiyaan" ("Refugee"), "Suraj hua maddham" ("Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham"), "Kal ho naa ho" ("Kal Ho Naa Ho"), "Main hoon na" ("Main Hoon Na") and "Shukran allah" ("Kurbaan") among many others.
He didn't limit himself to Hindi songs - his body of work has songs in Kannada, Bengali, Oriya, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, English, Bhojpuri, Urdu, Nepali, Chhattisgarhi and Marathi.
Looking back from where he started and where he has reached, Sonu became sentimental and said: "I couldn't have wished for anything more. When I started I didn't know that being a singer I will be recognized. People will stop me at signals and knock on the windows of my car. I've been given so much love that its amazing.
"I just came here to become a playback singer and the fame, love and adulation that I have received is amazing. I'm really thankful to the almighty and the people who love me and bless me," he added.