Interview By: ROHAN A. SAWANT
He is fun to talk with, he is bold and straightforward. He is just as energetic as his songs and he can keep on talking about anything that you ask him about. Donned in the latest fashion clothing with some quirky hairstyle he is all cool but yet matured in his own way as he gets along. So in a brief chat with Sukhiji, in his own studio in a chilly air-conditioned atmosphere, he will just open up with you the minute the camera rolls. Excerpts:
“I am not a legend, I am just an entertainer”
So tell us what exactly is happening for you currently now that you are cherishing ‘Aye Sultan’s’ success?
Right now the things are happening very well. For me music is there which I regard as everything that is important for me. When I am surrounded with music or when music surrounds me I think everything is just fine for me!
Do you think ‘Chaiyya Chaiyya’ song from ‘Dil Se’ was the inception point of your career in Bollywood?
Definitely yes! Chaiyya Chaiyya was a very important song for me in my personal and professional career. In our industry, if there is someone who can do anything and everything for you then that person is called as Godfather and I consider Mr. A. R. Rahman as my musical Godfather. I had been listening to these stories since my childhood in Dargah’s from saints, of Peer Baba Bulleh Shah I would get mesmerized. So when I took all of these things to Mr. A. R. Rahman, he was flabbergasted and he hugged me hard and kissed me on my forehead. The next day we met Gulzar sahab and the way A. R. Rahman designed the song was just too phenomenal and eventually we all go ‘Chaiyya Chaiyya’ what we hear today. One of the best dancing number of my careers; I have many others as well but ‘Chaiyya Chaiyya’ tops the list and always will. In due course I got ‘Chak De!’ which went on to become a nation sports oriented song.
So is it that you prefer dance numbers?
I love dancing. I have this tendency of dancing so I guess that is why I have done pacey tracks a lot. I try maintaining melody into every kind of song. Be it ‘Chak De India’ ‘Dabangg’, ‘Singham’ or now ‘Sultan’. So my effort is to maintain the melody but I love dance.
Having said this on the other side you have also done some soothing and calm songs in your career, so how do you strike this balance?
What happens is that in our industry, actor, actress, singers or any performer never order anyone. We always take orders from the makers; and our captain in all this the story of the film. For a singer the important thing here is the character on which the song will be picturized. The poetry makes it easy for us along with composer’s compositions.
In today’s times we hear songs have very less vocals and more of music in it, which is not something which was 4-5 years down the line whereas that is not the case about your songs. So what is your take on this trend that has started up?
There’s this sentence that I firmly believe in which is, ‘The world is only meant for special people and special people are very few.’ I feel that only special people are those where you can listen to lyrics, vocals, different kind of musical instruments and many other minute things but on the other hand where you only want to serve aggression through music that is time you hide yourself with loads of music. So basically it is not everyone’s cup of tea not because they are useless, it is because their cup of tea is something else. I feel such people are not related to the field of music at all. They are in this industry forcefully or due to attraction; it isn’t passion. A good singer need not do much of hairdo or have a muscular body to be famous; if the singing is good they will get famous due to their content. When you see Lataji, you automatically get into the melody; which is only due to the content and not anything else. Also conviction should be there in any artist and you should have the entertainment factor within to be famous. ‘Ek deewana he dusro ko deewana kar sakta hai; jo khud deewana nahi wo kuch nahi kar sakta!
You have sung songs in Hindi, Punjabi, Marathi, Tamil language. So to get the perfection and pronunciation right for every word what is your homework for that?
My first song was not ‘Chaiyya Chaiyya’ with Rahman, my first song with him was in Tamil. So basically when I get an opportunity to sing a song in such language which we don’t speak at all, someone has to sit beside me to correct me accent wise. Same is the case with Punjabi songs as well. Marathi language is very easy for me because I have been staying in Maharashtra and it is my hometown. So when I got this opportunity, I looked at Rahman in utter shock! I tried telling him that I am not a magician and a musician; but he stuck to his ground and he forced me into it. So from that moment onwards I started doing one thing at one single time and once you understand the meaning of each word that you will be singing, the job becomes easier. So singing a different language song can be tough, but if you sing from your heart then even if the accent is not 100% perfect, people will accept it. If suppose I concentrate too much on the language, I might leave the fragrance part of the song behind!
From the time you have started with your career in Bollywood till now, have you had a second thought about any song which you heard after you sang and the song is out for listeners?
Those who belong from the field of entertainment never are restless and have second thoughts about their product. When you get a song to sing, you have to make sure that you sing the song with ease and from your heart. If you can’t do so, you won’t get the entertainment factor in you; and till the time you don’t get this factor within you, you cannot sing a song. If I am singing any tragedy song, I need not be in a tragedy to feel the song. I just have to make sure that I am all at ease to feel every word that I sing and when I do that completely listeners will feel every word of it. Luckily I have done that successfully so far and I am saying it on the basis of the reactions that I get for my songs.
Is that the reason people regard you as a living legend?
I belong from the field of entertainment and I love entertaining people and that is why I can never be a legend. There have been artists who are living legends. They have for years done the work of entertaining audiences and have been regarded as legends alongside. But when it comes to me, I can only do one thing at a time and I prefer entertaining over been called as a legend. There are living legends in our country in the form of Lataji and Ashaji and they deserve this status. Lataji is an example of music and Ashaji is an example of practice. So for me those 2 are singing legends and will always be and I will always be an entertainer.
If we go through your work, you have been less as a composer and much as a singer. Why have you kept this approach?
Mere se nahi hota! It is not that I don’t love composition, I am very passionate about composing but I prefer being an independent composer and not as a composer for films. I did very few films as a composer but few. I try concentrating on filmy songs much and on entertainment.
It seems like the word ‘Entertainment’ has a very high regard in your life.
Yes! Every artist has one specialty. Just for an example when I am having food, there might be 50 various types of dishes served. But I will only eat what I like which is Daal, Roti and Makkhan. There is always one thing that you will like the most; this does not mean that you dislike every other thing. Just like when I get a dancing number to sing, I know that it is my forte so I will enjoy singing it. But on the same side I have also sang songs which are sad ones. So when I get any song to sing, I get it because the makers or the composers feel that I can justify the song and provide the entertainment factor to it. The one who can understand can do it or else they just cannot.
So now keeping the entertainment factor in mind, tell us how are you going to keep us entertained this year?
There are 2 films that are releasing this soon out of which ‘Love Ke Funday’ film has dancing numbers which I like the most. Now every film cannot have big stars in it or has a big production house, but has a very good story. There is this one more film ‘Laali Ki Shaadi Mein Laddoo Deewana’ which has some beautiful songs which I have sung and the film will be releasing soon. I have one genius composer with me named Vishal Bhardwaj with whom I am doing some songs for ‘Rangoon.’ There is this one more music director that I met because of Mahesh Manjrekar called Vishal Mishra. I have signed a Marathi film ‘F.U’ which Mahesh Majrekar is directing and it has Akshay Thosar in lead role, who also was the lead in ‘Sairat.’ There is also one film called ‘Praman’ where again Vishal Mishra is the music director. The way ‘Dil Se’ had a complete package of songs, this film ‘Praman’ also has the same musical package. I also have composed one bhajan about Hanumanji which I have kept for myself, but I will be soon releasing the song for public. So these are the things that are confirm as off now and let’s hope that I get many more projects like this and that I keep entertaining everyone as always!