Dubai is my favourite place, says Sunidhi Chauhan
Singer set to return to live shows with a Dubai concert on August 27
When hit Netflix coming-of-age drama Never Have I Ever’s Maitreyi Ramakrishnan (Devi Vishwakumar) and costar Richa Moorjani (Kamala) wanted to bond outside work, guess what they did? Groove to one of Bollywood’s most sultry item numbers, the iconic Sheila Ki Jawani, rendered by Sunidhi Chauhan from the 2010 hit film Tees Maar Khan.
With over 1 million views and counting the duo’s sizzling dance routine to the chart busting Bollywood number is testimony to the timeless appeal of Chauhan’s melodious voice. But the award-winning singer is humility personified when we bring this to her attention, acknowledging she had not seen it and promising to check out the performance that went viral as soon as the duo put it out on their social media platforms.
“If that has received such a great response then I’m very happy,” she tell us over a recent Zoom call. “It only adds more age and more years to my work. Thank you for sharing that with me!”
The modern music industry, worldwide as well as in India, has often been accused of sacrificing melody at the altar of viral hits that often don’t last beyond the current club season.
However, Sunidhi’s voice has an ageless charm that has seen many of her hit numbers from yore still retain their freshness. Be it the sizzling Crazy Kiya Re from Dhoom, the peppy Dilliwaali Girlfriend, the melodious Chor Bazaari (Love Aaj Kal) or the playful Kaisi Paheli Zindagi (Parineeti) the romantic Ishq Sufiyana, there is a Sunidhi Chauhan song for every momentous occasion in life today.
“In concerts I have made sure that I make these songs sound new and current always,” she tells us. Anyone who has heard her onstage rendition of Mast (1999) will bear testimony to this.
“But I would like to give all credit to my composers, it is their tunes; it is Vishal-Shekhar with Sheila Ki Jawani; it is Vishal Bharadwaj ji for Beedi (Omkara) or Pritam for Dhoom Machale. I have been so lucky to have so many chart busters and like you said they still have a place, people still want to dance to them and remake them. All these songs have got an evergreen quality and I’m so happy that I’m a part of these.”
Live in Dubai
Sunidhi marks her return to the stage after nearly a year with her Dubai concert Beintehaa at the Coca-Cola Arena on Friday, August 27. She last performed live in February 2020.
“I haven’t ever performed in a live gig (after that). I’m super excited that I’m getting to do this in Dubai. It is my favourite place and I love to perform for the Dubai audience. They are brilliant, they are so enthusiastic and they just love every kind of song and enjoy to the fullest. I’m looking forward to performing for them!”
The voice behind many of Bollywood’s greatest hits over the years, Sunidhi has taken her lyrical numbers across the world. As someone who started performing from a very young age, what is her ideal audience? “I’ve been lucky to have a great audience almost everywhere I have performed,” she says. “People just love me for me, they love to see me enjoying on stage with my music. It's the vibe basically.”
She says while she doesn’t plan ahead on how to interact with the audience or how she will sing a particular song, she prefers to “go with the flow.”
“I make sure they feel engaged with me. I make sure they are entertained, so it is the exchange that makes it all look so amazing.”
She adds that she doesn’t get offended even if she notices someone in the audience is distracted. “They have all the right to enjoy the show the way they want to.” She points out what she likes the most about Dubai audience is that - “they respond to the songs pretty well.”
When Sunidhi went ‘berserk’
Sunidhi started singing at the age of four and went on to perform in live events as well as Bollywood playbacks from a young age. As a 12-year-old girl who came into national limelight when she won the musical reality show Meri Awaz Suno, she has literally grown up in the music industry.
Unlike the previous generation today singers no longer just need to be heard, they need to be seen and project themselves as a complete entertainment package, be it strutting their stuff on stage or appearing in their own glam videos.
Looking back at her younger days in the industry, Sunidhi says from the moment she started doing stage shows she has always enjoyed herself.
“At first I never used to move a lot or dance because I was very shy,” she admits. “But that slowly got better when I turned 14-15 and then I just totally lost the plot after I started singing my own songs (with a laugh) on stage.
“When Mast happened I just went berserk! There is a dancer in me. I always wanted to become a dancer. If I was not a singer I probably would have ended up being a dancer. So I think the combination of my own songs that are sung by me and me on stage just made it all happen.
During the pandemic while movie shoots might have been at a standstill behind the scenes work was on for a lot of film projects.
Sunidhi had a few solos releasing during the time as well including the melodious Kuchh Khwaab with Daboo Malik in October 2020, Ye Ranjishein, Beautiful, a collaboration with Shalmali Kholgade that even made it into the Times Square Billboard, and the latest Ishq Tera Mera with Hridhay Gattani. “I realise that during the lockdown so many things just happened like that (clicks her fingers). There was no thinking involved, no preparation, it was purely for the love of music, we just went ahead and did these things.”
Having started in a cutthroat industry at such a young age, we were curious to know how Sunidhi kept herself mentally strong. It couldn’t have been an easy ride with the competition and the insecurities that come with being in a profession where you are in the limelight all the time.
“I think I still haven’t forgotten where I have come from - how it all started,” she admits. “I think that just doesn’t leave me. Maybe that’s the reason why I’m able to be steady. I can proudly say that I stay unaffected with things that could affect an artist.
"The times are changing in the music industry and you cannot always please all the people, but if you have a calm and composed mind and if you know yourself enough, which I think I do, then you can survive.
“And I want to give a lot of credit to the people I live with - my husband, my mother-in-law, dad, mom, my child. They are just wonderful to be around. I don’t have to think of anything but just me and my music and my family.”
What’s Sunidhi going to sing at the show?
I know my audience really likes to hear me sing Aa Zara (Murder 2) on stage. Then of course Kaisi Paheli (Parineeti). Mast was the very first big song that I came out with. Then Beedi, Sheila Ki Jawani and Swing (Dil Dhadakne Do).
Also my romantic songs - Mere Haath Mein from Fanaa, Bhaage Re Mann from Chameli, Mainu Ishq Tera Lae Dooba (Aiyaary) Halka Halka (Fanney Khan)…
Catch Sunidhi Chauhan live at the Beintehaa show at Coca-Cola Arena on Friday, August 27. The show is part of Dubai Summer Surprises' events and produced by Blu Blood. Tickets for show available through Dubai Calendar, coca-cola-arena.com and PlatinumList