e is all over the air waves today.
He is the voice of every big hero, whether it is Shah Rukh Khan (Kal ho na ho, Kal Ho Naa Ho), Aamir (Tanhai, Dil Chahta Hai), Vivek Oberoi (Makhmali badan, Road), or Salman Khan (Just chill, Maine Pyar Kyun Kiya).
Of the current lot of singers, only a handful have distinct voices. Sonu Nigam is definitely one of them.
Sonu had to struggle for years despite vocalising an impressive Achcha sila diya tune mere pyar ka for Bewafaa Sanam in the nascent stages of his career.
He was also one of the most popular judges at Sony Television's reality show, Indian Idol, at which Abhijeet Sawant emerged winner. It is no surprise, of course, that Abhijeet's role model is Sonu.
The amiable singer is magnanimous enough to give tips to budding singers so that they, unlike him, can invest their energies in singing rather than struggling for a break!
Sonu's 10 tips for struggling singers
1. First and foremost, I would advise an aspiring singer to stop criticising others.
The more you criticise others, the more you find faults in others, the more you envelop yourself in a negative aura.
2. The attitude, "Arre yaar, yeh kya gaata hai, isse achcha toh main gata hoon (What does he sing? I sing better than him)," reeks of overconfidence.
That can be a singer's undoing.
3. Keep an open heart.
Believe in yourself and everything will happen by itself.
4. Riyaaz karna zaroori hai (It is important to practise), but unless you stop finding faults in others, you will not be sincere in your riyaaz.
Find the likeable qualities in your idol (whether it is Adnan Sami, Lucky Ali, Udit Narayan or Kumar Sanu). Look at their positive attributes. Inculcate them into your art.
5. If you want to be able to yodel like Kishore Kumar, you have to notice that quality in him.
Be observant, keep your ears open.
6. Participate in shows like Indian Idol if you get the opportunity.
When I started, I gave myself four years to make it in the industry.
But today, anonymous people like Amit Sana or Abhijeet Sawant can become stars in a month. You are offered an excellent platform that makes you famous and helps showcase your talent to millions.
Also, once recognised, you can earn lakhs of rupees. Most important, you get a host of opportunities.
7. An upcoming singer has to keep up with the times.
Sure, everybody can't dance or claim to look handsome -- it is not in your hands.
But having a positive attitude on stage works for you.
I don't think any of the singers in Indian Idol were ravishingly good-looking -- they were average to good-looking -- but they stood out because of their singing prowess and confidence.
8. The more genuine you look and sound, the easier it is to touch peoples' hearts.
If you claim to be humble when you are not, you will ring a false note.
9. I eat oily and cold stuff, I don't do much parhez (restrict myself from forbidden stuff).
If you want to, fine, but riyaaz is more important. It tones your voice.
10. It is not wrong to begin by copying your idol.
Lataji (Mangeshkar) was inspired by Noorjehan, Ashaji (Bhonsle) by Geeta Dutt, Mukeshji and Kishoreda by (K L)Saigal, Rafisaab by S M Durrani.
As for me, I copied everyone, from Rafisaab to Kishoreda to Manna Da to Lataji.
Those who begin by copying others and then find their own individual voice establish their versatility.
Those who begin as individual voices often find it difficult to vary their voices.
I think with Kal Ho Naa Ho, I have found my voice. In the past too, there have been songs where I sound cent per cent original, but I would rate Kal ho na ho as a prominent song.