Dynamite diva Sunidhi Chauhan has been igniting Indian cinema with her explosive vocals ever since she was a teenager and lighting up stages around the world with eye-catching live performances.
The singer has also made a name for herself as a reality TV judge and is now foraying into acting. Although Sunidhi has a lot going on, the biggest high the playback star gets is being in front of a live audience. Arguably among the best and most versatile live performers, she sings, dances and entertains audience with her winning personality.
Perhaps the only A-list Bollywood singer to sing and dance, Sunidhi is returning to UK later this month for shows in London and Leicester.
Eastern Eye caught up with the softly spoken star to talk about her amazing journey, forthcoming shows, the art of performing live and her acting ambitions.
You continue to maintain an incredibly high standard. What keeps the passion so strong?
Thank you very much, Asjad. The key is that I just have a great time on stage. When I am meeting people, when I am at appearances, maybe I am wearing a mask and not myself. But I feel when I am on stage I am the most of myself. That is a great feeling and that is what conveys to people, and they love watching it.
You are like a firework on stage, but are you like that in real life?
Well I am like that inside, but I don’t show it much because you can’t be like that all the time. I am just a normal person. People do say that I look a little reserved. I look like I don’t talk much. But that is not true. People who know me, know that I am a friendly person and love to talk.
Does it become more difficult to remember the words to songs because you have so many now?
(Laughs) Since the time I started, even when I didn’t have my own songs, I never looked at the paper in front of me. I never read and sang on stage because that would come in my way of performing. Whether I remember the song or not, I would never look at the lyrics and sing. (Laughs) Maybe I would make up some lyrics on stage spontaneously, but I would never look at the paper.
For me, you are the best Bollywood live performer. What is the secret of a great live performance?
Thanks so much, that is sweet of you to say. Like I said, if you can have a good time always and not treat it like just another show, but realise that this is the best time of your life. You are here to entertain people, you are there to watch them smile, sing along and dance with you. That is the best thing you can do because when people come they have paid for that show. When people spend their money, you should give them full value. That doesn’t run in my mind all the time, but I just know that I have a great time on stage and that conveys to audiences.
How much are you looking forward to returning to the UK?
I am super-excited! The last time I went there was 2013 and my gig was at the Royal Albert Hall. It was one of the most magical shows of my entire life. I will always remember it and have such fond memories. So I am super-thrilled to come back to the UK and perform at SSE Arena, Wembley, and De Montfort Hall in Leicester and can’t wait.
What can we expect from the shows this time?
I will be singing all my songs which have released recently. They will be a part of the show along with, of course, some of the older songs that people love. There will also be some retro songs. We will choose some great songs in terms of musicality. Since I am that type of person who keeps growing and wants do something different each time, I am going to try my best to make sure it is definitely better than the last time.
You are the only one who dances out of the Bollywood singers and you do it really well. How much do you practice that aspect?
The dancing which you see on stage just comes from within. It is not really choreographed or thought about or practiced before. The truth is that I love dancing. I would love to perform a proper set for people and I am thinking about doing that in this show in London. So I am working on that. That does need a lot of practice. (Laughs) Thanks for reminding me, Asjad. I am going to go practice and make sure that I do a little choreographed sequence of dance, which will be nice.
I always love your outfits on stage. How do you select them?
Well, I am not a very brand-conscious person. I just pick up something I really like and somehow know what is going to look good on me, what I can relate to. I just pick up stuff according to that and I am glad people like that about me. I don’t put a lot of effort into that, but it somehow gets attention and that is great.
Everybody has a favourite Sunidhi Chauhan song. Which is yours?
That is an impossible question to answer, but I can tell you my latest favourite, which is from the film Befikre, is Je T’aime. That is quite close to my heart and is a very simple, romantic song. The simplicity of it is so beautiful and I love that song.
You have a global fan base and every Bollywood fan knows who Sunidhi Chauhan is. How much does that adulation mean to you?
Oh it means so much. I mean everybody wants to be a global artist, right? So when people tweet me from around the world or leave Facebook messages, or the audience having a good time it is a very overwhelming feeling. A couple of months ago I posted a small video singing an English song (Fallin’) by Alicia Keys. I got this beautiful tweet from someone (I don’t know where he was from) who sang alongside with me, doing the harmonies and sent me the video with his vocals in it. It was beautiful. So it is great to know that you have access to so many people and they are not just Indians.
I have been interviewing you for 15 years and you are still the same despite being a global star. What keeps you so grounded?
It might sound clichéd, but the truth is it is all your love. The child in me, the 16-year-old, is still sitting there and she just gets excited each time she is given a song to sing. She just gets super-thrilled when she is about to go on stage. There is also this anxiety all the time. I don’t treat any show just like another show. It is everything for me. Only I know how much I put in. I put in my 2,000 per cent and feel this moment is never gonna come back. I just have to make the most of it, and if I do that then people will make the most of it too.
I loved that you acted in a short film and talked about doing a fully-fledged movie. Have you found a project yet?
I am looking forward to doing some really good roles. I have been reading a few scripts and haven’t yet made up my mind about them, but yes, there is some interesting work that has come my way. I am really happy about that because I never thought I could act or do acting. It was only after experiencing that short film that I realised I do have that (acting) bug within me. I want to do it with my 100 per cent heart. Now I know that I can do both (singing and acting) I think I can balance them equally. I am absolutely ready and looking forward to some good roles. As soon as I find one, I will definitely do it.
You have done some epic duets, but who do you love singing with?
I always enjoy singing with Sukhwinder-jee (Singh). He is my favourite! Another favourite is KK. There are so many people. I have a rapport with everyone one I sing with. It all depends on which song, but I have a great time singing with all of them.
Finally, why do you love music?
I don’t just love music, I am all about music. My being is music. I live and breathe music.
Sunidhi Chauhan will be performing at SSE Arena, Wembley, in London on February 25 and De Montfort Hall in Leicester on February 26. Log onto www.rockonmusicuk.com to find out more.