Sunidhi Chauhan is all set to rock the stage at Netaji Indoor Stadium in a live concert organised by Forum for Durgotsab on February 5. A day before the big show, the “queen of stage performances” chatted with My Kolkata about Kolkata, music and more.
My Kolkata: You are going to perform at the Forum for Durgotsab’s event at Netaji Indoor Stadium. What about performing in Kolkata excites you?
Sunidhi Chauhan: It’s always amazing to perform in Kolkata because the audience here understands music pretty well. They even sing so well! And when I ask them to sing along, they sing so well that I feel like only listening to them. People of this part of India are very much musically inclined. Also, the audience here is very welcoming and they are open to all genres. So here I also sing soft numbers and they appreciate it! I have performed here before also and even sang Rabindrasangeet. I find the audience here very attentive. They listen to the music and feel it. When it comes to art, culture and music, people here give them high value.
Since it is a gig by Forum for Durgotsab committee and Durga Puja holds much importance in the city, have you ever been to Kolkata during that time?
No. Sadly, I haven’t had a chance to be in Kolkata during Durga Puja. But it’s funny that you asked because we are planning to come to the city this year during Puja. I have heard that it is a big affair and it’s crazy. I have heard so much about how people celebrate it for days. Long nights of celebration, lots of food and madness! I have heard about all of this from one of my aunts who is from Kolkata. Since then it has gotten into me. This year definitely I have some serious plans.
When in Kolkata, is there any favourite place you go to? What is your favourite food from Kolkata?
Honestly, I haven’t been able to explore the city at all. I have heard so much about it but sadly I have been here for gigs, stayed in hotel rooms, performed and left. But if I can go around the city some day, I would love to try out some Chinese food here. I have heard about China Town. Also, maybe I would like to visit the Indian Museum someday. It would be nice to know what the real Kolkata is like!
‘It would be nice to know what the real Kolkata is like!,’ Sunidhi saysTT Archives
Coming to the food, I love bhetki, the fish fry! I just love it. Also, sandesh and, yes rosogolla. You don’t get such perfect rosogolla anywhere in the world. Also, phuchka is something I love. A few months ago, when I was performing at Bankim Chandra College in Kolkata, I tasted phuchka and fell in love with it. Also, Kolkata’s jhalmuri. I think it can go on and on because I am a foodie. I want to eat everything but I am trying to refrain from that. Only healthy food for a while now.
Tell us about your journey of motherhood. Also, you have worked on your fitness in the past couple of years. Tell us a little about that.
The journey of motherhood has been the same like anybody else’s. But yes, I feel the best thing of my life has happened now. It changes you as a person and you start looking at life from a different perspective. As you become a mother, you become more sensitive and responsible. For me, life hasn’t changed much but I feel more loved every day because of my son. I also want to give more love.
About the fitness journey, honestly I was not paying much attention to it until he (her son) turned four and a half. There was no fitness regime. I was lazy and I thought I’ll be back in shape in some days. But it hit me when I realised I was getting tired on stage in between my performances. I perform like a maniac, I dance on stage and go crazy. But that was tiring me out. I understood that was not me. So it happened that one day I took the challenge and started working out and eating healthy. I wanted to perform better, feel light on stage and feel free to wear anything. That’s how it happened to me.
Your performance at IIT Kharagpur a few days ago was electrifying.
We have been performing at IITs for sometime now. We have covered 6-7 IITs already. And it’s just not about IITs, any college for that matter is exciting for me because of the young energy. It’s wonderful to see how today’s generation also resonates with me. I still feel like the same young person I was when I started off my career in 1994. The vibe matches with the young crowd and that makes me feel incredible. It is always great to perform at colleges and universities.
You started your career in a reality show performing live and you do a lot of tours for live shows. What do you love about performing in front of an audience (as opposed to playback and singing for albums)?
I love everything about live shows—in spite of the travelling, lack of sleep and tiredness. There’s a lot of fun involved in a live show. We now have dancers on stage, lighting, LED screens and the atmosphere is so full of energy. It is wonderful to see people groove. The best part is that we are a team. Me and my orchestra are on one page and we are always looking forward to improvising, and upgrading ourselves. Everybody is willing to get better and ready to create memories for people. Before a stage show, we discuss our ideas and try to make it more creative. Each and every person involved in the gig does play one’s role well and that’s what makes every concert unique.
Which songs do you get the most requests for from the crowd at concerts?
Well, the list is all long! Mehboob mere, Bumbro, Sajnaji Vari vari, Saaki Saaki, Kaisi paheli, Beedi are some of the frequently requested songs.
(L-R) Stills from Sunidhi's popular hits 'Sajnaji Vari Vari', 'Bumbro' and 'Kaisi paheli'
As we know, a tribute will be offered to KK. You have sung together in various hit songs. What is your fondest memory of working with KK?
I used to go insane with KK on stage and I will never forget the few shows we have done together. Those were very special shows because when we sang together, we really sang ‘together’. What mostly happens in shows where two artistes are performing, is that they do their thing individually and most of the time they don’t do it together. But with KK, the shows happened naturally because of the liking we had for each other. We had mutual respect and admiration.
'I used to go insane with KK on stage and I will never forget the few shows we have done together,' says SunidhiFacebook
I am personally a fan of KK. So much so that I would love to be a little bit of KK. The kind of emotions he put into his songs was so natural. KK never had to put an effort to be natural. He sang from his heart and that’s what I believe in too. I sing from the heart or I don’t sing.
You collaborated with Sourendro-Soumyojit on the Rabindrasangeet album Tagore & We 2 a few years ago. How was that experience? Any plans of doing other albums on Rabindrasangeet or in Bengali?
I am a big fan of Rabindrasangeet — the melody, the lyrics and the whole philosophy behind each song is so amazing! And the best part is that the more you listen to a song, the deeper its meaning gets. So it was a wonderful experience collaborating with Sourendro-Soumyojit. Both of them are very talented and very easy to work with. The album was received very well by the audience. I was sceptical because when it comes to Rabindrasangeet, people are very particular about the diction and presentation. It has to be pure and rooted. I am glad we could do it together and they guided me well.
Also, I have been singing in Bengali but because we are two different industries, we don’t know what is releasing next. But I love to sing in Bengali. I love the language and the melodies that they create. My favourite song among the ones I have sung in Bengali is Bhoy dekhash na, please from the movie Hawa Bodol.
Where are you going to perform next?
We are preparing for a concert in the UK. It is called ‘I am home’ and it is a big concert for all of us. We want to be better than we were the last time. The last time we performed in London was way back in 2016. Now we have come a long way with our performances. The lighting and sound has improved. The entire stage is a package. All of us in the group have a lot of fun together and now we feel we are having the best time of our lives.