July 30, 2021 8:45:59 am
If you think of some of the best Hindi film songs of the last three decades, chances are Sonu Nigam will feature prominently on the list. Be it “Sandese Aate Hain”, “Suraj Hua Maddham”, “Satrangi Re” or “Kal Ho Naa Ho”, the millennials grew up on a steady dose of Sonu Nigam, but even before he made a name for himself with evergreen Hindi film songs, Sonu Nigam was a household name, thanks to Zee TV’s musical show Sa Re Ga Ma (now known as Sa Re Ga Ma Pa).
But did you know the longest-running musical reality show on Indian television was ‘created’ for Sonu Nigam?
In a conversation with Karan Thapar for BBC in 2001, Sonu Nigam revealed how he came on board for the iconic reality show and why he left it at its peak. Sonu shared that he was first invited as a guest on another popular show Antakshari, in a ‘Playback Singers’ special episode. That episode featured him along with other singers like Abhijeet Bhattacharya, Udit Narayan, Sadhana Sargam, Sushma Shreshta (then known as Poornima). It was then that show director Gajendra Singh spotted him. “That’s when Gajendra Singh spotted me. He spoke to me for Antakshari first, he wanted to change both the hosts at that time,” Sonu shared.
Gajendra Singh had offered Sonu the job of hosting Antakshari, thereby replacing Annu Kapoor, but Sonu rejected the offer. Sonu shared, “I told him Gajendra that if I do Antakshari I’ll always be compared to Annu ji. Let’s do something new, let’s do something fresh which has my own identity with it. Then Gajendra Singh approached me after 2 months. He said ‘Ive got something in my mind’.”
When Karan Thapar asked Sonu if Sa Re Ga Ma was essentially “created” for him, Sonu said, “Exactly!”
Sonu Nigam was the face of Sa Re Ga Ma for over five years. When many of his contemporaries were known for their voices, Sonu was also known for his charming personality, soft-spoken attitude and his golden voice. But then Sonu left that successful career to “explore newer horizons.” Sonu termed it a “fulfilling experience” but said that he knew when it was the right time to leave.
“I gave it up for a reason. I was the host of Sa Re Ga Ma, I cannot just forget that I am a guest at people’s houses also. I am coming as a guest to the audience’s houses through their TV. Any guest who overstays his welcome becomes irritating. I just wanted to go before people chuck me out. Five and a half years of Sa Re Ga Ma was more than enough. I thought it was the right time to quit,” Sonu said.
He added, “I didn’t want to just go on dragging and be the Oprah Winfrey of India. I wanted to explore newer horizons. Also, everyday exposure to television, it spoils you. I just thought if my life is without Sa Re Ga Ma, what more can I do? Let’s try.”
Sonu Nigam, who is celebrating his 48th birthday on Friday, has had an illustrious career even after he quit the musical reality show. He has since judged various reality shows and has given innumerable hit songs.
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