She started singing for films in 1996 with a song in Shastra. But it was 'Ruki ruki si zindagi' from Mast (1999) that helped Sunidhi Chauhan make a mark in Bollywood. Now, two decades later, she is considered one of the most versatile female voices in the industry. Currently, she is judging a singing reality show on TV.
While many of her contemporaries ran out of work after a few years, Sunidhi managed to create a strong footing for herself in the industry. "Singing is the only thing I love, and I don't do this only because it's my job. In fact, there have been times when I have performed at concerts with high fever. That's my love for music," she says.
Though most singers and composers from the '90s and early 2000s are disconcerted with the way Hindi film music has evolved, Sunidhi feels content with the transformation. "There are a lot of changes, and all of them have been for the good. I don't want to get into the technicalities, but I can say that I am glad to be part of the change," she says.
From singing soulful, romantic songs to peppy, item numbers, Sunidhi is known for adapting to diverse genres with ease. Ask her about her versatility, and she says it's all about feeling a song. "I can't fake expressions. When I enter a recording studio, I leave all my thoughts behind and start afresh. My ability to feel and relate to a track helps me," says Sunidhi.
While Sunidhi has never been out of work, the number of songs she sings has surely reduced. Admitting that she been selective, she says, "I am not singing few songs consciously; I take up what comes my way. For the past two-three years, I have been a bit choosy because I can't sing sub-standard lyrics. Also, there are a lot of new and young singers, who are getting work. So, what I try to do, as a singer, is to keep the quality of my songs high."
The singer is glad that the industry is opening up to new artistes. Does that make her feel insecure? "What do you think (laughs)?" she asks, adding, "Not at all. As a senior, I feel proud to see so many youngsters get a chance. They are all great singers, and I love to hear them sing. Music, for me, is not competition. I just concentrate on my work."
Sunidhi, who released her first single in 2013, says she is "working on an independent project, but it's at an early stage". When asked if acting in films also interests her like it does to some of her contemporaries from the music fraternity, the singer says, "I have lost 21 kg recently, and it's not because I want to work in movies. I have done that to feel good about myself. But if I get offers, I will definitely take them up."
Talking about the singing reality show she is currently judging, Sunidhi says, "It's a great show and its USP is the blind auditions format, where the coaches (judges) cannot see the contestants, but only hear them singing."