By Ruchika Kher
New Delhi, Dec 31 (IANS) It's pouring offers for Sukhwinder Singh in both Bollywood and Hollywood. But instead of giving himself a pat on the back and taking all the credit, the playback singer says he owes his success to ace composer A.R. Rahman.
"Rahman has been a catalyst in my success because when everyone had turned me down and ridiculed my song 'Thaiyan thaiyan', he was the only one to believe in me. With few changes in lyrics, he gave me my first big success in the form of 'Chaiyyan chaiyyan'," Sukhwinder told IANS in an interview.
Sukhwinder, who started his Bollywood stint with the 1986 film "Karma", witnessed an upswing in his career with the hugely popular song "Chaiyyan chaiyyan" in the 1998 film "Dil Se".
He later went on to sing hits like "Main ramta jogi" ("Taal"), "Kambakht ishq" ("Pyar Tune Kya Kiya"), "Chak de" ("Chak De! India"), "Dil haara" ("Tashan"), "Dard-e-disco" ("Om Shanti Om") and the recent hit "Haule haule" from "Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi".
The singer, whose voice has a rustic feel, has also gone international.
"I have sung a Kutchi folk song for a Steven Spielberg film starring Denzel Washington, because they wanted authentic Indian music," said Sukhwinder.
"Earlier too, my song 'Chaiyyan chaiyyan' was used for the film 'Inside Man'. Recently I sang a song 'Jai ho' for Hollywood film 'Slumdog Millionaire', where again the music is by Rahman," he added.
While Sukhwinder has lent his powerful voice to many Hindi film actors, his songs picturised on superstar Shah Rukh Khan are sure-shot hits.
"The fact is that many of my songs with other actors have been equally popular like 'Tu kisna hai' ('Kisna'), 'Ishq bina' ('Taal'), 'Rut aa gayee re' ('1947 Earth'), 'Aj mera jee kardaa' ('Monsoon Wedding'), 'Beedi jalai le' ('Omkara') and many more.
"But people always remember my songs picturised on Shah Rukh. I think the reason is that the energy he brings to the screen is amazing. Since my voice too has a high-energy point, it gels well with Shah Rukh's personality," the singer explained.
Sukhwinder also made an appearance on television as one of the judges for STAR Plus' musical reality show "Star Voice of India 2", but he found the experience far from pleasing.
"It's better not to comment on my stint as a judge. Things are very different when scripts in such shows bind you," he said.
So what about the current crop of singers that such shows are churning out?
"As for the current crop, we do have a few good singers ... they are promising too, but the system is not really open to newcomers. The struggle phase is long. So most of the time, good singers don't last and give up too soon," he said.
Sukhwinder, who has been in the industry for more than two decades now, has his hands full.
"'Billu Barber', 'Ravana', 'Kaminay'... It's difficult to recall names of all the films I'm doing," said the singer.