When the City of Pune was Enchanted

by Sonu Nigam’s Melodious Voice

His age is merely the number of years the world has been enjoying his music! When I was given a chance to pen my experience of the grand live concert of Sonu Nigam in Pune (Sonu Nigam Live Concert in Pune at Mayfield Estate, Kharadi, on 26th November, 2022), I jumped for joy. After all, Sonu Nigam has been a prolific singer for more than 45 years besides being a terrific mimic, anchor, celebrity judge, composer, and actor. Personally, I am intrigued by multifaceted personalities such as him. This, coupled with my fondness for him, made me take this up! I was pleasantly surprised at the end of a show of high-octane energy that lasted for above 150 minutes, by a man who did not look a day more than 40.

Featuring the “Master of Melody”; Image Source: Getty Images

After the opening ceremony, the stage was all set up for the man of the evening to grace it. At around 8 P.M., Sonu Nigam entered the stage in style with his vast repertoire of work playing on an LED screen in the back. Sonu Nigam entered wearing a three-piece suit and a pair of sunglasses. As always, the 49-year-old singer looked debonair and handsome in a black blazer over a black shirt and a black waistcoat. 

‘Kahani’ from Laal Singh Chaddha was the opening song, and he addressed the audience by greeting them and expressing his gratitude for what he has been doing for decades now, and for the appreciation that he has been receiving for it all.

Next up was ‘Aisa Pehli Baar Hua Hai’ which took the spectators two decades back in time, and they were prompt in shaking a leg to his fabulous rendition. Next in line was ‘Deewana Tera’ from his most popular and celebrated non-film album, Deewana, in which the audience joined in unhesitatingly, and Sonu said, “Unbelievably in the right pitch, fantastic”.  He then broke into a brief mimicry session which he is also known to be famous for. ‘Hans Mat Pagli’ was the subsequent song, and it felt surreal to finally hear this underrated but beautiful composition live in the voice of Sonu Nigam, having heard it live in the voice of Shreya Ghoshal, the female co-singer of the song, already.

Snaps from the Gig; Image Source: Instagram

Sonu Nigam hit it out of the park with each note of his next song, ‘Maana Ke Hum Yaar Nahin’, before moving on to yet another fantastic and energetic track, ‘Dil Dooba’, from the film, Khakee. ‘Ab Mujhe Raat Din’ from the non-film album, Deewana, was my favourite pick from the show because of how Sonu Nigam managed to flawlessly intertwine two retro numbers within his own track (paying tribute to Kishore Kumar with ‘Pyar Manga Hai Tumhi Se’ and ‘Chalte Chalte’) without changing the scale or pitch of the original song.

With the title track of ‘Main Hoon Na’ and ‘Phir Milenge Chalte Chalte’, Sonu Nigam paid heartfelt tributes to five legendary musicians of the Bollywood music industry, namely, Kishore Kumar (with ‘O Mere Dil Ke Chain’), Mohammed Rafi (with ‘Aaja Aaja Main Hoon Pyar Tera’), Lata Mangeshkar (with ‘Lag Ja Gale Se Phir’), Asha Bhosle (with ‘Kajra Mohabbat Wala’), and Manna Dey (with ‘Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli’), touching the hearts of the audience through and through! These were my second-most favourite picks from his show.

‘Yeh Dil Deewana’ from Pardes turned out to be a perfect demonstration of Sonu Nigam’s versatility and his ability to engage the audience. ‘Tumse Milke Dil Ka’ from Main Hoon Na, a not-so-easy qawwali, was rendered with otherworldly elan and perfection as not a single note sounded out-of-tune while Sonu Nigam modulated, amplified and softened his voice according to the needs of the song, without batting an eyelid. He then paid tribute to Mukesh by crooning ‘Dum Dum Diga Diga’. Onewonders how he manages to sing even consonant sounds such as “bh”, “th”, “ph”, or “dh”, without sounding harsh for even a moment. Sonu Nigam would sound melodious even if he coughed while singing. He is simply  blessed.

Snaps from the Gig; Image Source: Instagram

‘Mere Haath Mein’ had a hauntingly sublime charm with a chant of “Yaa Maula”, and I believe that nobody could have rendered this song better than him; such is his mastery over his voice. Next in line were three beautiful duets that were originally sung alongside Shreya Ghoshal, namely, ‘Shukran Allah’, ‘Soniyo’, and ‘Chori Kiya Re Jiya’. Sonu Nigam graciously treated the audience to ‘Sapna Jahan’ from Brothers, switching between male and female voices; and simultaneously appreciated the energy and passion of the audience.

The absolutely energetic ‘Maria Maria’ led to the iconic ‘Saathiya’. ‘Saathiya’ is one of the most magical songs ever to exist, primarily because of how beautifully it has been composed by A. R. Rahman, penned by Gulzar, and sung by the man of the evening. ‘Suraj Hua Maddham’ made the evening more delightful as Sonu Nigam took us back to those good old days when Bollywood produced enjoyable larger-than-life motion pictures with the most aurally pleasing songs.

By this time, I was convinced of Sonu Nigam’s wizardry. His mind is like a jigsaw puzzle. You shall never know or be able to predict what his next move will be. His musical prowess and impromptu improvisations are direct reflections of his artistic geniosity. He loves bombarding the audience with various inflections while sounding technically flawless, and is sure to baffle one and all with each rendition. ‘Jeene Ke Hain Chaar Din’, ‘Aaja Soniye’, and ‘Mujhse Shaadi Karogi’ kept the ambience lively and vibrant.

‘Just Chill’ was sung with much gusto and the audience went into a mad frenzy. The ever-exuberant Sonu Nigam finally sang his most-requested song for the evening, ‘Bijuria’, from the non-film album, Mausam, and the audience went into a tizzy once again. The highlight of the evening was when Sonu Nigam “moonwalked” to a suddenly transitioned beat played by his band from a classic of Michael Jackson, his biggest inspiration among Western musicians. This particular rendition earned him a standing ovation from the audience, and rightfully so!

Snaps from the Gig; Image Source: Instagram

‘Tanhayee’ from Dil Chahta Hai calmed the audience down a bit as the dulcet tones of Sonu Nigam’s mellifluous voice serenaded and caressed the senses. Sonu Nigam, one of the most robust tenors, went on to render ‘Aaj Ki Raat’ featuring Shah Rukh Khan, and I really enjoyed the rendition as he once again resorted to switching to the female voice while singing the portions assigned to the female singers originally, and I was beyond surprised to hear how Sonu Nigam sounded more like Alisha Chinai than Alisha Chinai herself when he rendered her portions of the song in his high-pitched falsetto.

‘Kal Ho Naa Ho’ took the spectators on a nostalgic trip down memory lane. Almost all the cellphone torches were lit and they remained lit till he ended the show with his out-of-this-world rendition of ‘Abhi Mujh Mein Kahin’. The last song of the evening turned out to be the best one, and I am still trying to figure out how many spoons of emotion he poured into rendering this song! What did stand out throughout the show was the number of times everyone in the audience sang along and danced to the tunes. Miraculously, almost with every song.

Snaps from the Gig; Image Source: Instagram

Unparalleled talent and countless years of riyaaz, along with a dose of intelligent application of the mind, aid a performer in keeping the audience engrossed for as long as he wants to. His live performance is a true manifestation of the extraordinary intellectual power and mental superiority of Sonu Nigam. His talent is something above and beyond the norm. Take a bow in appreciation for the “Lord of Chords”, Sonu Nigam, who never needs an auto tuner and may never do so till he sings!

Reneeka Chatterjee

F.Y. B.Sc.

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