Sonu Nigam's degeneration from lead singer to chorus of Twitter trolls is a travesty of his talent

Sandipan Sharma

May,25 2017 11:26 20 IST

Sonu Nigam took the right decision by quitting Twitter. If his recent words and deeds are an indication, he really needs to declutter his mind and concentrate on singing. It is high time he remembered what Gulzar once wrote and Lata Mangeshkar famously sang: 'Meri aawaz hi pehchan hai, gar yaad rahe.'

Sonu Nigam. Image courtesy News 18

Sonu Nigam. Image courtesy News 18

Sonu Nigam decides to quit Twitter and explains why in 24 tweets: 'Need to de-clutter'

Truth is, once upon a time Sonu was a good singer. His voice, a throwback to the silken singing of Mohammed Rafi, whose songs he rendered in many cover versions for Gulshan Kumar, had the melancholy melody of a ruminating adult and the zest and liveliness of carefree youth.

There was a time when you could fall in love with the soulful, languid grace of 'Bas Mujhe Raat Din, Bas Mujhe Chahti Ho, (Sangharsh)' and simultaneously feel the high-octane energy of 'Ye Dil (Pardes)'. With his range of vocals, soothing voice and amazing talent, Sonu seemed destined for greatness. But, one fine day, he disappeared from the stage.

A few days ago, he made a surprise comeback with a duet with Parineeti Chopra for Meri Pyaari Bindu. If you follow music, if you remember Sonu's best songs, you just need to hear 'Maana Ke Hum Yaar Nahi' to realise how far he has fallen from his peak. Frankly, Parineeti's voice sounds much better and Sonu just doesn't sound like himself.

It is a mystery why Sonu disappeared from the industry, became under-employed and out of favour. Perhaps he was overtaken by better singers he once judged at contests, or maybe he lost the purity of his voice.

When great singers perform, they give their soul to a song. They add their joy, pain, emotional highs and lows to separate a great song from a mechanical rendition. Sonu did all this once; now he sounds dull and monotonous.

Only Sonu knows how this has happened. Once he was a champion of liberal values, a gentleman who stood up for women's rights and dignity. Now he stands shoulder to shoulder with another out-of-work singer who perhaps needs professional help to get over his manic rage, misogyny and stop his imminent decline into self-consuming hatred, frustration and a rabid need for recognition.

Unlike Abhijeet, who growls on Twitter and cries in police stations when arrested for online abuse before facing the embarrassment of getting bailed out by his own son, Sonu still has hope. Though he has somehow been sucked into the maelstrom of online jingoism, bigotry and become a caricature of what he himself once despised — the rabid right-winger with hatred for women — his Twitter history suggests he still has the ability to introspect and do the right thing occasionally.

In the past, he has come to the defence of women who were abused by trolls, stood up for the dignity of women and expressed his outrage over rapes and molestations. His shocking defence of Abhijeet, who called former JNU student leader Shehla Rashid a sex worker, is hopefully just a temporary volte-face, something that he may regret the morning after at the dawn of sobriety. Hopefully, it just reflects some temporary turmoil in his mind.

An actor without a role and a singer without a song are pitiable. It is easy to understand their pain when the arc lights fade, the applause disappears and their past turns into a prison. In their quest for recognition, yearning for a captive audience, they end up making a fool of themselves, mistaking the jeers for cheers, convincing themselves that any attention is better than no attention, finding solace in cheerleading abusive trolls instead of being the lead singer of a memorable song.

Sonu Nigam should remember the degeneration of a lead singer of many memorable songs into a part of a chorus of Twitter trolls and online abusers is a travesty of his own talent.

Leaving behind a shouting army of "6.5 million" followers is the best thing he may have done in years. If he declutters his mind, who knows he may return with a melody that could earn him many million admirers.

Published Date: May 25, 2017 11:26 AM | Updated Date: May 25, 2017 11:27 AM