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We were hurt that Pak singers didn't call: Sonu

We were hurt that Pak singers didn't call: Sonu

Author: Mahafreed Irani
Publication: The Times of India
Date: January 26, 2009

Singer Sonu Niigaam can feel the weight of responsibility as he prepares to perform at the closing ceremony of the Saptarang Festival at the Gateway of India on Republic Day. As an artiste and entertainer, he thinks this is will be his chance to uplift the spirit of terror-battered Mumbaikars, spreading the message of patriotism. "I feel highly burdened. It's a huge responsibility,'' he says.

On his itinerary, is a list of patriotic songs like Sandse Aate Hain, Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna and Panchi, Nadiya, Pawan ke Jhonke, which will end with a special number that Niigaam will sing with his father. "When I was nine years old, my dad taught me the lyrics of Mera Rang de Basanti Chola. It's a song full of patriotic energy and positivity,'' says the singer who sung the score when it was composed for the second time for The Legend of Bhagat Singh.

The venue-the Gateway of India-stands as a symbol of the city's history and its unique quality of grit. "There, with my songs, I want to touch the souls of people," Niigaam says.

The singer was surprised when none of his Pakistani friends and artistes called after the 26/11 carnage. "It almost seemed like they were indifferent to what had happened. Even Ghazal singer Talat Aziz, who is a friend of mine, was hurt that no one from Pakistan called to express their shock and concern,'' says Niigaam, who has immense love and respect for artistes from across the border like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Ghulam Ali and Husain Bakh.

Recollecting how he escaped a bomb blast outside his concert venue in Karachi four years ago, Niigaam thinks he was reborn that day through divine intervention. "The attack didn't stop me from performing that night even though my family and my life was at risk.''

The singer does not seem to be too sure when it comes to boycotting Pakistani artistes. "Personally, I don't believe in banning art but I understand the motive behind the act. People are deeply hurt and this is their way of expressing it,'' he says, adding how shocked he was when he learnt that singers from Pakistan were paid through hawala to evade tax.

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