Happy Birthday Sukhwinder Singh!

(This is a reposted post from last year) There is another big birthday today, but I am following a “if you can’t say anything nice” policy and ignoring it.  But that means Sukhwinder gets a day all to himself!  And he deserves it, he has worked very hard for a very long time.

Sukhwinder doesn’t have the kind of voice that gets a lot of starring songs.  It’s kind of rough sounding, and harsh.  He does a lot of work as the extra male voice in ensemble songs.  Like in Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, when they needed 4 distinctive voices, 2 male and 2 female, they brought in Sukhwinder.

Music directors will pick him when they want that rough every man sound to their songs.

He doesn’t seem to have a regular music director collaborator, not the way Arijit Singh works with Pritam for instance, but he does work with Rahman fairly often, when Rahman needs that rough sound.

Other music directors too, every once in a while will find a really spectacular way to showcase his sound.

There’s a kind of aggressive misery in his voice.

Which can also turn into a strange sort of party song with an edge to it feeling, like in his recent hit from Soorma.

Or in “Slow Motion Angreza” from Bhaag Milkha Bhaag.  His voice works well for songs sung by strong manly men.

His voice makes you believe it could be a real person singing, not a famous movie star or playback singer, but just a regular person lifting up their voice.

Maybe that’s why he’s often used for the voice of the second hero.  The less heroic hero.

Right from the early days, Kumar Sanu got the good bits of this song, Sukhwinder was left with the dregs.

Which isn’t to say he hasn’t had his chances to shine, his big hit songs!  Often with Shahrukh, something about Shahrukh’s unusual difficult face goes with Sukhwinder’s unusual difficult voice.

Sukhwinder isn’t a famous name and doesn’t have a lot of songs to his credit, but if you crawl through his filmography you will find that he has been a part of a handful of classics.  A reminder that everyone has their part to play, and everyone will have their moment to shine.  From “Chak De India”

To “Haule Haule”

To “Mitwa”

To “Chaiyya Chaiyya”

To last year’s “Vashmalle”

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21 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Sukhwinder Singh!

  1. Ahh! I feel like I haven’t been able to read or post in so long but I wanted to jump back in to say that I didn’t realize how many songs Sukhwinder Singh has done and I really like a lot of them! Maybe I like that slightly rougher style. Who knew!

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    • Hi! Seems like everyone is like me, life gets funner and freer and more interesting in the summer, less time to sit home and stare at a computer screen.

      I really like Sukhwinder Singh too! Last year and again this year I looked at the list of songs and went “huh! Why isn’t he a bigger deal?”

      On Thu, Jul 18, 2019 at 7:26 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • I think he may have had classical training, which gives that extra power when he attacks a song.

      On Thu, Jul 18, 2019 at 7:48 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. Thanks for giving him his due. There is no song of him (to which I came across or know) that doesn’t give me a special pleasure. Every ShahRukh-song, i.e., to which Sukwinder lent his voice and talent, belongs to my ‘very special songs’.

    Whose birthday today did you skip?

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    • Priyanka. I just don’t have anything to say! She and Kangana have never gotten a birthday post because I stare at the screen and my mind is blank.

      On Thu, Jul 18, 2019 at 8:38 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. To me Sukhwinder Singh will always be the guy who sang Chaiya Chaiya. You had to have been in India at the time to know what a massive hit that song was and how it made him an overnight star. You’re right – he does sound like an everyday guy singing a song, the way SRK describes in JHMS…trying to sound louder than the tractors. I remember he was a big enough deal at one point that people would go to watch a movie just for his one song. Like my friends and I went to watch RNBDJ just for Haule Haule. He also sang some songs in Taal. And Slumdog Millionaire.

    AR Rahman was the one who brought him into the industry and was initially responsible for giving him most of his songs. I think his career nearly died once there was a rift in their relationship. I can find nothing about it, partly because it’s hard to find ANYthing about Rahman ever.

    I also remember how shocked we all were when Rahman sang Jai Ho on the Oscars stage and edited out the Sukhwinder bits. Rahman was the one winning the award, sure, but for the stage performance he could have had Sukhwinder accompany him, esp since he was the one who sang WAY MORE of the song than Rahman. The entire Slumdog team was there for all the major awards. Rahman performed at a number of them. Sukhwinder was never there. Later I read an interview of Sukhwinder where he said “I am, because he is, and I hold no grudge against him” or something to that effect, in response to whether he felt miffed by what Rahman had done.

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    • PS: Other than Chaiya Chaiya and Haule Haule, most of the songs on this list weren’t exactly hits. His biggest hits were with ARR.

      – 1947 Earth – “Ruth Aa Gayee Re”
      – Taal – “Ramta Jogi”, “Ni Main Samajh Gayee”, “Kariye Na”
      – Lagaan – “Mitwa”, “Ghanan Ghanan”
      – Monsoon Wedding – “Aaj Mera Jee Kardaa” AND the remix of his own song later in Lucknow Central, something v few singers get to do in their lifetimes!
      – Musafir – “Saaqi Saaqi”
      – Paheli – “Phir Raat Kati” (what a fun song!)
      – Omkara – “Beedi”, “Omkara”
      – Om Shanti Om – “Dard e Disco”
      – Bachna Ae Haseeno – “Jogi Mahi”
      – Billu – “Marjaani”
      – Dabangg – Title song
      – Dil Dhadakne Do – “Gallan Goodiyan”

      Gosh, so many amazing hits! And such HUGE hits! Most of these are songs I can’t imagine anyone else singing; or they wouldn’t be nearly as amazing and powerful.

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      • Out of that list, Ramta Jogi was the one that immediately leaped out at me, I could hear his voice right away. So interesting how Rahman used him in Taal, to bring in the kind of rougher stronger version of the songs contrasted with the sweet sound of Alka Yagnik and Sonu Nigam and Hariharan.

        On Thu, Jul 18, 2019 at 10:34 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • How fascinating! Rahman does seem to discover a lot of people and then kind of move on. Whether it is because of a rift, or he just gets bored with their voice.

      On Thu, Jul 18, 2019 at 10:22 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. I had no idea he had done all those songs! I’m not good about paying attention to music so thanks for this. Also, I applaud your leaving birthday posts out for those two. Kangana’s last outing was crazier than usual.

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  5. I can never think of Sukhwinder as not a big deal maybe because I was a teenager in India when Chhaiyya Chhaiyya came out. He was a huge star at the time. You could not spend 15 minutes out and about in north India without hearing his voice. If he sang a song, it had a fairly high chance of it being a hit. I am surprised that so many people here are surprised by the number of big hits he has had.

    His voice is so distinctive and you are right about how it sounds a bit rough and everyman. Even my European husband who has maybe watched 15 Hindi movies can tell within a minute when a song is sung by “the guy from Chhaiyya Chhaiyya”. I also think his voice pairs very well with Kailash Kher. They both have that rough voice but Kailash’s is higher pitched so when they sing together their voices harmonize very well. I love their voices together in Fatak from Kaminey. Not sure if they have done any other songs.

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