When I found out about Sunidhi Chauhan’s Dhoom Again concert in Singapore that just happened to coincide with my family’s trip there to visit my brother and sister-in-law, I jumped at the chance to attend the show. I have made it a point to attend Bollywood shows and concerts featuring my favorite performers when the venue is accessible enough. Growing up a two-hour drive from Atlanta, I went to as many live shows there as possible, particularly any shows featuring SRK as the headliner. Between 1998 and 2004, SRK headlined three concerts in Atlanta, and I went to all of them. Devoted fan or obsessed groupie? You decide.
Even if you haven’t heard her name, which would be hard to imagine given that Sunidhi Chauhan’s Bollywood career has spanned almost two decades already, you’ve likely heard her vocals gracing one of your favorite songs. Sunidhi’s first filmy song was “Ladki Deewani” from the 1996 film Shastra. But her first big break in Bollywood came with the 1999 album for the film Mast. Sandeep Chowta’s composition of “Ruki Ruki Si Zindagi” from this movie earned Sunidhi her first Filmfare Nomination for Best Female Playback Singer, and the rest is history.
Over the years she has rightfully earned a reputation as one of the industry’s most versatile playback singers, so it’s no wonder that I was in awe of her dynamic stage presence in Singapore. From her soulful performance of the classic “Kabhi Kabhi” that could have given Lata Mangeshkar a run for her money to her high-energy rendition of Dostana’s “Desi Girl,” Sunidhi enthralled the audience to the end — with plenty of folks dancing in the concert hall’s aisles as proof. Seriously.
Feel like doing a bit of soul-searching or solo-dancing yourself? Listen to these 15 songs to get a taste of Sunidhi’s diverse repertoire of songs.
1. “Kamli” from Dhoom:3
Considering she was the original “Dhoom Machale” singer, I guess it’s only fitting that Sunidhi’s vocals are showcased on this Katrina Kaif dance-outfit-transformation, from a trench coat on top of overalls to umm significantly less.
2. “Dance Pe Chance” from Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi
Don’t know how to dance? No worries, me neither, and Sunidhi breaks it all down for us in this popular song from 2008.
3. “Gun Gun Guna” from Agneepath
If this catchy song from this 2012 action drama flick doesn’t make you want to sing, then you may be as hopeless as Hrithik Roshan’s character in this video.
4. “Beedi” from Omkara
This 2006 song from Bollywood’s modern remake of Shakespeare’s Othello garnered Sunidhi her first Filmfare Award win for Best Female Playback Singer. One listen and you’ll understand why.
5. “Ishq Sufiyaana” from The Dirty Picture
My admiration for Vidya Balan’s powerful performance in this 2011 film is rivaled only by my obsession with this beautiful song.
6. “Sheila Ki Jawani” from Tees Maar Khan
Katrina Kaif’s 2010 “what’s my name” item number heard around the world wouldn’t have gotten very far without Sunidhi’s lively vocals.
7. “Bumbro” from Mission Kashmir
Throwback! Yes, it’s really been 14 years since this movie was released. Take a moment to feel a little old, and then pep up with this uplifting tune.
8. “Dilliwaali Girfriend” from Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani
If you’re just now getting last week’s “Balam Pichkari” out of your head, then you’re all set to hate me a little more with this even more absurdly catchy Deepika-Ranbir song from 2013.
9. “Kaisi Paheli Zindagani” from Parineeta
10. “Halkat Jawaani” from Heroine
The audience in Singapore went nuts for Sunidhi’s performance of this 2012 song, rightfully so.
11. “Sajna Ve” from Chameli
Sunidhi’s vocals are featured in every song of the soundtrack for this 2003 drama starring Kareena Kapoor as a prostitute and Rahul Bose as the wealthy man who just happens to cross her path. Here’s my personal favorite from the movie:
12. “Ainvayi Ainvayi” from Band Baaja Baraat
This song instantly transports me to one of my best friend’s weddings. Between all of her wedding events and the number of times I’ve hit repeat on this 2010 song, I’ve listened to “Ainvayi Ainvayi” over and over and over again — but I still haven’t quite figured out what a neem ke pakore is. Unsolved mysteries, Bollywood style.
13. “Kyon” from Barfi
At the Singapore show, Sunidhi introduced this number as “a very cute song” that she holds close to her heart. The filmy version features Papon’s voice onscreen, the Barfi soundtrack has a duet version, and the MTV India Unplugged session below features Sunidhi’s solo vocals. Pick your favorite!
14. “Aaja Nachle” from Aaja Nachle
This 2007 film was Madhuri Dixit’s Bollywood comeback, and the movie’s title song subsequently became a dance favorite everywhere. If you haven’t picked up on the hint yet, Sunidhi really just wants you to “come dance.” Do it.
15. “Mehboob Mere” from Fiza
Props to my Bollywood BFF from college who reminded me of this all time classic Sunidhi song. How could I have forgotten this 2000 item number that helped put former Miss Universe Sushmita Sen on the map?
In addition to her verified personal Facebook and Twitter accounts, there are Facebook and Twitter pages dedicated to getting the word out about Sunidhi Chauhan’s upcoming live shows. Keep an eye out for any concerts that may be near you. In the meantime, let us know about any of your Sunidhi favorites that we may have left off this list!
Farah Naz Khan is an internal medicine resident at Emory University. After graduating from college in Boston, she returned to her Alabama hometown to attend medical school, and was reunited with the mix of Southern hospitality and South Asian flair that had shaped her childhood. Follow her on Twitter @farah287 or read some of her thoughts at farah287.blogspot.com.