Why Sonu Nigam believes he will 'cry on stage' during his Dubai concert this weekend

His performance is being touted as the world’s first live Bollywood concert with social-distancing guidelines

Sonu Nigam performing in 2017 in Delhi. Getty Images
Sonu Nigam performing in 2017 in Delhi. Getty Images

Sonu Nigam is no stranger to performing in front of UAE audiences, but his gig on Friday will feel a bit different.

The world-famous Indian singer is performing at the Dubai World Trade Centre, in a live show demonstrating "Covid Consciousness". That means the one-off concert, titled Sonu Nigam – The Light, has been organised with social distancing in mind, with 1.5 metres between seated fans.

It is also Nigam’s first truly global concert, he says. It will feature 18 musicians and performers who live in the UAE but come from all parts of the world. They include musicians from Russia, Lebanon, Spain, France and Mexico, all adding their own spin to Nigam’s music.

“There is a lot of potential in music and it just gets better when we have people from different countries, different genres,” Nigam tells The National. “It’s going to be very interesting.”

'This is a new way of existence, so let's follow it'

The singer admits that when he was first approached for an indoor concert, he was skeptical. But seeing how the UAE was successfully monitoring and handling the situation, and gradually easing restrictions gave him more confidence.

“Malls are operating, banks are operating – but they are following guidelines, social distancing protocols. This is the new way of existence, so let’s follow it,” he says.

Organisers Blu Blood Middle East say they are following all of the government’s latest Covid-19 health and safety guidelines for the concert, which is being touted as the world’s first indoor Bollywood concert to follow social distancing guidelines since the pandemic started.

“This concert by itself is a huge statement, it will be an emotional outburst,” says Nigam. “Because this is the first time, in our lifetimes at least, that the entire world has together gone through a period of so much gravitas and intensity.”

Of course, it takes a lot to set up a “Covid-conscious” concert; even rehearsals had to be done with social distancing in mind. Nigam says the team had their first face-to-face rehearsal on Tuesday, August 18, just three days before the actual performance. Prior to that, all practise sessions happened remotely, with the help of famous Indian composer Yogesh Pradhan.

In fact, it only became possible a week before the concert for his band to fly in for the performance thanks to changes in flight regulations between India and the UAE. That last-minute change is something Nigam is delighted about.

“This is going to be very emotional. All of us are aware that we are going to be crying on stage when we see audiences sitting in front of us for the first time. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything as profound and intense as this.”

Music is a reflection of society’s happiness. You know a culture or a society is happy when there is music in it

The concert is called The Light because it is “almost symbolic to the light at the end of the tunnel”, he adds. “It is like a harbinger of hope and normalcy in our lives. Thankfully, we are in a beautiful place like Dubai where things are getting better. Of course, we still have to take precautions, follow social distancing, but it is better than most of the world.”

On living in Dubai

The Indian singer has been in Dubai for the last five-and-a-half months. He had travelled to the UAE to visit his son, a student here, when increasing flight restrictions and eventual closures made him extend his stay – not that he minds one bit. The singer says he is thankful for everything, especially the opportunity to spend more time with his son.

“I’ve also been watching movies, maintaining my fitness regime, and have tried to keep up with my music as much as possible. I have done a lot of songs from (Dubai) and sent them to India.”

One such song is Aakhri Kadam Tak, which came out earlier this month to soundtrack the movie Khuda Haafiz.

“Today, technology is such that you can create music from anywhere,” says Nigam, who adds that he has a portable studio setup in the UAE, complete with microphones, headphones and speakers. The singer has also bought and is planning to move into a new house in Dubai, which is currently under construction.

Does that mean that Dubai residents will get to see a whole lot more of him in the coming months? “I will keep that open ended,” the singer says of his future plans. “I do need to go back to India. Work will keep happening, but I have a duty towards my family. The moment everything gets better, I will take a flight back to Bombay to meet my father.”

But until then, Nigam wants to use his talent to make the world a happier place during a difficult time. As he puts it, “music is a reflection of society’s happiness. You know a culture or a society is happy when there is music in it."

Sonu Nigam - The Light will take place on Friday, August 21, at the Dubai World Trade Centre. Tickets are priced at Dh250 and can be bought through Platinum List.

Updated: August 20, 2020 02:34 PM

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