Sunidhi Chauhan started her singing career as a child, giving her first performance at the age of four, in a local temple in Delhi. Thereafter, she began to participate in, and sing for, various competitions and local gatherings. When local TV anchor, Tabassum, spotted her talent, her family shifted to Mumbai in a bid to further develop the young singer’s skills, and Chauhan became the lead singer in Kalyanji’s ‘Little Wonders’ troupe.
Recognition first met her in 1996, through the music show Meri Aawaz Suno – the first such televised contest in India – which was broadcast through the Indian national television channel, Doordarshan. She won the competition, and bagged the top prize of recording an album, Aira Ghaira Nathu Khaira, with HMV.
Unluckily for Chauhan, Aira Ghaira Nathu Khaira was promoted as a children’s album, and failed to get the recognition it deserved. In 2002, Chauhan herself observed this in an interview:
“My first song and the contest did not help me much. Nothing happened for a while. But by then, I had made up my mind that I will pursue singing as a career.”
Chauhan stepped into the world of playback singing with the 1996 Bollywood film, Shastra, after Aadesh Srivastava asked her to lend her voice to the song Larki Deewaani Dekho, Ladka Deewaana. She followed it with work in films like Gang, Veergati, Dahek, Bade Dilwala, Raja Ki Aayegi Baraat and Samar. By the age of nineteen, Chauhan had already lent her voice to over 350 songs.
Chauhan’s breakthrough was Ram Gopal Varma’s Mast, in which she sang the hit song, Ruki Ruki Si Zindagi, alongside three other songs, including the title song itself. In an interview, while speaking of Mast, she said:
“Whatever I am today, I owe to Mast. I met Sandeep Chowtha through Sonu Nigam, and fifteen days later, Mast was in my lap. I was only thirteen then.”
After Mast there was no turning back. Chauhun went on to work with nationally and internationally acclaimed directors and composers. However, she earned much criticism when she rendered Yeh Mera Dil (Don 2006), for not matching up with the earlier version sung by Asha Bhonsle in 1978.
Chauhan has worked with literally every music director of the new millennium’s first decade, and is one of the most “played” voices on India’s radio circuit. Hit singer Himesh Reshammiya, when asked to rate her in the popular talk show Koffee with Karan gave her a score of 9/10.
Chauhan’s strength lies in her versatility – Having been labelled “genre-defying,” she is perhaps the only Bollywood singer who can sing just about any genre, including rock, pop, classical, folk, and semi-classical . This has helped her beat stiff competition in the industry, especially from top Indian female playback singer, Shreya Ghosal – to whom, many feel, Chauhan has lost her limelight.
In Feb 2007, as part of its marketing campaign and launch of Windows Vista in India, Microsoft hired Sunidhi Chauhan to sing the “Windows Vista Song” titled Wow is Now. This song features English and Hindi lyrics proclaiming the many ‘glamorous’ features of the Windows Vista Operating System.
Chauhan also sung for the Hindi-dubbed version of Disney’s movie, High School Musical – songs which were sung by Vanessa Anne Hudgens in the English version. Moreover, she was the singer of the English language song “Reach Out” at the opening ceremony of the 2006 Asian Games at Doha, Qatar.
2008 was a highly successful year for the young singer, as she went on to deliver a huge number of superhit songs like Chhaliya, Rock Mahi, Lucky Boy, Desi Girl (Dostana), Dance Pe Chance (Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi), and Race Saanson Ki (Race), and which resulted in her winning the “Kelvinator GR8! FLO Women Award 2009” for her mind blowing contribution in Music.
Chauhan has worked with almost all the leading singers, composers and lyricists of India. She has collaborated with Indian singers such as Alka Yagnik, Shaan, Udit Narayan, and is known for her popular pairing with Sukhwinder Singh (in films such as Omkara, Aaja Nachle). She is most often paired with highly acclaimed singer Sonu Nigam, and with the successful female playback singer Shreya Ghosal, whom many view as a stiff competition for Chauhan.
Renowned lyricists she has worked with include Gulzar, Sameer, Prasoon Joshi, Swanand Kirkire, the late Anand Bakshi and Javed Akhtar; music directors include A. R. Rahman, Anu Malik, Jatin Lalit, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Pritam Chakraborty, Nadeem-Shravan, Vishal-Shekhar, Himesh Reshammiya and others.
Chauhan is one of the few female singers of the present generation who have lent their voice for nearly every leading actress in the Indian entertainment industry, including Aishwarya Rai, Preity Zinta, Rani Mukerji, Kareena Kapoor, Bipasha Basu, Priyanka Chopra and more. She has also sung for actresses of yesteryear cinema, such as Rekha.She was the main singer who lent her voice for the comebacks of two leading Bollywood actresses, Kajol, in the movie Fanaa; and Madhuri Dixit, in the movie Aaja Nachle.