Photos: Sonu Nigam shaves off head, asks to pay Rs 10 lakh

Bollywood playback singer Sonu Nigam chops off hair during a press conference at his Versova residence. He has done this in response to a reward declared by a Maulvi in West Bengal. The cleric announced a reward of Rs 10 lakh rupees to anyone who managed to shave the singer's head, put a garland of old torn shoes around his neck and tour him around the country for his comments on azaan.

Sonu himself took the challenge and shaved off his head. Addressing the media at his Versova residence and with hair stylist Aalim Hakim by his side, Sonu said, "I never thought that someone like me who reveres Mohammad Rafi as his father, considers Ghulam Mustafa Khan and Mohammad Tahir his guru, whose trainer and driver are Muslims, has friends who read their namaz in his house, will be tainted as anti-Muslim”.

Clarifying his stance, Nigam said, "I've spoken about the nuisance caused by loudspeakers in the past and I stick to my stand. Loudspeakers are not a religious necessity. I have the same thing to say about temples and gurudwaras. There are Hindu festivals when people blast film music on the streets and make a lot of noise. Isn't that dadagiri too? I'm talking about a social issue. Not a religious one."

Sonu also clarified that he is not influenced by any political parties, "I'm neither left-wing nor right-wing. I'm in the middle, which makes me a minority."

The 43-year-old said his decision to chop off his hair in response to the maulvi's speech was to convey a serious message. "See, this is the gundagardi that I was talking about. But I'm not trying to stage an agitation or challenge the maulvi. It's about baring and fighting fanaticism peacefully," he insisted before withdrawing indoors only to reappear with his head full of hair gone. In what looked like a spiffy buzz cut in the hands of Aalim, known for giving Bollywood their inventive hairdos, Nigam pointed out, "The one cutting my hair is a Muslim but he is doing it with love, not hate."

Soon after Nigam shaved off his head, the cleric met reporters at his CIT Road house in Kolkata. "I'm not going to pay Rs 10 lakh because Sonu Nigam has failed to fulfil all the conditions I laid down. I'm glad that he shaved his head although it looks like he only trimmed it. The other two conditions - that he should wear a garland of tattered shoes and visit every Indian household - is still incomplete. So, he does not qualify for the amount I promised”, he said.

Quaderi cleared that air that he did not issue a fatwa. "It was an announcement against Nigam's provocative statement," he said.