Meet westcoast resident and vocal powerhouse, Neha Kakkar. Good things, they say, come in small packages and if we had to go by the premise that “they” in this overused idiom represent the Indian film industry, then let us just say that Juhu-resident Neha Kakkar might just fit the bill.
Born in Rishikesh and brought up in Delhi, you would recognise her as the youngster who left Anu Malik, Sonu Nigam, and Farah Khan chuckling away in 2005 on the sets of Indian Idol. Or better yet, her latest stint in Comedy Circus is what could jog your memory into putting a face to the name. The voice behind Second Hand Jawani in Cocktail and Jaadu ki Jappi in Ramaiya Vastavaiya, Kakkar is slowly crawling her way onto the songs-on-loop-on-the-radio scene.
“Slowly, but surely,” she adds.
The mischief in her husky voice is unmistakable. Looking to conquer the world of rhythm and melody in India, she understands that competition is bitingly ferocious with movie stars like Priyanka Chopra making their way into the music world now. A struggle that does not fatigue her spirit just yet or places her lower on the invisible ladder that exists in the Indian music industry.
Kakkar opens up about an aspect of Bollywood that many seem to turn a blind eye to: do female playback singers get the pat on the back that they deserve in the industry? She is not all that sure.
Clearly not a big fan of the recent item numbers that have been making the rounds in radio stations and weddings, Kakkar calls it a “cheap” rendition of music. Hip-swaying? Alright.
Degrading? Certainly so, if we had to go by Kakkar’s views. She refuses to go down that Fevicol road knowing that it comes at a cost, given their commercial success. “I would much rather find better ways to put forth my voice,” she shares before scrunching up her nose when asked about her opinion of the song Pinky.
A big fan of AR Rahman, a composer she once had the chance to briefly work with, Kakkar is looking to sing her way to people’s hearts without having to compromise on the content of her releases. “Style with substance,” she calls it. Ambitious much? Certainly so. Refreshingly, even.