It is early in the morning and Neha Kakkar has just woken up. Despite being sleepy, she is adamant to do the interview, stating that she will get busy if we don’t talk now. But as soon as I mention her list of hit songs and how her voice is a part of every film today, Neha brightens up. I ask her the secret behind being omnipresent in every movie, and the vibrant singer says, “I think people really like my voice, the way I sing, the things I put in a song… Whenever I sing, I try to make it different, the sound that you’ve never heard before and put something new which people love. Maybe that’s the reason everyone wants me to sing for them.”
Neha, whose blockbuster discography includes songs like “Kala Chashma”, “Badri Ki Dulhania”, “Main Tera Boyfriend”, “Kar Gayi Chull” and “Aao Raja”, says the song “Mile Ho Tum Humko” composed by her brother Tony Kakkar is her personal favourite. “When I sang it, I was a little unsure about how people will like it. I am sounding completely different, very innocent thin voice like those old actresses. But I enjoyed the recording. And on its first day of release, it got one million views. It is a big thing when there is no Shah Rukh Khan, no Katrina Kaif in the video, it’s just me and my brother in the video.”
Taking a closer look, a lot of Neha’s recent tracks have been recreations. She says even if people claim it takes away the original song, they still hear it. “There are a lot of negative audience there on social media. They would comment on anything. But they are the ones who are dancing on all these songs. “Cheez Badi”, “Kala Chashma”, “Kar Gayi Chull”, “Maahi Ve”… All these songs, people love so much, and then they have to criticise also. It is like sex. They won’t talk about it, but they will do it,” Neha says revealing that she would want to see her song “Mile Ho” being recreated in Arijit Singh’s voice.
Neha’s latest project is with singers Guru Randhawa, Gippy Garewal and Harrdy Sandhu for Tseries MixTape Punjabi. She has also rapped in one of the collaborations for the first time. Being a part of the project which also includes big names like Hansraj Hans, Sukhwinder Singh, Mika Singh and Daler Mehandi, a thrilled Neha says, “It is always great to get associated with people who’ve been in the industry for such a long time. This project is all about bringing back those amazing Punjabi songs. When Guru Randhawa and I sang, people really liked our chemistry. In the other collaboration with Gippy Grewal, I did rap for the first time. I try to do different things which I’m happy people are loving.”
Watch | Neha Kakkar, Gippy Grewal and Harrdy Sandhu
Before entering the industry, Neha had participated in Indian Idol 2 (2006), which had music maestro Anu Malik as one of the judges. Interestingly, she got to sing with him in last year’s Judwaa 2 which had two of Anu’s iconic songs being revamped – “Chalti Hai Kya 9 Se 12” and “Oonchi Hai Building 2.0”. At the mention of this, Neha got excited and shared, “It was amazing though we didn’t record together. But it became one of the biggest hits of 2017. I feel so lucky that I’m getting to sing with these legendary singers.”
I asked her about her take on actors turning singers, and she quiped, “I’ll be very honest, the kind of songs they sing… I like Parineeti’s “Mana Ki”, it is one of my most favourite songs. Then Alia also sings well, Shraddha also sounds good… But when it comes to proper music and good songs, when it comes to difficult songs, they’ll call us only. So, there is no tension. Our business will never stop!”
In the candid conversation, Neha also revealed she faced groupism in her early days, until people understood her talent. She says, “When I entered the industry, it was about groupism. One music director is taking only his friend. Initially, I faced all that. But when they heard my voice and realised that my songs are different, they couldn’t stop. Now they call me if they want a song to be a hit (laughs)”
Watch | Oonchi Hai Building 2.0 Song | Judwaa 2
Revealing how music composers face pressure from producers-directors today, to compose a certain kind of music, Neha says, “It is about the producers, the directors who ask them to recreate a song, or compose in a certain way. So music directors don’t have much say today.”
Neha feels her happy-go-lucky attitude reflects in her work too making her one of the most flamboyant singers today. “I am a very energetic. I have fun during shootings and on stage. If you do things from heart, it reaches out to people,” she says.
With such a cute face and an equally adorable voice, why don’t we see Neha onscreen more often? “I feel great when people ask me this. You might see me in a movie sometime, let’s see. I really want a very good story. But you won’t see me doing that permanently. Just a movie here and there I can do.”
Sharing more about her upcoming plans, Neha says, “A lot of good songs and another good TV reality show because Sa Re Ga Ma went very well and helped me get so much love from across the world. Then, I’m also working on a very special single which will be mostly romantic, then some more songs. So, basically a lot of stuff.”
This 29-year-old singer has her hands-full as she signs off by crooning a song for me and saying she has to rush for the day. Here’s wishing her all the best!