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" I feel singing is like acting " Interview with the mesmerizing Playback Singer Nikhita Gandhi

© Nikhita Gandhi
Nikhita Gandhi (born 2 October 1991) is an Indian playback singer who has worked in Indian films in four different languages. She has worked on Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Bengali, and Kannada film projects. She sang as the face of Deepika Padukone in Raabta for the title track "Raabta". Her song " Ullu ka Pattha" dual with Arijit Singh from the film Jagga Jasoos is a hit song. She sang for Sachin: A Billion Dreams, Chef, Jab Harry Met Sejal, and Ittefaq. She also sang a Bengali song "Mithe Alo" with Atif Aslam for Cockpit. She has been adjudged as the best female playback singer of the year by Zee Cine Awards 2018 for the title track of Raabta (film).
She was nominated for best playback singer (female) category in the 63rd Filmfare Awards for her song "Ghar" from Jab Harry Met Sejal. She was also nominated for best playback singer (female) in the 3rd Filmfare Awards East for her Bengali song "Tomra Ekhono Ki" from Meghnad Badh Rahasya. In November 2018 she did playback for the hit song Qaafirana from the film Kedarnath starring Sushant Singh Rajput and Sara Ali Khan. In April 2019, she won the Nestle Kitkat Sony Mix Audience Music Award for the best duet for Qaafirana from Kedarnath along with Arijit Singh
In April 2019, she released her single Ek Do Teen on Zee Music Company that has been composed by Raees & Zain - Sam, she later followed it up with Madari from the film The Extraordinary Journey of The Fakir along with Vishal Dadlani in June 2019 and followed it up with Main Deewana Tera from Arjun Patiala.
© Nikhita Gandhi

RK : First of all thanks a lot for accepting our invitation for an interview. it’s a great pleasure to have you as our Guest. Let’s start from the first question …When did you first gravitate to music? Did you always know that you wanted to have a career in music or you had some other plans?

Nikita : Music is sensory for a Bengali child from Kolkata, we eat, we breathe and we soak ourselves in art and music! Having said that, the career part was a happy turn of events! I’m still overwhelmed that I’m getting to do this when I wake up everyday!

RK : Who has been your greatest guide, support and source of inspiration in music? Who’s been standing beside you through your ups and downs?

Nikhita : My mom and dad, hands down! Right from my childhood they’ve nurtured all my interests in dance and music. My dad has a phenomenal voice and is a Kishore Kumar fan, and a lot of my passion for music stems from his. My mom has always been the buffer, the critique. She would give ( and continues to give) unbiased feedback to both my dad and me, every step of the way. She’s the voice that keeps me grounded.

© Nikhita Gandhi

RK : Do you follow or incorporate any particular singer’s style in your rendition? Who is your favorite international artiste and what quality attracts you to him/her?

Nikhita : I’ve had a lot of inspirations, and they keep changing and adding to the list as I keep evolving! I remember my first exposure to international music was a mixtape my cousin brother made me of his favorite rock bands like P.O.D, Creed, 3 Doors Down etc. I started listening to a lot of Norah Jones, Alicia Keys, Ella Fitzgerald... those were my earlier influences.

RK : Tell us about your first break in Bollywood and how it all happened.

Nikhita : Raabta. I still can’t believe it! Such a huge song, that to picturized on Deepika, and I got to sing it!

Well I was singing some scratches for Pritam da when I was visiting Bombay (I was living in Chennai and interning part time in a Dental clinic there), and they tried me out for Raabta. I still remember the feeling when I was recording, the voice in my head kept saying “why are they even trying you for this?! This song HAS to be sung by someone famous!” I owe so much to Pritam da and Dinesh Sir for proving that voice wrong!

© Nikhita Gandhi

RK : You got a breakthrough by performing the song "Ladio" from Shankar's film ‘I’ (2015). Composed by A. R. Rahman, What was it like to work with the living legend A.R. Rahman and how it all happened.

Nikhita : Every time I entered the studio to sing for AR Sir, I remind myself that this is a life experience like no other! Some people witness shooting stars, some people get to travel to the moon, and got to work with him! ( I was still in college, so never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that he would change my life altogether!)

RK : Seems like language is never a barrier for you. You have won the 3rd Filmfare Awards East award for the Bengali song "Tomra Ekhono Ki" from Meghnad Badh Rahasya directed by Aneek Dutta. Apart from Hindi and Bengali, you have also sung in several other languages like Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada. How do you manage this?

Nikhita : I feel singing is like acting. When you are expressing and emoting in another language, the actor in you comes to play. You have to become the character and speak that language in your singing to get the true vibe!

© Nikhita Gandhi

RK : Working with Dinesh Vijan, fetched you a winning streak as you bagged the Zee Cine Award 2018 award for the title track of 'Raabta' . What was it like to work with Arijit Singh in that movie? When you recorded the track, did you feel that the song is going to be a massive hit?

Nikhita : The song was already a massive hit. Raabta was a song people already knew and loved so I think the challenge was to live up to the expectations. Thankfully the audience was very warm and loving to the sound of a fresh voice! Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have a larger-than-life singer like Arijit duet with you ! Speaking of Arijit, he is so instrumental in keeping my sincerity to my art intact !

RK : As an individual artist, what genres of music are you interested in exploring?

Nikhita : I’m quite a jack of all trades in this aspect ( hopefully not master of none). My singing styles have been paradoxes. I sing jazz, sufi, classical, soul, pop... I humbly try them all!

RK : These days it’s not enough for a singer to sing. They must also perform. Do you enjoy this aspect of it.

Nikhita : I love being on stage. I love performing. I’ve been an Odissi dancer for over 10 years too, in fact dance was my first love and then music. So for me, the combined art is always a joy!

© Nikhita Gandhi

RK : Are you doing any musical collaboration?

Nikhita : I am always collaborating and writing and learning! I’m currently working on 2-3 albums. One in particular is interesting because it’s a collection of songs I’ve written before becoming a professional singer and I’m collaborating with a lot of indie artists on that!

RK : Did you have any incident where you think if you’d taken it, life would’ve been completely different. If yes, what was it?

Nikhita : When I was at the crossroad of choosing my bachelors degree I had the option of going to Singapore on a half scholarship and studying nanotechnology and fulfilling my dream of being a scientist.

I chose to stay in India and study dentistry in Chennai and that’s where I met AR Sir. The rest as you know is...

RK : You have done numerous live performances as well as studio recordings . Which of these two you enjoy more and why.

Nikhita : I enjoy both to be honest. One requires a lot of concentration and precision and it’s all about getting the right take. In live shows it’s about the soul and connect with the audience. Both are equally exhilarating!

© Nikhita Gandhi

RK : Give us 5 fun facts people might not know about you yet.

Nikhita : I was a nerd and a topper in school and never took a simple tuition.

I used to eat bananas in my sleep as a kid.

I had a goth phase and loved Evanescence.

I have a PG diploma in Forensic Dentistry.

I sometimes speak and sing to my plants while watering them because research shows they respond to sound waves.

RK : We (Retro Kolkata) are trying to build one single stage for all the artists, because we believe that artists are the most beautiful creation of God and geographical boundary can never break their unity and harmony. Please say something about our initiative and any special message for your followers.

Nikhita : All I can say is thank you for the love and nurturing our passion . None of this makes sense if there is no one to love it.


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