Nikhita: Rahman sir is an endless sea of talent’

Nikhita Gandhi speaks about her latest track ‘Raabta’, her learning stint with the musical legend and her journey in music so far

avsShe is a dentist by profession, has sung quite a few songs in the South and has been a student of AR Rahman’s KM College of Music and Technology. Nikhita Gandhi is making her dream debut with the title track of Raabta starring Sushant Singh Rajput and Kriti Sanon. In a candid interview she speaks about her Bollywood debut, her inclination towards music and more…

Tell us something about the title song of Raabta.
I think the most important thing I could say about it is irrespective of having sung it, I love that song, and there is this really happy addictive vibe about it. And it’s not just me; I get this same feedback from so many people! Having said that, to be the voice of it, I think adds a whole other high for me. I don’t think it has sunk in for me yet that something this huge has happened.

How did you bag the song?
I happened to be in Bombay for some other work when I got a call from Pritam Da’s studio. I went to the studio with the very nonchalant temperament that it’s just a dub, nothing permanent or serious. Little did I know then and boy was I wrong!

Did you know that the song is going to be picturised on Deepika Padukone?
When I was first briefed about the song they said Deepika might be the face of it. It’s a good thing that it worked out because she looks fantabulous.

Your debut Hindi song, in a film of this stature, to be picturised on one of the best actresses on Bollywood, how does it feel?
It feels unbelievable! So unbelievable that every time a friend sends me a video of them catching Raabta on their television, or it randomly plays on my iTunes ‘Today’s Hits’, I skip a beat and still wallow in my disbelief.

Are you a trained singer?
Yes. I’ve trained in Hindustani classical music since my childhood. Though, if I might add, I got a lot of inspiration in style from mostly listening to an array of music from Sufi to Rock to Jazz.

You are also a dentist by profession. Did you always have an inclination towards music?
I absolutely did! More therapeutic and recreational (say’s my practical brain). But it is an absolute joy to be able to pursue it professionally.

You have been a student of music legend AR Rahman. How is he as a mentor?
I had briefly done a short course in Western Classical at his institute while I was simultaneously doing my BDS in Chennai. The things I have learnt from Rahman Sir have been mostly at his studio during sessions. I have watched him compose songs from scratch, seen the way he operates, and it is so fascinating! He is an endless sea of talent, it would take me a lifetime to know even a fragment of what he does.

You have already made a mark down south by singing for some of the hit films of recent times. Do you find any difference in singing for the south industry and Bollywood?
There is of course the language. Singing in a language I do not speak or fully understand is a very exciting and challenging process, but I relish it. There is so much to learn about the beauty and intricacy of another language when you have to express it in song, and I think I feel quite blessed to have been accepted in the Industry in the South for doing so.

You have sung songs in Hindi, Telugu, Bengali and others. Are you well versed with the language? If not, how difficult is it to bring in the feel into the song without knowing the language?
Bengali of course, I know through and through, because I am a Calcutta girl, born and raised. Tamil and Telugu have been in my life since I moved to Chennai for college, and even though I can’t properly speak them, I really enjoy singing in them. I’ve gotten used to the pronunciations; even my friends from Chennai are impressed from time to time. I don’t think bringing in the feel of the song is difficult because I feel the connect with the music and the emotion of the tune is quite free of language. For example, there have been cases where I have dubbed the same song in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu, so in that case language has no barrier, because all that takes you through it is the feel!

What are the top three things in your bucket list right now?
Drop a single, meet and collaborate with as many musicians as I can and find a place to live in Bombay.

Who are the music directors you dream to work with?
Rahman Sir and Pritam da really set the bar high on that one. But jokes aside, there are so many fabulous music directors and composers I would absolutely love to work with. There’s Amit Trivedi who I have met and his music is so organic I would love to have a song with him. I’m also a huge admirer of Vishal Bhardwaj ji’s music. I also love the arrangements of Clinton Cerejo and musicality of Vishal Dadlani and would love to work with them.

What are your opinions on the actors and actresses singing in the movies lately?
I think it’s great! It gives me the confidence and encouragement to try acting.

Tell us something about your upcoming projects.
There is another song in the pipeline which would be releasing sometime in June. Apart from film music, I do write my own music and am currently working on singles. Hope they see the light of day.

-Milana Rao

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