Exclusive interview: Jonita Gandhi reveals the best compliment she has received from ‘gem of a human’ AR Rahman | Hindi Movie News

Jonita Gandhi, who has been a voice behind some popular tracks like, ‘Kahaan Hoon Main’, ‘Chennai Express’ and others, has successfully carved a niche for herself in the Hindi music industry. In an exclusive interview with ETimes, the singer opens up about her latest track, receiving the best compliment of her life from AR Rahman, Bollywood’s music scene, and more. Excerpts…

When and how did you get interested in music?
Probably from the womb! I have been singing and dancing around the house since even before I could speak properly. I started performing at the age of four and there was no turning back from the stage since then.

What were the roadblocks you faced when you decided to pursue a career in music?
When I first came to India, I had no connections in Bollywood. I had to learn the ropes on my own and work hard.

How did you venture into films and how has your journey been so far?
My debut film song was the title track for ‘Chennai Express’ for Vishal-Shekhar. It happened unexpectedly when I had a chance to meet with Vishal Dadlani at his studio. A few months later, my next few film songs were for AR Rahman sir. I remember being in complete disbelief when I received the call to fly out to Rahman sir’s studio in Chennai shortly after appearing with Clinton Cerejo on Coke Studio for the song ‘Pinjra’. I am grateful for the vast opportunities I have had so far with film music and look forward to all that’s to come in the future.


Tell us something about your latest track, ‘Meherma’…
‘Meherma’ is a beautiful song for which I’ve collaborated with two very talented friends of mine: Samira Koppikar and Shashwat Singh. It’s a very romantic song. I feel like I sound different in this song than in the other songs I’ve sung. Shashwat has also delivered the song with such a romantic charm!

What attracted you to be a part of the song?
Samira and I have been looking to collaborate with each other for some time now. I received a call from her directly and was happy to be on board. Initially, I had recorded the song during the lockdown with my home set-up. When things started to open up again, it was just in time for us to safely get into the studio together for the final recording.

Do you think there is a dearth of female composers in the music industry?
There are definitely not as many female composers in the Bollywood music industry. But we are slowly seeing more female artists explore composing for non-film releases. Hopefully, we will see more and more females composing for films in the future too.

You have sung in various languages. How do you manage to pull it off?
I approach learning lyrics phonetically and take help from those around me in the studio while I’m learning a song and recording.

Who has been the biggest inspiration in your life?
My parents have been my biggest inspiration. I am who I am today only because of the role models they have been and continue to be for me.

What are your thoughts on the trend of remakes and remixes in Bollywood?
I think it is okay to remake or remix a song as unofficial releases or covers, but it would be nice if film songs were original.

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You are one of the fortunate singers to have got an opportunity to work with AR Rahman. How is he, as a musician and as a person?
AR Rahman sir is a gem of a human. I have learned so much about myself and my capabilities as a singer throughout my experiences working with him, both in the studio and on stage.

The song which is closest to your heart…
‘Kahaan Hoon Main’ from the film ‘Highway’ is very close to my heart. The song was composed by AR Rahman sir.

What is the biggest compliment you have received for your voice and from whom?
Rahman sir, in an interview, once said, “She’s pitch-perfect. She can sing anything”. That was the biggest compliment I have ever received.

What’s next?
I have a few independent singles on the way and I’m extremely excited to share them with you all.

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