Always a singer

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Jonita GandhiPhoto: K.C. Sowmish
Jonita GandhiPhoto: K.C. Sowmish

“Kahaan Hoo Main” is a song which can take “you into the realm of spirituality and lead to self-realisation”, says Jonita Gandhi, an Indo-Canadian singer who has sung this number in Imtiaz Ali’s upcoming “Highway”. She considers that her two songs in the film will help in her foray in playback singing. Her second song in the movie is “Implosive silence”, which she says is expressive without lyrics. Singing under the baton of A. R. Rahman in “Highway” Jonita thanks him and remarks that it was “easy to work with him”

Trained in Western classical music, this India-born singer says she has learned a lot on her own and by listening to various types of music and at present is undergoing training in Indian classical music.

She has had the privilege of singing for the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer “Chennai Express” — her debut film — along with the legendary S.P. Balasubramanyam in the title track. Recalling the experience, she says it felt “unreal”. A graduate in business administration, Jonita does not want to limit herself to Bollywood and recently has sung two Bengali songs. In a conversation, she shared some of her experiences with the team of “Highway” and also about her future ventures:

You have sung with music maestro A.R Rahman in “Highway”. He is in a class of his own so how did you prepare yourself?

I could not do much to prepare before I recorded for “Highway”, because I didn’t really even know what I was being called to sing. In a way, however, I’d like to think that I’ve been preparing for this my entire life — performing and recording since I was a child, I’ve been working on my voice and performance for several years. Fortunately Rahman sir was extremely down to earth and easy to work with, and he did not leave me much room to worry about being prepared.

Your track “Implosive Silence” in “Highway” seems to be very different. What type of song is it Also what is the mood of “Kahaan hoon main”? Its lyrics seem philosophical. The song “Implosive silence” is hard to describe; it is a song that I think will come alive when people hear it in the film. It isn’t a song that requires lyrics — it is very expressive in itself, and portrays the emotions felt by the characters in the film. Even though the film is yet to be released, it has received a really great response, as people are able to feel the various emotions portrayed. I would say that “Kahaan hoon main” rather than being philosophical is very spiritual. It is about a girl who is facing new experiences which make her question aspects of her life and journey. It is a song about inner reflection and self-realisation, which are themes that everyone can relate to.

You have completed your degree in business administration and are pursuing a career in singing. What prompted you to do so?

I actually completed two undergraduate degrees concurrently (honours in business administration and a Bachelor’s degree in health sciences) before embarking on a career in music full time. I always knew I wanted to be a singer, but to establish a firm backup plan, it was important for me to first complete my education.

Your debut was with an established singer S.P. Balasubramanyam and in a SRK film. Did it make you nervous?

The experience was, of course, very exciting for me. Growing up in Canada, I always felt that the film industry was far away, and getting to sing a duet with the legendary SPB, and that too for an SRK film, it felt unreal. I’m thankful to Vishal-Shekhar for giving me this opportunity to be heard by the Indian masses. It was a great entry for me into the Bollywood playback world.

Do you write? Have you ever tried to write your own lyrics?

I have been writing lyrics for some time now. It’s new for me and thus I find it challenging.

I find it really hard to write something that I actually approve of, and so it is a slow process. I am working on original work now and will hopefully have something to share within the coming year.




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