Neeti Mohan arrived with a bang in 2012 with two chartbusters in the form of ‘Jiya Re’ from JAB TAK HAI JAAN and ‘Ishq Wala Love’ from STUDENT OF THE YEAR and since then there has been no looking back for her.
From recently released songs like ‘Bang Bang’ (BANG BANG) and ‘Indiawaale’ (HAPPY NEW YEAR) to ‘Tu Hi Tu’ (KICK), ‘Tune Maari Entriyaan’ (GUNDAY), ‘Kashmir Main Tu Kanyakumari’ (CHENNAI EXPRESS) among many others, Neeti has indeed come a long way.
Though she is busy with her recordings and performing at live shows, we managed to pin down Neeti for an exclusive chat with us for special section Music Mania. Excerpts:
Do you think you took long to make it big in Bollywood?
I think everybody is on their own journey. And I feel that because I didn’t have any connection in Bollywood, so I had to take my own time and then establish myself. All I did was took part in a reality show and moved to Mumbai. Then I started working with A.R. Rahman sir and since 2012 I have been singing in Bollywood.
Did you ever feel like giving up in your struggling phase?
No I never felt like giving up. I never would have given up even if I would have never sung in the films which I have done. Because I do music as it is my passion and it is not in my control to achieve what I can. I just work hard and do what I love doing.
You did a small stint with acting in SOCHA NA THA. So did you have plans to pursuing it further?
No. I was not going to act in the film. But that time I was assisting Ashley Lobo, who was the choreographer for the film, so for only that project he asked me to come down. Otherwise I have never tried my hand at acting.
How did you manage to get your big break?
I didn’t do anything. I was just called to sing. And I feel that is how songs happen. Just sing it the way a music director asks you to and I just did that. I didn’t know what STUDENT OF THE YEAR was, I didn’t even know about the film’s star cast. ‘Ishq Wala Love’ and ‘Jiya Re’ happened at a stage when I wasn’t aware for which film it is being recorded. All I knew were the music directors.
Will it be true to say that getting the first break is important and the rest just follows?
In some ways yes, but in lot of cases, the one like actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui and so many other actors have been struggling since long. They have done so many films, but when the right film happened, they have come into notice. First break is important, but then the industry is such that you never know what works when.
Your song ‘Tu Hi Tu’ from KICK was loved by all. How was your experience?
I met Himesh Reshammiya last year in August and we recorded this song. He didn’t tell me that it was for KICK. I didn’t know it was a Salman Khan film. He just asked me to sing it in my style. He had mentioned to me that he had loved the openness in ‘Jiya Re’. I recorded and then I didn’t know it was finalized for the film. Then just two months before the release of the film I came to know that the song was going in KICK. He loved my version of the song and that was a great compliment coming from Himesh Reshammiya. After that I sung many songs for him like ‘Caller Tune’, ‘Look Into My Eyes’ and for his film THE XPOSE. In fact, this was the very first song I sang for Himesh Reshammiya, which released the last.
Are you consciously trying to sing various genres so that you don’t get stereotyped?
I don’t think I really have a choice. When a music director makes a song, they have a singer in mind, so there is nothing that I can choose. I am not doing it consciously but yes I am getting different songs to sing. In terms of selecting, I don’t do it but I try to sound different in every song.
After ‘Tune Maari Entriyaan’, you are again teaming up with Vishal and KK for ‘Indiawaale’. How was it recording for a SRK film?
After I recorded, I came to know it was for HAPPY NEW YEAR. I have also sung for the Tamil and Telugu version of this song. It was great and loved the song instantly.
You are also singing for BOMBAY VELVET. Can you tell us about it?
Right now I can’t talk about it. But when the time is right I will let you know.
You also had the opportunity of being a part of the historic episode of ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ with Amitabh Bachchan. Were you nervous for it?
We had met first time during the rehearsals and there was this script reading. So we had met two-three times before the main shoot. Obviously when I met Big B for the first time, I was in awe of him. He was very sweet, humble and he is a thorough professional, who made sure everybody is comfortable. Then everyone was fine and did what the script demanded. But it was a learning experience to watch Amitabh Bachchan perform live.
Singles are in vogue. Is that the reason you are coming up with them recently?
Not the album but I did two singles last year. I haven’t done anything this year. But very soon I will be coming up with a song with Hriday Gattani. He had a very good song and we have done it together. It is a love song and is called ‘I Just Met Somebody’. I also had two anthems. This Independence Day, I was lucky to be part of three songs. Firstly, Unite Anthem, where I have sung in Bengali, and it was a lovely song. I loved the spirit of the album. Second one was Animal Planet anthem. And it was great working with Salim-Sulaiman after ‘Chandu Ke Chacha’. Then ‘Solidarity’ song was also amazing. Then I was also part of World Music Day anthem. I am grateful to have been part of so many anthems.
How different is it to sing for regional?
In regional singing, you have to be very sure of pronunciation. Before I sing, I make sure to say the word million times, so that I don’t sound awkward when I sing it. I practice it a lot.
You seem to be very comfortable singing love songs. How romantic are you in personal life?
Artistes are generally very romantic. You are in love with your art, in my case music. I am very romantic in personal life.
You are in love with…?
Music… (laughs). No I am absolutely single. Nobody believes me, but trust me I am single. Now a days you don’t know but aise bhi hota hai. Actually right now my entire focus is on music. After waiting for so many years, there is so much music happening, so my entire focus is on music and not on romance. I am romancing with music.
How supportive are your parents towards your career and your decisions about your personal life?
They have always been very supportive. Earlier they used to feel the pressure that they have four daughters and they should get us married, but my father hasn’t given into any pressure. And I respect that a lot, because for any father to support his daughters to be in this line is in itself a big thing. Their support is what keeps us – Shakti, Mukti, Kriti and me going. So whenever I can take them along, I do that.
Your sisters – Mukti and Shakti have won hearts in ‘Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa’. Will we see you participate in that kind of a show?
No, because I am not a dancer. You require lot of dedication and hard work. Mukti and Shakti have shaken a leg together but in my case that is not happening. But I was there to cheer for Shakti at the finale.
Since you are trained in dancing, do you ever plan to come back to it?
It has been really long since I danced last. Music and dance is something which needs practice. And though the basics have stayed, I cannot perform at shows like Jhalak or DID, because the level of dancing there is different. I don’t think I have that much stamina and time to do that. Currently, I am too busy doing music.
If not a singer, what profession would you have pursued?
I was going to join Indian Army. I had already applied for it. I am a very patriotic person, and had joined NCC. I have done lot of camps and stayed in Chennai and trained for rifle shooting. I used to be a tough girl, I still am. I thought I would serve for Indian army. But then destiny had some other plans for me.
One actress you would want to lend your voice to?
I want to sing for Madhuri Dixit.