Neha Kakkar, who has lent her voice to party anthems like “Aaj Blue Hai Paani” [from Yaariyan], “Second Hand Jawani” [in Cocktail], and “Kala Chashma” [in Baar Baar Dekho] among others, speaks to Guardian 20 about her recent association with the special season of T-Series MixTape Punjabi .

Q. You have been a part of Mixtape earlier this year as well. How different was your experience of MixTape Punjabi?

A. Since Mixtape Season 1 has done really well and people have liked all the songs including mine, I am quite excited to be a part of this edition too. With this being [of T-Series MixTape Punjabi] a special edition, it’s going to be with Punjabi tadka.

I am a part of two episodes this time. One is with Gippy Grewal and Hardy Sandhu on their songs “Car Nachdi” and “Horn Blow”, and the other episode is with Guru Randhawa on his songs “High Rated Gabru” and “Banja Tu Meri Rani”. All these songs have done extremely well and it’s an honour to be associated with these esteemed artists and to perform to their songs, too.

Q. What is that special twist music director Abhijit Vaghani has given to the two mashups?

A. Music director Abhijit Vaghani has done a fantastic job. He has given it his all which will be very evident when you see it. Having worked with him in the first season, he has raised the bar for this special Punjabi edition.

In fact, for this season he has convinced me to do something I have never done before. I am rapping for the first time ever. Having done playback singing and live performances for so many years, I am rapping for the first time. I am rapping Bohemia’s part in Gippy Grewal’s song “Car Nachdi”. Post the shoot, Vaghani  even complimented me suggesting that I should consider rapping at an international level, which was extremely humbling.

Q. You have worked with a lot of singers and music directors. But how is it like teaming up with your sister Sonu and brother Tony. How different is that?

A. Working with your siblings is always special. The comfort zone with them is on another level. So, working with them is like chilling and enjoying. That’s the best experience.

Q. You made your mark through a reality show [Indian Idol season 2]. How do you think reality shows, and their appeal to the audiences, have changed over the years?

A. I don’t think it has changed because the excitement is still the same. In fact, in the recent show I did—Sa Re Ga Ma Pa—I was one of the judges. The show broke all records. It was the longest-running reality show ever. And for Indian Idol I got an amazing response. For Sa Re Ga Ma Pa I got an even better response. So there is no change in appeal.

“I definitely miss Delhi. I keep on doing a lot of music that Delhi people also love. They love Punjabi music, which I keep doing. So that’s great.”

Q.You have not received formal training in singing. Has that ever bothered you?

A. Not at all. My experience has taught me a lot. I started singing at the tender age of four and now I am in my 20s. So for almost 15 years I have been singing. From being a contestant to now being a judge in a singing reality show, you get to know what you are doing and how you are good at your work.

Q. You have gained popularity with your party numbers. But do you think you are being typecast into singing within a particular genre of music for films?

A. There is no typecast at all. I have also sung [the reprised version of songs] “Mile Ho Tum Humko”, “Mahi Ve” “Wajah Tum Ho” and others. I am singing more of such songs. So definitely I have not been typecast.

Q. You were born and brought up in Delhi. Has the city influenced you musically?

A. I definitely miss Delhi. I keep on doing a lot of music that Delhi people also love. They love Punjabi music, which I keep doing. So that’s great.

Q. Starting off as a contestant to now being a judge in a reality singing show,  and having as well given several chartbusters, how has your overall journey been? 

A. My journey has been great. I feel like I am living my dream. Whatever I am doing, everything is turning into gold. I never thought that from a contestant I would become a judge. Initially, I thought I would sing one or two songs for a movie, but so many songs back to back, I dint expect that. In fact, I was the only female singer in Judwaa 2 [2017]. These days it’s very difficult for a single singer to sing the songs in one movie because with so many music directors it’s likely that there will be a lot of singers. So I guess people love
my voice.

Q. Your selfie video created a storm when it first appeared on social media. “Vertical videos” are the latest trend and have been appreciated by the audiences. In this regard, how important do you think the aesthetics of shooting is in a video album, and how important is to continue coming up with new trends? 

A. I feel whatever you are showing to the audience, it should be natural. Don’t try to be fake. There are a lot of people who try to copy me in their videos, which is very sweet. Ideally everyone has their own identity. So one should try doing their own stuff on their comfort level.

Q. You have worked with the best contemporary singers and music composers in the industry. Are there any singers or composers from the yesteryear that you would have liked to

work with?

A. I would have loved to work with Nadeem-Shravan [music composer duo of the mid-’90s]. I love their work.

Q. Please talk to us about your upcoming projects?

A. Lots of them, but I don’t like to discuss about them before they are out. I feel they can get jinxed. So, when the time is right I shall discuss. But I am working not only on movie songs, but also on singles.

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