Jonita Gandhi has given some amazing music to her fans, including ‘Bhankas’ (Baaghi 3), ‘Pink Gulaabi Sky’ (The Sky Is Pink), Gilehriyaan (Dangal), ‘The Breakup Song’ (Ae Dil Hai Mushkil), ‘Sau Tarah Ke’ (Dishoom) and many more. Apart from being a fabulous singer, she is a social media sensation as well. In an exclusive chat with us, Jonita talks about music influences during her growing up years, how lockdown made an impact on her music and creativity, and the struggles she has faced so far. Excerpt from the interview:
Tell us about your music influences while growing up in Toronto.
When I was a little girl, there was always music playing in our house. From the old classics to the current Bollywood tracks of the time, and even some of my parents' favourite English songs. My dad is also a musician by hobby and while preparing for gigs he would play the greatest hits of Lataji, Kishore Kumar, and later AR Rahman, Sonu Nigam, etc. At the same time, I grew up listening to western artistes like Christina Aguilera, Beyonce and Destiny’s Child, Shakira, and, of course, NSYNC, and The Backstreet Boys! No matter what it was I was listening to, I would often find myself singing along. I trained in western vocals at the Ontario Conservatory of music, and honed my skills with Indian songs through diligent practice at home.
With live shows taking a huge hit, how has the lockdown made an impact on your work and creativity?
Being at home for a long stretch of time finally gave me the opportunity to work on some of the things I always wanted to but just didn’t have enough time to do because of tours and juggling tight schedules pre-Covid. I was finally able to set up my home studio and start exploring songwriting more, and produce more content that I otherwise couldn’t. As much as I love the adrenaline of performing live, I’ll be honest that the forced break was quite needed. It also gave me the opportunity to re-evaluate my priorities. Thankfully, throughout the lockdown I had a constant inflow of work because as artistes, there’s a lot more that we do beyond live shows.
Have you faced any struggles in your career?
This is a highly competitive industry and one of the challenges is staying relevant, and setting yourself apart from the rest. Initially, one of the things that was difficult to overcome was getting people to trust that my accent when I spoke English would not carry through when I would sing in Hindi or other Indian languages. But, thankfully, over time opportunities arose for me to be able to showcase my ability to adapt to different languages and genres. Ultimately, my versatility opened up a lot more doors.
Is it tough to be always in the limelight? Do the number of likes, dislikes, and views on your song affect you?
Initially it was a bit tough when I first started to notice things popping up online unexpectedly. It felt almost as though I couldn’t ever let my guard down. But I’ve learnt to be who I am and not be so concerned over time. Regarding the view counts and likes, it’s hard to completely ignore the numbers because sometimes they’re the only measurable way of knowing if our music is reaching people or not. And now with the rise of vanity metrics, it’s tough to bypass the feeling of “competing” with songs that have thousands of dollars backing them in marketing support, versus independent releases.
What more are you doing?
I’m currently working on some independent music that I’m looking forward to releasing really soon. I’ve got something special releasing on my YouTube channel for Christmas, so stay tuned! And of course, you can catch me from Monday to Saturday on Star Plus as a mentor on a show called 'Taare Zameen Par' alongside Shankar Mahadevan ji and Tony Kakkar!