Ishq wala love…, the romantic number from Karan Johar’s Student of the Year, is one song that still lingers in the mind of a music lover. It’s hard to believe that it was Neeti Mohan’s first song as a playback singer. The movie, which launched the career for three promising actors of Bollywood, was also the most crucial turning point for Neeti, who has now become a singing sensation of the Hindi film industry. As talent knows no boundaries, Neeti too has surpassed every barrier, be it her lack of fluency in the multiple languages in which she has sung seamlessly or the difference in the kind of music that is made in different film industries. As she puts it, “I like when it’s a bit hectic. Even though I work hard to render all my songs, non-Hindi songs need a bit more attention, which I feel gives me a chance to shape my vocal skills in different genres.” Neeti was in Kochi for a corporate gig and in a candid conversation, she reveals her love for Kerala, the kind of music created in Mollywood, and the food. The playback singer, who has sung in all South Indian languages except Malayalam, says that it is one of her biggest dreams to sing a Malayalam song that will enable her to understand Carnatic music and its compositions in a much more intricate manner.
Getting vocal about her visit to Kerala, one of her favourite places, Neeti says, “I have been to Kochi many times. Apart from performances, I have also been here for a family vacation and every visit deepens my faith in the lines ‘Gods own country’. It is a soothing sight that my eyes get each time I visit here. The greenery, friendly people and delicious food keep me wanting to come here again and again.”
“Kochi is a comparatively less busy city, which has not yet got carried away by the metropolitan culture. But the young crowd that I have seen is insanely energetic. It was actually very refreshing to have performed for the people of Kochi.”
The singer started her career after winning a reality show wherein the winners were required to form a band. The band Asma became an overnight sensation with their first song itself. However, the lack of more projects persuaded the members to look for individual work. Ask Neeti about her journey so far from forming the band and then letting it go, she says, “It has been a dream run, I would say. Though I always knew that I wanted to sing, playback singing was not something I had dreamt of, mainly because it was a tough task without a mentor in the film industry. As far as disintegration of our band is concerned, it was the individual decision of our band members to look for independent opportunities, which all of us respected and believed in. I strongly believe that one needs to take right decisions at the right time to be successful in life. Breaking the comfort zone, for that matter, is just the first step. There is no other way out to improve your craft and stand out in the crowd. Reality shows are a platform where people having various talents are getting a chance to show the world that they exist.
People might praise you for a particular performance, but will forget you once they see another person performing well. Therefore, if you want to stay here and make your presence felt, only constant hard work and improvising your skills can help you achieve it. Winning a reality show might open a door towards your dream, but you have to walk there all by yourself.”
Neeti adds that she is in a content space where she is getting ample time to do playback singing as well as make singles and collaborate with various composers and musicians who are veterans in the field. Ask about her recent collaborations and an overwhelmed Neeti says that the lyrical video of Gaandha Kannazhagi, a duet with Anirudh for the upcoming Tamil movie Namma Veetu Pillai, has been released and the responses from the fans are humbling. The singer adds that associating with ace music composer D. Imman is yet another milestone in her career. “I can’t explain in words the energy that the composer and Anirudh have tucked into Gaandha Kannazhagi. The song is a peppy number with the vibe of a folk song. It was a fun collaboration and I am taking back many tips from both of them that I feel is going to help me throughout my career,” she says, adding that she does multiple rehearsals along with the music directors every time she sings a non-Hindi song and tries to understand the lyrics as much as she can in order to get her pronunciation as real as
Ask her about the song Bad Boy from Saaho for which she has collaborated with rap king Baadshah, Neeti says that working with hugely talented people like him makes her fall in love with music again and again. The singer stresses that she is also a great fan of Malayalam music and Mollywood is all about melodies, which according to Neeti, is very difficult to create. “I have always considered A. R. Rahman as my mentor and have loved his songs ever since my childhood irrespective of the fact that I didn’t understand their lyrics. I feel his compositions speak for themselves and that is all what is required for anyone to become a fan of his music.”
She adds that she hopes to sing more often in South Indian languages and is looking forward to come back to Kerala soon, but would be
happier if it was for singing for a Malayalam movie.