“I didn't plan it. I didn't think I would be a playback singer. Maybe that's why I became an accidental singer.” This is what Bollywood playback singer Nikhita Gandhi has to say about herself. The honeyed and euphonic voice behind hit songs like Burj Khalifa, Aao Kabhi Haveli Pe, Qafirana, Raabta, and many others.
In a recent appearance on Jay-Ho! The Jay Kumar Show, Nikhita Gandhi unveiled her upcoming projects and recounted how, despite studying dentistry, she ended up becoming a singer. Nikhita said that she has loved music since she was a young girl. Although she has learnt Odissi dance and Hindustani music, she has never had aspirations of being a singer.
She asserts, "I actually enrolled for A.R. Rahman Sir's school, not to study music but to do something different from studies, while I was attending dental school in Chennai. And ever since I was a child, I've loved music. I joined a band in college, thus I enrolled at A.R. Rahman Sir's school simply for escape and to continue music as a way to unwind from studying. Then I went to the choir's audition. One of my auditions had been heard by Rahman Sir. Then he called me for a few little tasks. I performed a few background songs in various movies before cutting to the day my first solo song with him was released. I didn't plan it. I never imagined myself singing professionally. I guess that's how I ended up becoming an accidental singer.”
Talking to host Jay Kumar, Nikhita shared about her stressful phase during college first year. Besides, she expressed gratitude to her parents for being supportive. Nikhita says, “In my first year of college, I remember it was the end of my first year. I was very depressed, I felt very out of place in my college. I said, I don't like the people, I don't like the teachers, I love the subject but I don't like anything else about where I am. I called my parents and said, I feel like applying to a music school, I feel like I am in the wrong place. My parents were okay with it. They encouraged me to apply abroad in whatever subject I was interested in. So, at every milestone and hesitation they have been there. I am so grateful to them because they have made my journey so beautiful.”
Nikhita began her musical career in the Tamil film industry. Later, her voice's charm travelled to Bollywood, where she got her big break as playback singer for the title track Raabta (Raabta film). She lent her voice for Deepika Padukone and for this song Nikhita was adjudged as “Best Female Playback Singer of the Year” by Zee Cine Awards 2018.
Nikhita Gandhi has a voice that can make you groove and that can make you feel the depth of words. She is distinctive from others due to her distinctive, silky voice. Nikhita mentions the renowned singer Usha Uthup when discussing originality. The "queen of pop," whose uniqueness was infused with multiple layers of Indian history and heritage, was known for more than just her assertive voice.
Nikhita says, “She is a very close friend of my parents. I relate to the fact that she does have a unique style and she sticks to it. But, what attracts me most about her is her personality. Her personality has been an inspiration to me more than anything. She is extremely talented and she has survived the industry in a time when it was difficult to be the kind of singer that she is. In those times, there were only Lata Ji and Asha ji, very soprano, very typical kind of voices. There was a stereotype about how a playback singer should sound. And then came Usha ji (Usha Uthup) and she broke stereotypes. And I have seen her telling stories about how she used to be a nightclub singer but she had to wear sarees. And she owned it, she proved that rules don't apply, you make your own rules, based on what is comfortable to you. Wearing a saree in a night club is her rule, so it doesn;t matter whether it goes by society or norms.”