Classical Modernisation

Akriti Kakar

You seem to have hit the right notes with almost every song sung by you from 2004 until today. Still, it took so much time for you to get recognition. What do you think was the reason behind it? 
I don’t think I ever had a benchmark that I had to cross to call myself recognised. When I entered this profession, I just wanted to sing to my heart’s content. I just wanted to work with the best people in the business and the ones that I looked up to. My journey has filled me with gratitude because I’ve got the opportunity to work with the most generous and talented people in the fraternity. So, whether it took time for me to get my recognition or not, I don’t think about that at all. I’ve not gotten type casted yet and that’s a big achievement. I believe my music is my calling card. 

You are often seen reviving old music tracks for your YouTube channel. Does your soul connect more with the classics or do you believe that today’s music does not have that essence? 
The practise of reviving old classics whether they are film tracks or folk songs, comes from a nostalgic chord in my heart. That fire also got fanned because of my audiences constantly requesting songs from that tangent. I started a series called “You choose I sing” across my social media, and I got many requests. I choose the ones close to my heart and bring them out through organically produced music and simplistic videos on my YouTube channel. The response that those tracks have got has been unreal. Every track crossed millions of views without any paid promotion. Just the power of music and word of mouth. 

You have sung in languages such as Hindi, Punjabi, and Bengali. How similar or different do you find the transposition in terms of accent, vibe, and rhythm? 
I’ve sung in Hindi, English, and many regional languages including but not limiting to Marathi, Gujarati, Sinhalese, Telugu, Punjabi, and more. It’s basically understanding the emotion in the lyrics and then focusing on the dialect. I pay special attention to getting it right. All my composers have worked very hard with me to make sure no one hearing the song ever says, “Oh this is a Punjabi girl singing in another language that she doesn’t know.”

Your sisters Sukriti and Prakriti are also popular names in Bollywood now. They are often seen performing as a duo, but we have never witnessed the trio. Any particular reason? Is it going to happen anytime soon?
My sisters and I have done numerous performances together. We keep it exclusive and don’t expose that act everywhere. To name a few, we played at the Melbourne Film Festival, Gaana Music Festival, Stree Shakti Awards, and many more. We believe in giving a completely different experience to the audience every time we play together. We have some big plans lined up that you’ll know more about in the coming months.

These days, there is a new wave of talented artists in the industry in terms of music, acting, screenplay and more. Do you feel the competition coming your way? How do you manage it? 
As far as the competition that’s cropping up around all of us these days is concerned, I’m someone who is hopelessly optimistic, and I feel I only want to be better than my own previous performance. If I perform a song today, the next time I sing it, it has to be better than the last time. That’s my only competition. I would rather look up to all the bigger talents in our industry, who have been sitting undisplaced for so many years. There is so much to learn from them. We have got to keep supporting each other and show the way. One should turn the insecurity into the fire of the belly that makes them work harder. 

If you hadn’t become a musician, what would you be doing right now?
If I wasn’t a musician I don’t know what I’d really be doing. Honestly, I never really gave it a thought. Even if I didn’t crack playback singing, I was sure I’d probably be back in Delhi teaching music or something. No other profession for sure. 

What is the best song you’ve ever released and why? 
Best song? I don’t know about that. A few of them are really close to my heart and I believe that’s what matters the most. 

Do you think you could get any better as a musician? If so, how would you achieve that? 
My guruji from whom I learnt music in Delhi said that, no one is perfect when it comes to music. He says that he is still learning at the age of 75, and I was10 at that time. Clearly there’s an ocean of music out there and I’m just a drop.

Any art calls for inspiration. Who is your role model and why? 
For me, it is my mother. She is the woman who fought to learn music and take it up as a profession, when it wasn’t looked upon as a career choice, especially in a normal middle class family. She bought her own tanpura from her scholarship money, and I use it even now. Apart from her, Lata Ji and Asha Ji have been a constant inspiration, as well as an encyclopaedia of music that I’ve heard on repeat. I have tried to emulate them, and notice the bareekiyaan in their art from the time I was five years old. They’re truly impeccable. 

If you could have your fans remember one thing about you, what would it be?
I don’t like to call them fans, I call them fam. If they have to remember anything about me, it should be what they keep telling me all the time on social media. They say my voice tells them the kind of person that I am, and how positive, real, relatable, and inspiring I am for them. They can hear it in my voice when I sing. They provide the fuel for all that I do and I am grateful for them.

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