There is something about Monica Dogra that makes her different from her contemporaries. Be it as a singer, dancer, lyricist or an actor, she never fails to surprise her fans. “I am still trying to figure out who I am actually though I always try to be real. I enjoy everything that I do. Nothing really is premeditated for me. Everything I do is related to the other,” says the US-based Indian-origin artiste. Monica spoke to HT about the many hats she wears, her music, films and more:
What is Shaa’ir + Func currently up to?
We released an album five months ago. So, we are currently focusing on our upcoming tours. I am also busy with my first solo album which releases this November.
Tell us about your solo album.
The album is titled Spit and I am working on it for three years now. I have collaborated with a few international and Indian artistes on the album and have also worked with Karsh Kale and Randolph Correia (of Shaa’ir + Func). Randolph even features in the visuals. This album is one of the most personal works that I have ever done. There are nine tracks that draw inspiration from life. I have also written the lyrics of the songs.
You are also judging India’s first English music reality show that went on air recently on a popular television channel?
The show has a lot of new things to offer. The production standard is of high quality and my co-judges (Vishal Dadlani, Ehsaan Noorani and Devraj Sanyal) are awesome people. The talent that we have on board too is brilliant. I feel the voices are really very interesting. For me, I have been looking for someone (read participants) like this to shake and surprise my soul.
You have also earned a nomination at the MTV Europe Music Awards. How does it feel?
It feels incredible getting nominated for my solo work, as I have only released two singles so far as a solo artiste. It doesn’t matter even if I lose. I feel honoured, shocked and grateful to be nominated in the first place.
Watch Wake Up by Shaa’ir + Func here:
What films are you currently working on?
Two of my films, The Spectacular Jihad and Fireflies, hit the theatres recently. I was shooting for one film in Dublin in September and shot for another one, Haye Dil, in Mussourie. I play a bossy man-hater in Haye Dil, which releases in 2015. The one that I shot in Dublin will be my first mainstream Hindi film, which will release in early 2016.
Why are you inclined towards offbeat cinema?
I don’t think there are too many roles for me in commercial films. I would have loved to be part of film like Queen or Gangs of Wasseypur. I have my own plans. That’s why I don’t do everything that is happening around me. I also get pleasure in exploring other facets of myself that I haven’t explored before. There are a lot of things that that excite me. That’s the reason I am doing a commercial Bollywood film for the first time.
Your sense of style is also quite different. What inspires you to dress up differently?
The visuals that I see around me attract me. I get attracted to people who are confident and expressive about their sexuality and gender norms. I am no stranger to harsh criticism in India. I think I am just being true to myself. I love myself even if no one else does. I am very individualistic, who is always busy bending gender norms and fashion norms.
Your music video art project, Shiver, created a lot of controversies. What is the current status of the project?
Shiver is going to happen, come what may. In fact, there was so much controversy that everyone associated with the project is now scared about being part of the project and want to maintain a low profile for a while. There was nothing actually controversial about it besides the fact that people were shocked that I asked for so much money. So, I had to tolerate even personal attacks. It’s just plain bullying and stupidity. But even after all these, we have not shelved the project. It is going to happen but a little later, as we do not have the required funds. But we have enough money to at least make a part of it. We will begin work in December and will be filming the entire video in India.
I am always writing and currently working on a couple of collaborations. I want to take some time off and get into learning something for a while. I think I should really focus on meditation. I won’t mind doing a course in music production during that break.