She’s the girl-next-door.. she exudes typical Punjabi warmth, makes you feel comfortable instantly and loves to chat. Akriti Kakar in a chat-topper with Nikhil Taneja...
At 22, she has already sung popular remixes, hit film songs, dabbled in veejaying, mentored on a reality show and is now composing for her own album –– all in three and a half years.
Seated beside her in her artfully decorated, cosy home in a Lokhandwala high-rise, it’s clear why Akriti Kakar is already a much-loved industry insider. She’s the girl-next-door.. she exudes typical Punjabi warmth, makes you feel comfortable instantly and loves to chat, like you are a long-lost friend.
It isn’t surprising then that her last birthday party had a turnout of the who’s who of the music industry –– from Ustad Sultan Khan to Shankar Mahadevan.
Tell her that and she immediately credits her parents for everything she has achieved. She recollects how just after her schooling days, her father came home with the next day’s tickets to Bombay.
Dilli to Bombay
“We were all so shocked.. he just said let’s see what happens,” she recalls. “We stayed in a hotel for 4 days, then found a one BHK. And just like that, we were settled here.”
Akriti’s mother, who holds a Post Graduate degree in Music and was a music teacher in Delhi, had to leave her work and turn homemaker, while her father, a top MBA graduate, left his job and started a business from here.
“In a way, my mother is living her life through me,” she smiles with a twinkle in her eyes. “Singing wasn’t prestigious in her time, and plus, she was a girl. Her parents would ask, ‘Kya peti bajayegi?’ In my case, she would even borrow study notes if I was performing out of town.”
“My parents never questioned me,” she reveals proudly. “I was responsible for them, I couldn’t afford to goof up.. my entire family shifted here for me.”
Luckily for Akriti, her voice was noticed at a concert within weeks of coming here, and she was offered the remix Rangeela re, which went on to become a massive hit.
“Pehle to main bahut dukhi ho gayi thi,” she reminisces. “I didn’t want to start my career with Kaanta laga-type of songs. They only care for the item girl.. who bothers noticing the singer?”
Her talent, though, got her instant recognition and soon, Akriti became a regular with Himesh Reshammiya and Pritam, who gave her chartbusters like like Dil vich lagaya ve (Chup Chup Ke), Tha karke (Golmaal Returns) and the recent Marjaani (Billu Barber).
Her breakthrough song, which got her a Stardust Awards nomination last year was the title track of Johnny Gaddar, by Shankar Ehsaan Loy, whom she calls her mentors.
They are also composing two of the songs in her album and pushed her to compose too. “I was underconfident about myself,” Akriti admits. “I would compose music clips and store them on my mobile. But they listened to every song and approved it, before I took it forward.”
Pretty as a picture, it’s no surprise that record labels want her to be the face of her videos. Akriti was even offered lead roles in TV and films, but she has always been sure that she wants to concentrate on singing - that’s why she quit her job as an anchor with ETC too.
“I can’t be known as an actor who can sing,” she says determinedly. “I want to be the most versatile singer. I won’t let any distraction come in my way. Besides, itna bura thodi na gaati hoon ki kuch aur karna pade!”