“I was at the right place at the right time”
Interview with Jonita Gandhi, playback singer, Chennai Express
Being a Canadian resident and an NRI, Jonita Gandhi had spent her entire life in Toronto but it is her great passion for Indian music which brought youthful and pretty singer back to India. Jonita has a complete western accent and is trained in English classical music but it was her candlelight cover of Bollywood songs that claimed her popularity amongst the Indian folks. Her candlelight cover music on YouTube have been a rage and recorded over 2 million views in less than a year. Her passion for Bollywood music is what makes Jonita one of the very few singers from outside India to have made it on their own talent in the industry. A Health Sciences graduate and HBA, has made signing her life. After shifting her base to Mumbai recently, she made a Bollywood debut with one of the highest grossing movies “Chennai Express”. She sure is no novice to music, having been a part of a band back in Canada but the young singer undoubtedly started with scratch in Bollywood. In an exclusive interview with India Empire’s Assistant Editor Misha Singh, Jonita talks about her journey so far
You have been brought up in Toronto and have a western accent. How did you manage to get the flawless command over Hindi?
I've been singing Hindi film songs since I was a very young child. Also, my parents speak Hindi around the house. Although we have lived abroad our entire life, we still have a strong connection to our language and culture. My parents helped instill this in me right from the start.
Who do you draw inspiration from?
I can draw inspiration from anything and anyone - I haven't necessarily followed any particular one artist throughout my life. In many ways I draw a lot of inspiration from my father, whose hardworking nature has taught me to keep trying my best.
Your father was a musician and you started singing in his band at a very young age. Was your father the driving force behind your dream to be a singer?
Yes. From a very young age he started to encourage me to learn songs and perform them. I gave my first performance with his band when I was 7 years old at one of his Christmas gigs. From then onwards, he has been instrumental in my success.
You have been a Management student. What led you to realize that you wanted to be a singer?
Growing up, music has always been my passion and my "first love". However I still wanted to complete my higher education and I was a pretty dedicated student. I was interested in sciences and even wrote my MCAT so that I could apply to medical schools. But, realizing that medicine would allow me too little time for my music, I decided to complete a 5-year double degree program instead. I graduated with a BHSc and an HBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario. Throughout my studies, my passion for singing only strengthened - to the point where I decided that after completing my degrees, I would pursue it full time and see where it takes me - and here I am!
How has your journey been from Toronto to Mumbai?
I've had a great journey from Toronto to Mumbai thus far. I've been fortunate in that I've met some really great people and have had the opportunity to work with like-minded individuals with immense passion for their work. I do get homesick from time to time but I'm very focused on my work. I travel back home as often as I can afford it, to be with family and work with my colleagues in Canada... but I believe I am a citizen of the WORLD and I will continue to go where my voice takes me. Overall, I must say, I can't complain!