For a musician, performing live at a concert for their adoring army of fans and watching them mouth their song lyrics keeps them going. But the COVID-19 pandemic brought the live music industry to a grinding halt.
Fortunately, the muted concert scene is slowly returning to normalcy in the UAE.
Need proof? Bollywood singer Neha Kakkar will headline a show entitled ‘Neha Kakkar Live-Maahi Ve’ on October 8 at Dubai’s Coca-Cola Arena and she hopes to fill that artistic vacuum.
“Honestly, I missed being on stage for my live concerts. The whole excitement backstage, the roar of the audiences, and most of all, performing on my songs,” said Kakkar in an exclusive e-mail interview with Gulf News ahead of her gig.
Organised by BCC Events and TW Entertainment, it’s a fully seated event and does not require concert-goers a negative PCR result to enjoy the show.
The ‘Kaanta Laga’ and ‘Aankh Maare’ hit-maker, who began her musical journey as a contestant in the hit musical talent show ‘Indian Idol 2’, is one of Bollywood’s most sought-after playback singers.
Her hit songs such as ‘Sunny Sunny’ (Yaariyan), ‘Aankh Maare’ (Simmba), and ‘The Hook Up song’ (Student of The Year 2) are bonafide club anthems that are immensely hummable and dance-worthy. She’s one of the most sought-after Bollywood playback singers and seems to be a voice with the Midas touch. Her hit songs all have an immense likeability and are just jolly and cheerful with a hint of wicked.
Ask the young singer about what to expect for her upcoming concert and she’s understandably clipped in her response. Kakkar doesn’t want to give the farm away and perhaps hopes that her audiences will be enthralled with what she has in store for her. Less is more seems to be her philosophy when answering this e-mailer ahead of her concert.
“The audiences can expect lots of energy, positive vibes, and full-on entertainment,” said Kakkar.
While she’s a self-made singer who won hearts through her sheer talent and her electrifying voice, the pandemic has taught this singer a few life lessons that she’s unlikely to forget.
“Emotionally, mentally, and financially people were affected all over the world. The most important thing the pandemic taught me was that nothing is permanent. Change is the only constant,” said Kakkar.
The ‘Saki Saki’ singer, like many creative minds, learned the importance of going with the flow and embrace the new normal.
“One had to learn to adapt to this new situation and stay positive throughout and value what one has,” she added.
While it’s popularly believed that her turn in ‘Indian Idol’ in 2006 put her on the map, Kakkar — who later returned to the show as its celebrity judge — doesn’t believe it was a career-defining moment for her.
“I wouldn’t say it was a turning point in my career but yes definitely it helps in reaching out to the industry and the audience world over. The platform gives each contestant a chance to showcase their talent,” said Kakkar.
Her response was more enthusiastic when asked about being a judge on that same show that plucked her from relative obscurity. Life had come a full circle, declares Kakkar.
“It was an unbelievable feeling … I realised I was sitting right next to the big wigs of the Indian music industry who were once judging me when I was a contestant. I felt like I was living my dream. So surreal it was,” said Kakkar.
But being on a talent show and being noticed isn’t always easy. Music folkore is rife with tales of how such talent hunt shows are simmering with rivalry, competitiveness, and clocking in impossible hours to get noticed.
So what’s her advice too all those contestants who face intense emotional challenges during such shows?
“I feel that there will always be competition in anything one does. It is a good thing. Keeps one on their toes and make them give their best. However if the pressure reaches a point where it affects one emotionally or psychologically then one needs to strike a balance and take support from loved ones and family. Because family and loved ones are the only ones who will be a pillar of strength in trying times,” said Kakkar.
This singer seems to lead by example. In 2020, she married Punjabi musician Rohanpeet Singh in a Gurudwara in New Delhi, followed by a string of glitzy parties. Their dreamy wedding was splashed across the media and saw a beaming couple looking incredibly happy to be with each other.
Her social media accounts — a whopping 63.3 million followers on Instagram and 34 million followers on Facebook — are filled with pictures of her performing at concerts and enjoying some downtime with her family. It seems to be a balanced mix of work and play. She de-constructs her massive online popularity in the simplest of ways. When she’s hit with social media fatigue, she switches off to ward off online fatigue.
“Like everyone else I am a human being first. So just like any other person even I have my good days and bad days. So I cut myself off social media time to time to keep my sanity intact and bounce back with newer energies,” said Kakkar.
She has an equally pragmatic perspective when it comes to her haters who can be vicious in their comments.
“If one is a public figure then one has to learn to take everything with a pinch of salt. Initially I used to get affected by the trolls. But now I have learned to deal with it since I came to know the fact that if you are relevant you will get trolled,” said Kakkar.
And no doubt, she’s one of the most relevant singers in Bollywood today when she became the second-most viewed female artist on YouTube with over 4.5 billion song views after Cardi B in 2020.
“Each and every musician inspires me in some way or the other,” Neha Kakkar said when asked about her favourite idol on the Indian music scene.
Did you know her favourite song?
“My recent favourite by me is my single ‘Bol Kaffara Kya Hoga’”
Don’t Miss It!
What: Neha Kakkar Live – Maahi Ve
Date: Friday, October 8
Where: The Coca-Cola Arena, Dubai
Time: Gates open at 7.30pm, concert begins at 8.30pm
Tickets: Dh1,000, Dh750, Dhs275, Dhs175, and Dhs95 on Coca-cola-arena.com