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Singer with spunk

Vivacious B-town singer, Akriti Kakkar was in Bhubaneswar to perform at ITERís annual fest. t2 caught up with the Punjabi kudi for a freewheeling chat on music and more

Is this your first visit to Odisha?

Yes, strangely so. I have been to the oddest of places within and outside the country but never here before! I didnít get enough time to see around but have read and learnt about the place. Handicrafts and temples are of personal interest to me and I will make another trip to Bhubaneswar and Puri.

You have worked with some of the best music composers and directors in the country. Who allows you maximum freedom to be yourself?

It would be wrong on my part to name just one. Himeshji (Reshammiya) gave me songs one after another when I started my career; Pritamda believed in my talent and gave me super hits such as Marjaani and Khudaya Khair; Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy gave me Johnny Gaddarís title song that made me discover a new facet to my own singing. All of them have always made the recording atmosphere so comfortable that one could work freely, without any pressure.

Do you agree with the opinion that music composers these days are becoming hostile towards established singers?

(Laughs) Not at all! Most composers sing their own compositions now. Also, all singers, whether established or not, will always depend on composers for their future work. The reason for us to be called professional singers is the fact that composers believe in us. There is no scope for a singer to become a threat in any capacity for a composer.

As a young singer, how do you view the Bollywood music industry?

I feel Bollywood has increasingly become receptive to newer voices and textures. By the time I entered the industry, it was still sticky for new singers but now everyone wants their songs to sound new with a fresh experimental voice.

Does casting couch exist in the music industry?

This is a generic question. Casting couch exists wherever there is willingness to compromise and take the shorter route. Be it a 9 to 5 bank job or a media corporate company. Itís a personal choice based on oneís upbringing, ethics and values. One can choose to believe in themselves and be patient for the right things to happen to them or give in to false temptations and end up falling prey to casting couch.

Which composer/ producer would you like to work with in future?

It is a dream for me to work with A. R. Rahman sir. Iím also a huge fan of Vishal Bhardwaj, M.M. Kreem and Illayaraja sir. In the contemporary scene, I havenít worked with Amit Trivedi. I would love to sing for him too.

As a teenager, you won talent hunt show Sa Re Ga Ma and recently hosted a music reality show. Do you think such shows do serve a purpose? Or have they become all about orchestrated drama and raising TRPs?

When I participated in Sa Re Ga Ma in 1997, the trend was different. It was a pure talent show. No frills, only substance. It didnít matter whether you looked good or could attract audiences. Now, itís for sure an entertainment package and rightly so because times have changed. But itís amazing how it brings singers from different places to a common platform where they are able to perform in front of legends. For a struggling singer it is a great feat as established names are otherwise unapproachable. Itís like a crash course in everything Ė from styling to choreography, mannerism to riyaaz Ė to prepare you for the journey ahead. I donít think it is as important to win these contests, as it is to learn there. I made mistakes, roughed it up till here. Singers now get it on a platter, the best of amenities to reach out to audiences across the globe. Itís up to them how they want to carve their lives post the reality shows.

Your international track, Hope Has Wings, became a huge hit. Are you working on more international projects?

Yes, there is a fun collaboration with a brilliant music producer from the UK circuit. I would be heard going quirky like never before. Iím also doing a project with a Finland-based music producer. Thatís more like a fusion of reggae and Indian classical.

Your voice is said to suit Katrina Kaif the most. How does that feel?

Ecstatic! Katrina Kaif being the prettiest angel face that she is, who wouldnít be happy to be called her voice? As far as other actresses go, I hope I can sing for Rekha ji one day. Singing for the

poise and panache she has will be a dream come true. Iíd also love to sing for Madhuri Dixit, the epitome of beauty in Bollywood.

Do you have any ambitions of acting in films?

No! I have dedicated my life and my entire familyís life to be who I am in the music field today. Neither do I feel suited for acting nor do I think I am ever going to be keen on it. It is kind of people who deem me fit for it.

What are you are working on at the moment? Are you planning to come up with a solo album?

There is a beautiful single on the way, set for a Valentineís Day release. It talks about Ishq and describes the sanctity of it in many ways. Itís not a clichť romantic song. For Bollywood, there are some exciting releases lined up which should be spoken of when they are closer for release.

You have sung in nearly a dozen languages. Would you like to sing in Odia?

Oh, yes! Iíd be most open and happy to venture into the Odia music industry.