Neeti Mohan was recently in Kolkata for a gig. The Telegraph chatted with the singer on returning to the high of live acts and bonding with her infant son Aryaveer through music.
You have your roots in Kolkata. What is it like coming back to the city?
Coming to Kolkata always brings back childhood memories. My parents were both brought up in Kolkata. They got married and shifted to Delhi, but my naani’s place was here, so we would spend every summer in Kolkata eating langda aam and phuchka. Now I travel with my baby. And the first thing that he will try here, when he is able to, is phuchka and churmur!
With the world opening up after two years, you and your colleagues are back to doing live performances. That must be a high....
It is! It was always a high, and now even more so. Resuming work after becoming a mother and also managing my music alongside is the most special feeling. Since the time I became a mother, I feel more empowered. I am doing all I should as a mother, but I am also travelling and singing in good projects. My son is only 11 months now, but he’s already a frequent flyer. As much as I am a hands-on mother, I want him to grow up and know me as an artiste also.
He’s still very young but how does he react when you sing?
It’s amazing! Music is his first love and everyone in the family sings to him. I had read that music forms the biggest connection with the baby in the womb and early on in my pregnancy, I would sing to him. We try and sing rhymes in different languages — Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati — to him.
You have sung quite a few memorable numbers over the last year. How do you pick and choose your songs now?
I feel that my songs now choose me. Like Meri jaan from Gangubai Kathiawadi came to me from Bhansali sir (director, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who also scored the music of the film). I am glad that he felt my voice could do justice to this retro kind of a song. I am happy that I am thought of when it comes to melodious numbers, be it Mere yaaraa (from Sooryavanshi) or Meri jaan. I really want to lend my voice to songs that add value, which have a connection, which have good lyrics....
Meri jaan is a very different and a seemingly difficult song to sing. What was that experience like?
It was a dream come true to sing for Bhansali sir. I have always been a huge admirer of his films... Devdas, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Khamoshi.... I have always loved the marriage between music and the picturisation of the song in his films. Most of the songs in his films are an audio-visual experience. I first sang for him in Padmaavat and Nainowaale ne was such a beautiful song. And then, Meri jaan came along. He gives me a lot of freedom to sing how I want to, but he’s also particular about how he wants the song to play out. That’s an interesting combination.
What was it like collaborating with your sisters Shakti and Mukti for Naari?
My sisters and I make the best partners, be it work or in our personal lives. We understand each others’ strengths so well that we only highlight that. When we work together, we are all equal and we put the project we are working on above everything else.