From Baby Doll to Beat pe Booty, her voice is behind some of the grooviest Bollywood songs of the past half-decade. But how did her musical journey bring her to this point? Kanika Kapoor talks to HAIR about starting off as a singer, breaking into B-Town, and the secrets behind her amazing hair and skin.
Tell us about the start of your musical journey. How did the passion develop and blossom into a career?
I grew up in Lucknow where I sang as a child artist on All India Radio since the age of 11. I have trained in classical music for 12 years. My guru late Shri. Pandit Ganesh Prasad Mishraji would come home to teach my uncle. I used to sit there listening to him—this went on for two years and, finally, he started training me when I turned eight. I even started doing shows with Anup Jalota thereafter, who is like a second father to me. I never aimed to become a singer, but I always thought I could give it a try. What gave me confidence to even give it a shot was when I won an inter-school singing competition at age 12. That’s when I thought I could do it.
How did the big break into Bollywood come about? Did you ever think Baby Doll would be a successful as it is now?
Baby Doll kickstarted my singing career in Bollywood. I’d recently released my YouTube single Jugni. It became an internet sensation and Ekta Kapoor heard and loved it! Just then, I got a call from Manmeet (from the hit duo Meet Bros), informing me that Ekta Kapoor loved it and wants to call me for a trial for Baby Doll. Manmeet and I go way back; we grew up together in Lucknow and he is like a brother to me. When I was recording the song, I never imagined it would be a blockbuster. The song was released much later than scheduled and I’d almost forgotten about it. Once released, things hit off and I was even asked to come promote the song. I still meet people who refer to me as the “Baby Doll singer” and it feels great.
How has life changed post this success?
Success tastes very sweet when it is an outcome of humongous effort. My journey has definitely not been easy. Learning something new always comes with its own share of hardships, but it’s important to not give up. I had a slow and steady start as a singer—being tough and sticking to your decisions always pays off. Life has definitely changed post this success, and I’ve grown to be a more humble and calm person. People have started recognising me for my work. I strongly believe that when you want something to happen and you put in enough effort, the right doors will surely open for you.
Did the fame and popularity ever get to you? What advice do you have for young artists who are starting to slowly gain a fan following?
The fame poured in after Baby Doll hit the internet. People started knowing me because of my music and voice. It was a great feeling, but I decided to not let it get to my head. Instead, I worked harder and stayed focused. To upcoming artists, I’d say that we all have our own struggles when we are trying to do something new. You must embrace your fears and failures as these will help you grow. When something goes wrong despite your best efforts, don’t be disheartened by it; instead, learn from it. Do not give up, and do not let success get to your heads.
With a stressful and busy schedule as yours, how do you make time for health and fitness?
Yoga is my saviour! I can have fun yoga sessions at any time of the day. I also try to devote some time to strength training and cardio during the week. When I’m busy with shoots and can’t work out, I make up for it by not indulging in cheat meals. I believe that eating right is absolutely necessary to keeping yourself healthy. Exercising and eating healthy kill my lethargic and laid-back attitude, and they are my fitness mantras. Not only this, they also make my skin glow, and make me look and feel fresh. According to me, fitness is the first step to looking and feeling good.
Your skin and hair always look flawless, how do you achieve this?
Thanks for the compliment! The first thing I do every morning is have hot water with lemon and honey as it helps detoxify the skin. I then move on to use my Valmont cleaner and toner. Whenever I get the time, I like to cleanse, tone and exfoliate my skin. It may come as a surprise that I am not a huge fan of make-up, and I do not prefer wearing it all the time. I just cover my skin a little when I’m going out in the sun to protect it from damage and hide spots. As a singer, I sometimes work for 15 hours a day, travel a lot and I’m exposed to hard water and harsh air. To combat this, I indulge in hair spas and make ayurvedic hair packs for my hair too. To get naturally smooth hair, eat amla (Indian gooseberry) as it helps strengthen your hair, cure dandruff and also reduce hair fall.
Through the course of your career, you must have worked with numerous hair and make-up artists; any tips and tricks that you may have picked up from them?
As I mentioned, I’m not a huge fan of wearing make-up. I like to keep my everyday look very basic and light. Working with so many people who are constantly doing my hair and make-up, I always pick up various hair trends from them. Variations in hairstyles and therapy for hair has always piqued my interest. I am blessed with smooth and flawless hair, but I always strive to make it better with simple and quick hairstyling tips and tricks.
How would you define your style statement in a line?
My fashion sense has always been along the lines of chic and comfortable.
Do you have any advice for young girls trying to make it in the entertainment industry?
There’s nothing a girl can’t do, and I strongly believe in this. In this industry, I’ve seen young girls wanting to make a career and giving in their best.To every young girl, I’d want to say, “Don’t let society’s harsh words knock you down. Believe in the power of you and make it happen. There’s an entire world out there waiting to see the talent hidden in you.”
What are your plans for the future? Any projects we should be looking forward to?
I’ve been working on quite a few things lately and there’s always something new and different coming up. I’d like the details to be a little secret—when it’s out there, you’ll know!
1. Your musical inspiration: My guru, the late Shri Pandit Ganesh Prasad Mishraji
2. An actress you’d love to lend your voice to: Rekhaji
3. The most fun song you’ve worked on so far: Baby Doll
4. Beauty products that you can’t live without: My kohl pencil, body splash, sunscreen and lip tints
5. Your personal style statement: Comfortably chic
6. Your guilty pleasure: Chocolate!
7. A quick message to the fans: It’s your love and support that keeps me going. Thank you!