Last year, Monica Dogra spent seven months without taking a single day off. It’s hard enough doing just one thing, but when you’re an actor, musician, model and writer, all rolled into one, then things can be even more difficult. But Dogra would not want to exchange those experiences with anything in the world. “In fact, I wonder why more people are not doing more than one thing,” she laughs, “In order to be good at something, you have to understand the other.” She believes that her heart lies in all that she does. “Everything I’m doing now, are all the things I’ve done in some form or the other earlier. You will see manifestations of my interest in everything I do,” she adds.
This graduate from the New York University with a degree in music, formed the electro-rock group Shaa’ir + Func in 2006 with musician Randolph Correia. With three successful albums to their credit, the band’s alternative, electronica sound was a shot in the arm for the independent music space in India. The band has toured across the country and the world and created quite a faithful fan-base. And they are busy touring across the country now as well. “We played about 10 gigs in the last month,” Dogra tells us, “We went to Arunachal Pradesh, Guwahati, Cochin and Kerala. We recently played in Mumbai and our next stop is the Red Bull Tour in Goa.”
But like we said, Dogra isn’t only a singer. The multi-talented girl made her debut in the Aamir Khan-starrer Dhobi Ghat in 2011 and will soon be sharing screen space with none other than Naseeruddin Shah and his son Vivaan Shah in Mastaan. And although most people would go all weak-kneed at the thought of being in the same frame as these stalwarts, Dogra has, what she calls, ‘her recipe’ for dealing with such a situation. “It’s very hard when people are elevating you. So I try not to do that and make them uncomfortable. At the end of the day, they are all humans beings and they have the same colours that exist inside each one of us. They just happen to be in the public eye constantly and are amazingly talented. So I just remind myself that I’m here for a reason, to learn as much as I can from these people and to rise to the occasion,” she says. In the interim, she has Fireflies opposite Rahul Khanna to look
Her eclectic choice of roles makes it a tad difficult to slot her, but Dogra’s happy that people are interested in including her in their projects. “I would like to honour that and stay consistent with what I’ve always wanted to do, which is make a better world out of my art. I’m not anti-Bollywood. But I know that I don’t fit into other people’s moulds. One day, there will be a mould created around me,” she laughs.
Dogra, who has been hosting the musical travelogue The Dewarists since the first season, is currently shooting for the third season of the show. “After hosting the two seasons, I realised that television has limitless power and potential. A show like The Dewarists gave some wonderful musicians a platform, people who never had platforms before. We also put India on the global map with the show winning the Bronze Lion at the Cannes Lion 2012. It gives me great amount of satisfaction, knowing I’m actively contributing to positive growth and something that’s so beautiful,” she says.
More than fame and recognition, it is the desire for good work that drives this girl. “I firmly believe that when your intentions are not pure, you inevitably fail.
But when it comes to music, our intentions have always come from a very pure space — to create music that inspires a revolution, to love more and to maybe take the path less travelled. Am I sounding like a total dreamer here?” she asks us. Well, that and a philosopher as well. “Why do you think I named myself Shaa’ir? (poet)” she laughs.