Jonita Gandhi with Arjun Kanungo: TikTok haters are living in denial

Updated: Oct 28, 2019, 07:43 IST | Sonia Lulla | Mumbai

In a chat with Arjun Kanungo, Jonita Gandhi discusses why even social media haters better keep up

Jonita Gandhi and Arjun Kanungo
Jonita Gandhi and Arjun Kanungo

They have a significant number of years behind them as musicians, but Jonita Gandhi and Arjun Kanungo are the first among the young crop of musicians to feature on this page. They make this fact evident, peppering this conversation with abundant talk of 'getting wasted', dating, and having kids (catch the video on But beneath the superficial banter, this chat gives us an insight into the characteristics that led to their tremendous success. While for Kanungo, it's quite simply his desire to not spend a moment doing anything that doesn't appeal to him, for Gandhi, it's about ensuring she's aware of everything that's creating noise today.

Jonita to Arjun

Were you this talented, tall and handsome boy in school, or were you ragged?
School was the worst time. I didn't fit in. I didn't have friends and was always angry. I was a rebel without a cause. I had nothing to rebel about. But it was my default position.

As someone who owns businesses, acts, writes and composes, do you have the urge to [micro-manage] everything?
I was like that; particular about everything. But, as you [continue to] work, you build a team that you trust. I have a lot of people whom I can now rely on.

Singing can stress me out. It's tough for me to answer questions on whether I like to sing live or in a studio. What do you prefer?
Live is always easier. I love it. I enjoy a studio session if it's private. But [when] someone else [is involved], it's always [about] living up to expectations. In a live session, you can just let go. I don't know the last time I ran wild in a studio. My last session was particularly so when I had to record a song for Pritam da [Chakraborty] for The Sky Is Pink. Given the deadline, it was stressful.
Jonita: I feel some of the most magical moments happen in the studio when you're feeding off someone else's energy. On stage, you have only one shot. In the studio, you can just run wild.

What is the earliest [time of day] you've recorded a song?
I don't record in the morning because of [how] my voice [sounds], and because I'm [never] in the mood. I don't do stuff I don't want to. I'm a bit spoilt, that way. A lot of [musicians] don't have the privilege to do what they like to do. I respect those who do everything, and change their mindset; but I can't. I need to be in a space that I want to be in.

On a scale of one to 10, rate your latest single, Hona chaida, comparing it to Woh baarishein.
Ten. This is my best single. I have a philosophy: My singles are like my girlfriends, the latest one is the most important.

Have you ever promoted a song you didn't like?
I don't do stuff I don't like. I'm incapable of it. I always ask for a song beforehand, and if I don't like it, I don't do it. There are some composers for whom I'll just go and sing; but with anyone new, I need to know what I'm getting into. However, I feel like I don't deserve some of the songs I've got.

How do you strike a balance between what you think will work, and what you like?
I'm glad that people have liked what I have done so far. But, I'm petrified about the future, when my work will have to be adjusted to what [I] might need to do. That time will come, for sure. Knowing the person I am, and my stubbornness to [only do] what appeases my heart, I'm petrified about what will happen when the process must change. My biggest fear is what will happen if I'm not relevant anymore. How do I adapt?

What must an artiste have to make it big today?
You must not have any sort of judgment, both about yourself and people. When I started off, I was [always pointing out] what's wrong with the industry. For the first five years, I was wondering why something is the way it is. When I got rid of that, I realised I needed to be myself and see what happens. It's hard to put yourself out there.

Jonita Gandhi
Jonita Gandhi

Arjun to Jonita

If today, you got more famous for your Tik Tok videos than music, how would you feel?
That would be cool, because I'd still be singing. It's not like, I'll change my career and become a Tik Tok person, full time. If I have to choose between being an artiste and a social media star, I'd prefer being an artiste. However, [today] those two are not mutually exclusive.

Which is the one song you wish you had sung?
Ghungroo [War]. It's a stand-out song when compared to everything else that's going on in the industry.

Where do you see yourself two years from now?
I see myself killing it [as an artiste]. I'm going to do a lot of self-branded material. Over the past year, I've been allowing myself to be myself more often, in public. That should also reflect in my music. Initially, I cared too much about what people think. I've started giving myself credit; telling myself I'm credible, and people respect me. I don't have to worry about that now. Now, I need to think about the kind of content that will make me stand out.

What according to you is the one thing a new musician should have to make it?
They should do constant reality checks. A realistic view of the industry and yourself is important. Some people are living in denial, like the TikTok haters. The only one losing out [if you don't take to the platform], is you. If you don't want to get [up to speed] with the [latest trends], you will
lose out.

Name a musician you'd like to date.
Bruno Mars. But, I don't want to date. I'm not currently in the [mind-frame] to date.

Watch the video of the interview on

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Arjun Kanungo and Jonita Gandhi discuss music, dating, and babies!

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