India — The debate around gender inequality in the entertainment industry is still on, with the wave of change sweeping in. But singer Jonita Gandhi feels there’s still a long path that needs to be covered to create a place which is equal and fair to all.
“Music industry isn’t an equal space. But I do think that there are improvements being made. You’re definitely seeing more women in the industry, but there’s a lot of room for growth. There’s still a lot of inequality, and certain stereotyping that’s happening with women. It’s still a male dominant industry,” says Gandhi.
She left her family in Canada to create a space for herself in the Indian music industry, and she’s doing that by exploring different languages and genres.
“I feel very empowered as a woman in this industry, as somebody who moved away from her family in Canada completely, came across the ocean to India, and is making a name for herself. For me, that’s very empowering. I use tools like social media, internet and all those things available to us as women to get out there and to make our voices heard,” explains the singer, who made her singing debut in Bollywood with Chennai Express title track, and went on to lend her voice to songs such as Sau Tarah Ke (Dishoom; 2016), Lagdi Hai Thaai (Simran; 2017), and Main Tumhara (Dil Bechara; 2020).
Happy with the way things are going, Gandhi is “hopeful for the future” and feels “it will definitely show me more female representation”.
While exploring Bollywood’s musical side, she didn’t put her independent music career on side, instead balanced it both. “I don’t like to separate genres, like films or non film. For me, music transcends all of those boxes that we tend to put it in. A lot of people call themselves a playback singer, a pop singer or indie musicians,” she points, asserting that she doesn’t want to identify herself in that way.
“I don’t want to have a label. I just want to do everything. My music, my voice, my talent, my vision, it transcends all of those boxes. That’s why I try my best to try any language, I try to think in all the different genres, and I try to collaborate with people from around the world and different parts of India,” shares the singer.
The 31-year-old feels that it has helps her and shape herself and grow as an artiste. “That is the best way for me to keep learning,” she notes.
While Gandhi has mostly sung in Hindi and Tamil, she teases songs in English and Punjabi as well. “I’m just going on to keep on exploring new languages. There are also a lot of collaborations that are about to happen this year,” she concludes with a hint.