The Punjabi music scene for years had a reputation as a scene that was totally dominated by males, thankfully over the last few years this reputation is now being challenged with the rise of some amazing female talent. During the period of male dominance one lady got her voice heard, she has blessed the scene for over 35 years, the lady we are talking about, the one the only Kamaljit Neeru.
Kamaljit in an open and frank interview has talked about her 35+ years on the scene and how she managed to grow as a person and artist in a scene that was seen as very taboo for female artists. Kamaljit Neeru was interviewed by Ghaint Punjabi.
Tell us, and others about your background/Education & family
I was born in Khanna, Punjab. My father was an officer serving in the Indian Military. I have three sisters and one brother. My husband Sukhbir Singh is a retired pilot and my son is a police officer in Canadian Police Department. I used to study at Lyallpur Khalsa College, Jalandhar and had opted for (pre medical) medical stream. I was equally active in sports and art activities in college but could not continue with my medical studies, as I got married and soon moved to England. Though I continued with my studies in England as well but by that time, my inclination towards singing was more.
How did your singing career progress?
In those days many Punjabi musical groups had started mushrooming on the land of England. During one of the social gatherings, Baldev Mastana Ji (music director) listened to my voice and asked me to join his musical group. In fact, I have never been formally trained in singing, I only took it up as a hobby. Gradually, as time passed, my craft also got more polished.
My first album came out in 1982 under HMV, and it was a big thing to have your debut album under HMV.
How did your family take to you singing?
You do know that much before me and after me, or even today, for a girl, things are still difficult when it comes to her career choice. That mindset is changing now. There are families who want to support their daughter’s career choices, but people around them, the relatives or their circle, discourage them. In this case, I was lucky that I got full support from my family. Even though initially I was not comfortable about singing live in front of the public but it changed after a few performances.
Was that mindset the reason you got involved with Women’s Association?
I am associated with Sanjha Vehra Women’s Association (Surrey) which raises funds for women breast cancer research and also helps in children education in India. My Bhua Ji, Late Basant Kaur was the key member of this association which I and my sister are now associated with. Also, my musical team is like a family, I have even helped their kids in their education.
Acting career, people are saying you have not done films? But this is not right is it?
It was after I became a known singer, that I was approached for this film called Suneha in 1987-88. It was a love triangle with Shashi Puri, Rama Vij & Me in the lead. We completed the film, but it could not release due to some reasons, so my acting career came to an end even before it could start. I decided to concentrate more on singing. But much later in 1997, I did a movie called Sardari with Guggu Gill, Pankaj Dhir & Preeti Sapru, in which I had a special appearance.
So are you open to more acting offers?
Actually, I am not supposed to disclose it, but I am already doing a film. It might release this year and I have an important role in it. I am open to more film offers, but they must be be good.
Back to music, how did you balance out staying current and running a family? Was the family the reason you would pop in and out of the music scene?
After the birth of my son, I had family responsibilities but yes even before that I would come after short gaps. After my debut album in 1982, my next one came in 1987, then for the next few years, I came out with an album every year. In between, I also recorded for collaboration albums with other artists or singles for musical programs like Rooda Mandi Jaawe for Jalandhar Doordarshan.
In those gaps, I was actively doing cultural stage shows in many countries. Lakk Hilda came out in 1997, Seeti Te Seeti in 2000 and Jugni in 2003. This time I took a long break and came out with singles in 2017, a religious song on chote sahibzaade and jagon wali raat in 2018.
Difference in the Music scene- Then and Now
Big difference – Zameen Aasman Da Fark!I did Jugni in 2003, and Jago Wali Raat came recently, I could see a lot of difference in terms of technology.
Now all the artists are there on social platforms. Back then, people used to have a curiosity to see artists live but now there is this thing called going live on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms. We never had to promote ourselves earlier, it was the music company’s job but now there is a lot of self-promotion.
Current Favorite in Punjabi Music
Whoever is doing good songs and music, I like them all. Among the new girls, I like Nimrat Khaira. She is doing a very good job and I like her singing style.
Competition, Clashes and More – Then and Now
I had no rivalry, cold war or competition at all with my contemporaries. In fact, we used to encourage and praise each other for our work. I learnt a lot from (Late) Parminder Sandhu didi.
We used to be very fond of each other. I address Amar Noori ji as Noori bhabi and have done Teeyan Da Mela shows with her and Satwinder Bitti many times. I have also done stage shows with Punjabi film actresses Daljit Kaur ji and Manjit Kular.
We would get excited and overjoyed in each other’s company. We used to perform together, so there was no insecurity or competition at all.
In my life, I never planned things. If I would find something interesting, I would just do it. I shuffle between Canada & India due to my work commitments and have recently completed a reality tv show. As I mentioned earlier, I am also doing a Punjabi movie and will come up with my next song if I find something good to sing.
Message For Fans
Whatever I could achieve in my life, it’s all thanks to them. I feel so humble to receive all the affection from my fans in all these years. I will just say that listen to good songs and now as everyone is on social media, do share and praise good efforts of artists.
View this post on Instagram