Kanika Kapoor is an award-winning playback singer from India who gained prominence in 2012. In 2014, Kapoor made her entry into Bollywood with ‘Baby Doll, a hit Punjabi song that featured in the Hindi film ‘Ragini MMS 2’ and earned her critical acclaim and a Filmfare Award. Kapoor’s voice has been featured in many popular Bollywood films while her songs have played parts in Hollywood productions such as ‘The Big Sick’ and ‘Isn’t It Romantic’. She is the first Indian artiste to perform in Buckingham Palace.


Kapoor was previously married with three children. After her divorce, she tied the knot with Gautam Hathiramani, an Indian-Nigerian businessman, in 2022, and they currently live in Lagos. In this interview with TheCable Lifestyle’s DEBORAH BODUNDE, the 45-year-old singer speaks on her desire to break language barriers by fusing Punjabi and Afrobeats sounds. She also shares her experiences living in Lagos and working with Nigerian music producers.

You started studying classical music and participating in music competitions at age 12, how has the journey been from then till now?

Kanika Kapoor: It has been a very interesting journey, a very blessed journey. I started singing on All India Radio as a child artiste, I was singing classical Indian vocals and from there I had a very strong mentor who was teaching me how to perform so I was very lucky to have shared the stage with him over time. What gave me a lot of confidence was that I was winning competitions in my school and that made me feel like I became a star as a teenager. And then from there, it has been very gradual. 


I got back into music professionally almost 13 years later, where I started building my catalogue and started building my music videos and also putting them on YouTube. That is how a song went viral and from there I got an opportunity in Bollywood, had back-to-back hit songs in Bollywood and that is how my career just started and took off. Today I’m here in Nigeria, living in Lagos, building yet another career in addition to the bloom that I’ve had in my life and my career.

Kanika Kapoor:

What is your impression of the Nigerian music scene?


Kanika Kapoor: I think the Nigerian music scene is about to take over the world if it already hasn’t. You know, when I’m in India, when I’m in the UK; when I’m in Florida, I mean, everywhere I go, I listen to Nigerian music. So I just feel like it’s something that people have accepted, love, and want more. Especially for Indians, I think the only thing that they don’t understand is the language. So I feel like the bridge that I’m working on between India and Nigeria is going to be the hint of the Indian lyrics on Naija beats. I feel that’s going to work and that’s something that will make them love Afrobeats even more.

Your song ‘Koka’ blends Punjabi and Afrobeats influences. What inspired this unique combination?

Kanika Kapoor: When I moved to Nigeria a couple of years ago, I just felt that there was such a great opportunity to take Afrobeats and Nigerian voices back to the UK, to India, and the Middle East because I have such a great following in these spaces. And what was missing was a connection between the two countries and the bridge was the language, it was a barrier. So I feel like a song like ‘Koka’ and an album of mine that is coming up with a lot of Nigerian collaboration, some new ones, some very well known, would help to create that bridge between the two countries and the music. I think people will love Afrobeats even more, and the listeners will grow even more in both countries when they listen to different languages.

How do you plan to explore more Afrobeats influences in your upcoming music?


Kanika Kapoor: I have an album coming up and I have almost 12 collaborations ready. They’re coming up, and we also have videos. So the great thing is that the first thing I did when I moved here was to set up a studio in Ikoyi, Lagos. I’m working from there and everything, the singing, the songwriting, the production, the mix and master, the studio time, and the videos, everything is done in Nigeria, everything is done in Lagos by Nigerians. So I have the whole concept of being that bridge and I will take the sounds to India. I feel like we have created a new sound, to be honest. We have been working on this for the last two years.

Tell us some of the Nigerian artistes featured on the new album and others you would be interested in collaborating with in the future.

Kanika Kapoor: I want to tell you that we haven’t met but I already feel that your eyes lit up and your voice has lit up hearing about this and that is so exciting. I want to work with everybody and I want to work with them again and again. I’m here to stay, I live here now. I feel that once we start exploring, the more we explore the more we will understand and learn what we need to do. So yes, there is going to be a lot of music coming from Lagos, and Nigeria is going to see a lot of music from Kanika Kapoor. It won’t be a one-off project, it is something that hopefully is going to be here forever.

Were there any challenges you faced fusing Punjabi and Afrobeats sounds during production?


Kanika Kapoor: Yes, we did. Initially, when we were trying to mix the sounds, we tried to use different music producers. Not everybody gets the mojo of the two sounds because they’re very different sounds. One has a lot going on and the other is very minimalistic. So just to come to the middle and make sure that the producers were happy was a bit of a task. And that is the only challenge that I have been facing but I think we’re getting there. As I said, we are creating our sounds.

Who would you say is your favourite Nigerian artiste? 

Kanika Kapoor: I like Ayra Starr. I like her voice, I like the way her tone is, I think she is interesting and I’m watching her grow. I also love Davido.

Do you have any plans to perform live in Nigeria soon?

Kanika Kapoor’s husband Gautam Hathiramani is from Jos, Plateau state

Kanika Kapoor: The moment you give me a chance, I would. 

You and your husband live in Nigeria, which part of the country is he from? 

Kanika Kapoor: Well, he was born in Jos and he has grown up here, he lives here and now we both live here in Lagos.

How are you adjusting to life in Lagos?

Kanika Kapoor: To be honest, I think it’s interesting but it’s a bit of a shock to be in a new country all of a sudden and just starting from fresh. I have a very established career in my country and now becoming the Naija wife, I think people have been very warm and welcoming. I also think that with time it will grow, so I’m very positive about it.

How long have you been living in Lagos, and what would you say is the biggest culture shock that you have experienced?

Kanika Kapoor: It is coming up to two and half years since living here. You know it is very similar to India, to be honest. There’s nothing that I would say is a culture shock. Indians and Nigerians are very similar in where both countries are lacking, the poverty, the traffic, everything is the same. To be honest, it wasn’t such a big shock because even the weather is the same. I see that people are in need over here and I feel like people are also in need in India. There are a lot of people who need help, who seek help, and we are here to help them.

But what aspects of the culture do you enjoy the most? Food, fashion, music, or the nightlife? 

Kanika Kapoor: I love and I’m getting so much more and more into fashion. I did attend one of the shows at Fashion Week a couple of months ago. I attended Banke Kuku’s fashion show, and I’ve been wearing a lot of Nigerian designers. In my music videos, I worked with Nigerian designers like Lisa Folawiyo and more. So I’ve been exploring fashion, I think it is very interesting. I have also really enjoyed the music and the culture of the country. I feel like that’s something that I connected with immediately and here we go, there is a lot more coming.

Since you enjoy our culture a lot, do you see yourself staying in Nigeria for the long term?

Kanika Kapoor:

Kanika Kapoor: Well you know I’m very happily married now to a Nigerian, so I think the #NaijaWife isn’t going anywhere. I would be living here for the rest of my life from what I see.

Looking back on your career, which accomplishments are you most proud of, and why?

Kanika Kapoor: Looking back, it feels great to me and I love that I made my grandmother very proud. I came from a family where we lived together and grew up together, and girls generally from the north of India were not very independent. They’re more housewives and lovely mums but for my grandmother to see me blossom, have an independent career, and be financially independent is a very big thing. For me, I think that was a huge achievement when I saw that in her eyes.

What is one misconception about you as an artiste that you would like to clarify or speak on? 

Kanika Kapoor: I think I come across as a little unapproachable. That’s what a lot of people and artists say to me when they get to know me. But I think I’m just a shy and quieter person till you don’t know me and I’m just a riot after that.

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