Neha Kakkar (born 6 June 1988) is an Indian singer. She began performing at religious events at the age of four and participated in the second season of the singing reality show, Indian Idol, in which she was eliminated early. After several struggles, she made her Bollywood debut as a chorus singer in the film Meerabai Not Out. She rose to prominence upon the release of the dance track “Second Hand Jawani” from Cocktail which was followed by several other popular party songs including “Sunny Sunny” from Yaariyan and “London Thumakda” from Queen.
Afterwards, she mostly performed party tracks like “Aao Raja” from Gabbar Is Back, “Tu Isaq Mera” from Hate Story 3, “Humne Pee Rakhi Hai” from Sanam Re and “Kar Gayi Chull” from Kapoor & Sons. She proved her versatility in musical range with the release of “Mile Ho Tum” from Fever which topped the list of most-viewed Bollywood songs on YouTube. She then released several chart-busters which made into the same list, including “Aankh Maarey” from Simmba, “Dilbar” from Satyameva Jayate , “Badri Ki Dulhania” from Badrinath Ki Dulhania, “Cheez Badi” from Machine, “Kala Chashma” for the film Baar Baar Dekho and the private single “Nikle Currant”, all of which crossed over six hundred million views. Similarly, “Dilbar” marks the first Indian song to reach number three spot on the Billboard YouTube Music Chart.
Kakkar was born on 6 June 1988 in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand. She is the younger sister of playback singer Sonu Kakkar and singer-composer Tony Kakkar. During the early days, her father, Rishikesh Kakkar used to sell samosa outside a college for a living while her mother Niti Kakkar was a homemaker. In the city, Kakkar shared a rented single room house with her whole family, in which they used to sleep and simultaneously convert to a kitchen by putting a table.
In the early 90s, Kakkar along with her family moved to Delhi, in order to try her luck in singing. At that time, the family was reeling under a financial crisis. Hoping to “contribute” to the family, Kakkar, at the age of four, started performing at local gatherings and religious event with her siblings which she credited for “boosting” her self-confidence. “I only sang bhajans from four to sixteen years. I would attend four to five jagrans in a day, which became my training ground”. Having music talent at home, she never felt the need to get any formal training in singing. In 2004, she moved to Mumbai with her brother, Tony Kakkar.
In 2006, at the age of sixteen, Kakkar auditioned for the second season of Indian Idol where she got eliminated early in the show. Being the youngest participant, she was naturally “pampered” on the sets, and recalls that the show gave her “great memories and fame”. Commenting on her short-journey, she said, “I feel, whatever happens, happens for a reason. I am just glad the way my journey worked out. It has been a tremendous learning experience”. According to her, people “appreciated my voice saying that you sing well but nobody ever told me that I am a great singer”. Hence, determined to prove that she can sing well, Kakkar worked on “polishing” her voice afterwards.