Her Bollywood projects have been few and far between, but Sona Mohapatra has carved a niche for herself as an artiste. This has as much to do with her unique voice as with her imposing stage presence. The singer, most popular for songs like Jiya lage na (Talaash, 2012) and Ambarsariya (Fukrey) is also one of the few artistes who have been able to leave a mark in both playback singing as well as independent music. Here, she talks about the need for artistes to not play safe, her upcoming projects and why she is choosy about the work she does.
Besides your Bollywood projects, what are you working on currently?
I’m currently looking forward to a series of tours with my band. I have also created an alternate live electronica set with just three band members multitasking among instruments. This sound works better for certain venues and I’m excited to be playing pure dance music for a change. Also, there’s the upcoming season of Satyamev Jayate (she will be seen performing songs on episodes of the show).
Apart from Ram Sampath, we haven’t seen you team up with many other composers in Bollywood. Are you choosy about who you work with?
Of course I am choosy about my work, but I’m open to working with other composers as well. Why other composers haven’t worked with me yet is a question I’m asked often, but I feel it’d be best answered by them. Maybe they don’t like my voice. Maybe they see me as Ram’s partner. I don’t really know. I’m not worried or angst-ridden about it anymore.
Your songs on Coke Studio 3, Piya se naina and Dum dum andar, have received great reviews. Did this response exceed your expectation?
I’d always known that these desi and rooted melodies would connect with the audience, but both heading towards a million views each on YouTube in such a short time is a surprise.
You perform songs that send out a social message. How important is that for you as a singer?
As artistes, we must have the guts to express our concerns through our art. It's important that we don’t play it safe all the time, as long as we don’t get preachy. Ram chose the concept of ‘Devi’ for our episode as he feels strongly about the growing misogyny and sexism in our society, and so do I.