Twitterati troll NYT for calling Lata Mangeshkar ‘so-called playback singer’

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jun 01, 2016 20:31 IST
Bhat suggested why 86-year-old Mangeshkar was “still alive” and debated if Test captain Virat Kohli was better than Tendulkar

One of the world’s leading newspapers, The New York Times, has left Indians fuming after calling Lata Mangeshkar a “so-called playback singer”. The report calls Sachin Tendulkar a “hugely popular cricketer”.

The descriptions of the two iconic Indians were made in a report on the Tanmay Bhat controversy – the popular comedian has been roasted by the people and politicians for “insulting” the two legends in a spoof.

In describing Bhat’s controversial video, NYT said: “In the expletive-laced video, which was created on Snapchat, Mr Bhat uses that app’s face-swap feature to impersonate Sachin Tendulkar , a hugely popular cricketer who retired in 2013, and Lata Mangeshkar, a so-called playback singer for Bollywood films whose career dates to the 1940s. Playback singers record vocals for song-and-dance numbers, to which actors and actresses lip sync.”

Ellen Barry, the South Asia bureau chief of The New York Times, clarified the “so-called” reference in the story was not a ”commentary” but used for “non-Indian readers” unfamiliar with the term “playback singer”. “A note on “so-called”: Used here for non-Indian readers unfamiliar w term “playback singer.” In no way a commentary,” Barry tweeted.

The article’s co-writer, Suhasini Raj, quoted the dictionary: “’So-called: used to introduce a new word or phrase that is not yet known by many people’.”

New York-based Indian writer Aseem Chhabra tweeted: “Amazing some folks are upset @nytimes. Idea of ‘playback singer’ is unique to India. Hence the ‘so-called’ expression about @mangeshkarlata!”

Bhat used an app called Face Swap, which allows users to “borrow” another person’s face, for creating two videos titled Sachin Vs Lata #Civilwar that angered admirers of both the singer and the cricketer.

Among other things, Bhat suggested why 86-year-old Mangeshkar was “still alive” and debated if Test captain Virat Kohli was better than Tendulkar.

Here are reactions by Twitter users to the NYT story on Bhat:

Here’s how Twitter reacted to the NYT report.

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