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:
Ok so now NY times calls Lata mangeshkar a "so called playback singer." Outrage & arrests anyone? pic.twitter.com/o3feHN3CRP— Stuti Mishra (@ssttuuttii) 31 May 2016
A so called newspaper calls Lata Mangeshkar a 'so called singer' and reveals its ignorance.. Seriously ignorant— Sunanda Vashisht (@sunandavashisht) 31 May 2016
So-called singer? Err....Lata Mangeshkar??????? Who does the fact checking for these articles? https://t.co/VhAAa2rjgv— Roopa Banerjee (@roopabanerjee) 31 May 2016
A note on "so-called": Used here for non-Indian readers unfamiliar w term "playback singer." In no way a commentary. https://t.co/hEYttcd3za— Ellen Barry (@EllenBarryNYT) May 31, 2016