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Sona Mohapatra on Sonakshi Sinha: Win your place under the arc lights on merit

After being blocked by actor Sonakshi Sinha on Twitter, musician Sona Mohapatra tells us why she posted such angry tweets about a film star being picked to perform at the Justin Bieber concert.

bollywood Updated: Jun 05, 2017 18:17 IST
Monika Rawal Kukreja
Monika Rawal Kukreja
Hindustan Times
Sona Mohapatra,Sonakshi Sinha,Kailash Kher
Sona Mohapatra said that she would refuse to ‘open’ for Justin Bieber even if she was paid truckloads.

The Sona vs Sona Twitter skirmish resulted in actor Sonakshi Sinha blocking singer Sona Mohapatra on the social network. The latter’s sarcastic response, also on the social network, made it abundantly clear what thought she thought of the move.

A lot of people in the music industry have criticised the choice of Sonakshi as an opening act for pop superstar Justin Bieber’s May concert in Mumbai — their objection is that she is an actor, not a singer, and therefore not worthy of this recognition — but Sona’s voice has by far been the angriest. And that was even before being blocked.

Commenting on the step taken by Sonakshi on Twitter, Sona tells us, “[What triggered it] was voicing my opinion that [Sonakshi] is unworthy of the platform (the concert) being given to her on a platter by a marketing machine. It wasn’t on the basis of merit that she was chosen for the slot. Being a musician and performer myself, I spoke out and she, in turn, chose to respond in this manner.”

Musician Sona Mohapatra went on a Twitter rant against actor Sonakshi Sinha.

Recalling an instance of watching the actor host an awards show, Sona says, “I’ve watched [Sonakshi] from the live audience at a music awards show last year, stumbling over basic lines that she was reading from a teleprompter, not having learnt them. A complete contrast to her supremely talented co-host Ayushmann Khurrana, who was delivering his lines with aplomb, speaking, improvising, singing and being charming! When you can’t say [your] lines being an ‘actor’, which should be a basic skill for your job, why try posing as a pop star? TV shows cover up with smart editing and retakes, so we are all conned. Aspire for higher standards in your field? Did you watch her ‘performance’ during the Coldplay concert? Many did and shared their experiences on their timelines. You should check that out to understand my [stance] better.”

Senior musician Kailash Kher was the first to criticise the choice of Sonakshi, and then many singers expressed a similar opinion. Sonakshi herself clarified afterwards that she was not going to perform at the Bieber concert, stating that the speculation began because she had been approached for an opening act. Singer Armaan Malik also got embroiled in a war of words with Sonakshi following Kher’s comments.

Don’t assume your dream is more valid than any other person’s because you are in an industry that works like an enlarged family and mostly backs only and the ones who suck up to you. Win your place under the arc lights on merit

On April 24, Sona had gone on a Twitter rant against Sonakshi, slamming her for “cutting the line to pursue your entitled dream”. There’s the fact that Sonakshi has cut a single with music composer Honey Singh, so is it wrong if she wishes to sing in future, too? “She is free like anyone else to pursue any dream. Please do it honestly and don’t assume your dream is more valid than any other person’s because you are in an industry that works like an enlarged family and mostly backs only insiders and the ones who suck up to you. Win your place under the arc lights on merit. As I said earlier, one or two songs recorded don’t give you an automatic pass to cut the line of worthier artists and acts that deserve the limited platforms and opportunities that a world stage offers,” retorts Sona.

After reports that Sonakshi would perform at the highly anticipated Bieber concert, Sona had tweeted: “Such a slap on the face of music, audiences, fans of music, performing artists, live music, musicians & also on India. Integrity be damned.” Standing by her words, Sona explains, “In the larger scheme of things, a Justin Bieber concert isn’t that significant, but I do believe it sends out the wrong signals. We should have our best talents represent us in every field.”

Even after Sonakshi released an official statement refuting these reports, clarifying that she’s not performing at the concert, Sona didn’t spare her and tweeted on April 25: “Dear lady, you were condescending to real musicians & singers all through & continue to be with this juvenile ‘face saving’ post now. SAD.”

What made her call Sonakshi’s statement a “juvenile face saving post”? Sona maintains, “She spent a full day talking condescendingly and patronisingly to the young Amaal (Mallik, singer-composer) and Armaan Malik and let her troll army say nastier things to them. Then having faced a backlash from music fans who caught her bluff, [she] decided to backtrack. The clarification came too late and also ended with more condescending trite lines and emoticons. Why shouldn’t we call it ungracious and juvenile? It was. It is.”

Sona further wrote that if Sonakshi wasn’t performing at the Bieber concert, then she should have just said ‘no’ and not talked about her art, dreams and rights on the live performance stage. “I have nothing personal against her. I just wish people [would] stop trivialising music as an art form,” says the singer. “It takes years of perseverance and integrity to become a singer and live performer. Every art form is a universe in itself, and today we aspire to being a jack of all trades and run away from mastery.”

Having tweeted that “I’d refuse to ‘open’ for Justin Bieber even if I was paid truckloads”, Sona elucidates, “I’m not personally fond of his music, so I don’t see why I should conform to popular taste just to fit in with the herd. Also, my music and artistry has a very different soundscape and for me context is everything. Force-fitting myself anywhere for ambition’s sake only is harakiri, to say the least! I have no ill will or malice against him and hope his fans have the night of their lives when he performs in Mumbai.”

About her description of singer Armaan Malik as the “perfect opening act for Bieber”, Sona says, “I gave two names: Armaan Malik and Sanam (the band). They represent the new pop music of India and have worked their way to musical success with hard work. I respect that.”

When we contacted Sonakshi Sinha for a comment on why she chose to block Sona, the actor texted us: “I block all trolls.”

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First Published: Apr 26, 2017 18:48 IST