Sona Mohapatra: Was hopeful that Shut Up Sona will go places, but National Film Award was unexpected

Singer Sona Mohapatra opens up about her feature documentary, Shut Up Sona, winning a National Film Award, and the reason behind her missing the award ceremony.
Sona Mohapatra’s feature documentary, Shut Up Sona, won a National Film Award for Best Editing
Sona Mohapatra’s feature documentary, Shut Up Sona, won a National Film Award for Best Editing
Published on Oct 30, 2021 11:08 PM IST
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BySugandha Rawal

Singer Sona Mohapatra was in Leh, Ladakh, when the National Film Award for Best Editing was handed out to the team of her feature documentary, Shut Up Sona. But the singer, who also produced the film, believes that missing the ceremony doesn’t take away the joy of winning the national honour.

The award was accepted by film editor Arjun Gourisaria and director Deepti Gupta in the ceremony, held recently in Delhi.

“Work comes first for me, but the most important people were there to accept the honour. It was Gourisaria’s award to start with. He has shaped the film into 90 minutes from footage of over 300 hours. It is not a joke,” shares Mohapatra, who was in the hills to shoot her next music video.

The documentary follows Mohapatra’s journey as she travels as a musician, questioning the deep rooted issue of sexism and patriarchy in the country. The Ambarsariya (Fukrey; 2013) singer mentions that initially, people shrugged it off as a self-indulgent project, like a home video.

“Nobody thought that I was producing a film with a larger story, and a universal theme. There was a big gender story, with music, culture and travel in the heart. We were hopeful that it would go to the best places, which it did. But to win a National Award was the most unexpected,” admits the singer, who describes the project as her “love letter to India”.

But what makes her say that? “First, I felt that the documentary feature genre is not understood well in the country… It is raw, unadulterated and in your face. We have asked some pertinent questions,” she shares.

Looking back at the making of the project, Mohapatra, 45, says, “Shooting it was the most toughest, an exhausting and exhilarating experience. I was doing back-to-back shows during the making of the film, because I had to finance it. In fact, my right rotator cuff was torn because I had no rest... But in the end, it was very beautiful, as the film has won a number of international awards, and a National Film Award. It was honestly a cherry on the cake and a very special honour.”

The honour surprised her as the film touches upon sensitive topics. She confesses, “I am a controversial figure, who questions a lot of things. Also, there are a lot of controversial things in the film apart from a lot of music and love for the country, so I find it amusing.”

Now, Mohapatra isn’t scared to be immodest, and proudly proclaims that she is the first woman artiste to pull off such an achievement.

“I remember some well-wishers telling me to hide the fact that I produced the film when it first premiered at MAMI (Mumbai Film Festival). I was like, ‘Why should I hide it?’ I should be proud about it. There are anyway no songs for women in the industry, opportunities are limited, and if we won’t support ourselves and each other, toh kaun karega,” asserts the Anhad Naad singer.

At the moment, the singer is out of the documentary phase, and focused on taking her team back on the concert stage. “I have been releasing a lot of my own music through the pandemic, and I am blessed to be invited to perform,” she concludes.

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