I don’t want to sing the last four lines in a song that mainly has Arijit Singh’s voice: Sona Mohapatra

Sona Mohapatra says she has often walked out of recording studios because she doesn’t want to sing songs where “Antara mukhara, antara mukhra is Arijit and I get to sing the last four lines”.

music Updated: Mar 24, 2018 10:20 IST
Sweta Kaushal
Sweta Kaushal
Hindustan Times
Sona Mohapatra,Arijit Singh,Aamir Khan
Sona Mohapatra speaks about her work, Bollywood, and more in an exclusive chat with Hindustan Times.(AFP)

Be it the quirky Bedardi Raja (Delhi Belly, 2011) or the soulful Mujhe Kya Bechega Rupaiya (Satyaemev Jayate), her songs have longevity. Her melodious voice isn’t the only star quality Sona Mohapatra has though. Her brave attitude is another asset she has.

In an industry where everyone wants to keep the big studios happy, Sona Mohapatra never shied away from calling out big names. She says she has often walked out of recording studios because she doesn’t want to sing only closing lines.

Sona told Hindustan Times, “I have been called up for such songs and I have walked out of studios because I don’t want to sing a song where a mukhra-antara, mukhra-antara is Arijit and I sing the last four lines. It is almost like a man wants to make love to himself in a song. Even in a romantic duet, if the female gets a part only in the end, it is very bizarre and this is in a country where we couldn’t put out a sound track without a (Lata) Mangeshkar voice!”

“As an audience we always had evolved taste but right now the industry is in a very regressive state. Recently, someone did an extensive research and analysis and came up with an article which reveals that out of 10, every 8 songs have a male voice and the solos are even lesser,” she added.

Sona impacts the lives of her fans and she knows it pretty well. “I might sound immodest but I will tell you about an incident. I went and performed in Rewa (Madhya Pradesh) where I met this waiter who told me, ‘Madam! Aap jo saree ke sath shirt pehnte ho aur saath me belt lagate ho na, maine apne behen ko bola hai ki tu bhi pehen. Cool bhi lagta hai aur asaani bhi....chadhta nahi hai kaam karne ya chalne pe.’ He was so detailed in his observation, I was overwhelmed, it was so rewarding,” she said.

Reminding the hardships she faced in her career, Sona said, “For all those years of thinking why aren't there more opportunities, I think I have found fantastic allies like Aamir Khan. I don’t have to have everyone on my side. I happened to find someone like Ram Sampath (composer) who has been with me for the longest time and we live in a time where we don’t have to suck up to people and wait for that one big break. I would rather sing Mujhe Kya Bechega Ruppaiyya which had a wide cultural impact rather than sing hundreds of love songs. I have a Naina, I have an Ambarsariya but it is okay if I don’t get 50 of those. I have never been just a singer. I consider myself a much superior performing artist.”

Given her opinionated views on several political and gender issues, the singer has also faced a lot of criticism, especially online. However, she claimed she is so trained now that she can run coaching classes on how to handle trolls. “If there is anyone who is well equipped to handle negativity, it has to be me. I come from an engineering college which was a very sexist environment. Where the women were supposed to wear their dupattas in a certain angle and a certain place above their bosom in a manner that it doesn’t offend the ‘sanskari’ people, just to control us and create a scenario where we are ashamed for our body, ashamed of our clothes, ashamed of fighting elections. But I fought elections. The fact that I was changing the rules, my juniors would come to me and say that we’ve heard this and that, we are so proud we had someone like you before us. And I saw the changes. Girls and boys were talking more freely in the coming batches,” she said.

“ I recently spoke about an incident when I was brutally harmed and was abused on a train. The kind of online comments were ridiculous responses that could be there, I was told who wears a pair of jeans. but I think it is best that these people come out and expose the world for what it is. I am one of the busiest artists in this country and it is not because of Bollywood but because I have been putting out my own music. I am very grateful for the times we are living in. We are at a flashpoint when it comes to women issues, a lot of discussion is happening. I believe I am standing on the right side of the history,” she added.

Sona is best known for her hit songs Ambarsariya and Mujhe Kya Bechega Rupaiyya. (PTI)

She said, “There was a time (10 years ago) when my Facebook posts would attract negative comments in the public and people would send me personal messages who would not have the gumption to write on the page... for the fear of being trolled... women would rarely comment on the page... now I see people voicing their support for me in public -- both men and women are openly expressing support for the cause of freedom....now I don’t have to be fighting every idiotic comment... I have my fans fighting for my side.”

Sona has recently come up with a new project, Lal Pari Mastani which was launched in association with Facebook. “I launched this artist’s alter ego with Lal Pari Mastani and my biggest ally has been Facebook. I have had the opportunity to reach out to my audience only because of Facebook. This project is much more than just music, we are releasing films, there will be fashion statements and historical and social commentary in these as well,” she said.

“We recently launched India’s first immersive outdoor 360 degree video shot in Vrindavan. I started this with my hero, Meera. She wasn’t just a poetess but also a rebel. She was a subversive artist. We are also doing travel films. We have had online conversations around why Meera was not given the same importance as her male counterparts.”

Elaborating on the name of her project, Sona said, “The colour red has been driving force in my life represents feminity and the power of Shakti. Just to tell you about the origin of it all, I am a travel addict and I was sitting in one of these cold places in Delhi about 15 years ago in winters and there was a French woman talking about the North Frontier where Taliban had come and restricted women in public places. They had banned music and dance and everything which I believe make the world beautiful. Women were not supposed to go out or wear anything but black. And in a sea of black, she was telling of a woman who was dressed in red, with a club in her hand and she used to sing and dance in the streets and live in a dargah. So in a sense, she was the rebel who did not care what was happening in the place.”

Interact with the author @swetakaushal
Follow @htshowbiz for more

First Published: Mar 24, 2018 09:20 IST