Sonu Nigam: When society decides to start passing judgements, instead of the law, there will be terror
Singer Sonu Nigam’s comments in public often leads to controversies. Recently, the 45-year-old singer’s comments involving Pakistani singers, and in the context of the #MeToo movement where he questioned Sona Mohapatra, ruffled many feathers. Last year, the singer’s tweet against loudspeakers, particularly involving early morning azaans, raised eyebrows. In an exclusive interview, Sonu talks about these issues, and explains his comments. Excerpts:
Despite writing on Facebook, that you support the #MeToo movement, your recent interview against Sona Mohapatra made everyone feel like you are against the opposite gender, and the movement. What made you say those things, and would you like to make any clarifications?
I wrote on Facebook that if one is not supporting the movement they must be an animal. I repeat that I am happy that a movement like #MeToo has come up. Ab aadmiyo ki fategi. They will think 100 times before even approaching someone, and yes it was a needed movement. But you don’t have the right to ban someone, punish someone, ya usko job se nikal diya – that is something I said is not right. The law has to do that, and I am telling you the day society decides to start passing judgements, instead of the law, there will be terror in society. Any good country has to follow the law of the land. You can’t be selective.
What do you mean being selective?
Ek taraf aap TV mein ek aadmi, ek singer ko dekhte hain openly smooch kar raha hai. Aur aapne kuch nahi kiya usko. Kuch nai bola uske against. Kyun, who ladki ladki nahi hai kya? Is she less of a woman? So where are these so called saviours of society? In this case you have evidence, even then you didn’t say anything. And in the case where there’s no evidence, you want that person to not get any job in future? How is that justified? What kind of world are we living in? Thik hai, you abuse that person, you ignore them and everything, but you cannot take away his right to earn a living, can you?
So you are saying you are against the ‘actions’ Sona has asked for?
Which society allows the common man to decide someone’s quantum of punishment? Akhlaq ka murder (Dadri mob lynching of 2015) kyun hua? Because common man believed that he had beef and he was killed over it. That’s what happens if you allow common man to start delivering judgments. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying you shouldn’t raise your voice. You should accuse a person, no matter how big or small their stature. You have said Kailash Kher can’t do a show. Fair enough. But then you are writing letters to Arvind Kejriwal. Why is she doing that? Who gives her the right to decide that a singer cannot do a show? Then what’s the difference between you and Islamic terrorists? This is a kind of terrorism that you are deciding who works with whom?
Sona had an issue when you referred to her as a ‘friend’s wife’. What are your thoughts on that?
If I know a person, a wife through a friend, that’s how I will refer to her na? Sona is not my friend. Ram Sampath is my soul brother. I know her through Ram. So I called her my friend’s wife. She cannot call me Madhu’s husband or Neevan’s father, because she is not close to either of them. I didn’t know that wife was a wrong word. I found out today it’s a shameful word. We were in the wrong school. Our parents taught us wrong. Humari ma to galat thi. Humare papa ki wife banke galti kar di unhone.
Your recent comments on Pakistani singers too seemed to upset people?
I was asked a question about business. It’s a simple thing. Indian singers have to pay money [to music companies]. If music companies are helping them grow big, they deserve to ask for a share. What I was saying was that Pakistan singers don’t have to do that. But, if you are asking Indian singers for money then Pakistani singers should also be giving that, because they are also singing for you only na? And I had joked that I wish I was born in Pakistan. People took it in some other context. I have been saying for the last 25 years we cannot ban them, and everyone was saying they should be banned. [But] Hum itne tang dil nahi ho sakte ki hum unhe ban kar dein.
Your comments have been upsetting people. Your tweets regarding azaan and loudspeakers were interpreted as hating Muslims?
I am against loudspeakers. People interpreted it as I am against azaan and a common Muslim thought I am against their religion. No, I am against the loudspeakers and the wrong timing of it. People tell me but you also use loudspeakers for your shows. But I take permission from the authorities for it right? And we stop it after 10pm. I can’t put a loudspeaker at my home and tell people to listen to me all day long? If someone puts up a loudspeaker at my place, which plays my mother’s lullaby every morning – I don’t even want that. I hope that makes it clear that I am against the loudspeaker and not the religion or people who practice that particular religion.
How do you feel at getting entangled in these controversies? Do you regret making such comments in public?
Throughout history, you will see that people who talk differently and speak nothing but the truth are targeted. You look at Socrates or Galileo. Even now, look at Javed Akhtar saab for example. I think he speaks the truth, and says things from a logical perspective. But, he too gets a lot of flak. That doesn’t mean they are wrong.
So what exactly is your perspective on all these controversies around you?
I am a man of love, and I will speak in that language. I believe everyone has to be kind. You cannot be hard. You have to be kind to each other. Even when someone is wrong. I will not shy away if I am being asked a question. I will answer it truthfully. The day I know I speak wrong, I will shut up automatically about it.
Interact with the author on Twitter/@sammysamarth