FOR THE last three years, Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav’s daughter-in-law Aparna Yadav has been performing at the Lucknow Mahotsav, organised by Uttar Pradesh government in the state capital every year. Aparna was not only allotted the prime time of closing ceremonies for her stage performances, the event organiser Lucknow Mahostav Samiti paid her Rs 1 lakh each year for the performances in 2013 and 2014, when she sang bhajans and Bollywood songs among others.
Though many well-known artistes received more money than Aparna for their performances at Lucknow Mahotsav, dozens of other “local artistes” hardly get Rs 50,000 for their gigs.
The performance at Lucknow Mahotsav is considered an achievement by many and several even cite this in their résumés.
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In 2013, Aparna performed during the closing ceremony and was paid Rs 1 lakh, according to information obtained by The Indian Express under RTI Act from the Lucknow Mahotsav Samiti. That year, none of the 41 local artistes who performed at the mahotsav were paid more than Rs 75,000, with most of them paid anywhere between Rs 8,000 and Rs 50,000 for their performances. Bollywood playback Singer Sapna Mukherjee, who had won the Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer in 1989, was paid only Rs 40,000, as per the information obtained through the RTI application.
The artistes who charged the most during 2013 were Sunidhi Chauhan (Rs 29 lakh), Javed Ali (Rs 8.50 lakh), Indian Ocean Band (Rs 4.75 lakh), Neha Kakkar (Rs 4.50 lakh), Penaz Masani (Rs 2.90 lakh), Sunil Pal (Rs 1.75 lakh), and Pandit Chhanulal Mishra (Rs 1.75 lakh).
In 2014, Aparna again performed during the closing ceremony with flautist Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia. Aparna was paid Rs 1 lakh while Chaurasia got Rs 5 lakh. The same year, Rs 1 lakh was charged by Bharatnatyam artiste Devayani, a Padma Shri awardee.
In 2014, the artistes who were paid the most were singer Arijit Singh (Rs 40 lakh), Sukhwinder Singh and dance troupe (Rs 22.50 lakh), television artistes Shilpa Rao and Sayantani Ghosh (Rs 10.50 lakh), singer Rekha Bhardwaj (Rs 7.75 lakh), comedians Krishna, Sudesh and Ankit Tiwari (Rs 11 lakh), Ghazal singers Bhupinder and Mitali (Rs 5.25 lakh), Mohan Veena maestro Vishwa Mohan Bhatt (Rs 3 lakh), and Aryan Band (Rs 3 lakh).
Prior to that, in 2012 too, Aparna had performed on the night of closing ceremony. However, there is no mention of her name among artistes who performed or if any amount was paid to her, in the RTI reply. The artistes who got maximum money for their performances in 2012 were Gurdas Maan (Rs 10 lakh), Remo Fernandes (Rs 9.50 lakh), Javed Ali (Rs 8.5 lakh), Wadali brothers (Rs 8.50 lakh), Abhijeet Sawant (Rs 8.50 lakh), Manoj Tiwari (Rs 5 lakh), Bhupinder and Mitali (Rs 4.50 lakh).
Aparna performed at this year’s Lucknow Mahotsav with the likes of Hariharan. During the closing ceremony, the main attraction was Pakistani Ghazal singer Ghulam Ali.
Lucknow Regional Tourism Officer and Lucknow Mahotsav Samiti Secretary Rajendra Prasad Yadav said Aparna has not placed any demand of payment for her performance this year. He said the selection of artistes is done by a committee headed by Lucknow Divisional Commissioner.”
“Those artistes who have the highest TRP and those who can attract large crowds are selected for performances. Their payment is decided as per their prevalent market rates,” he said about selection of artistes.
About Aparna’s performances, he said she had performed with other artistes like Aadesh Shrivastava on one occasion. Aparna could not be reached despite several attempts.
Aparna had married Mulayam’s younger son Prateek in 2011. She has been described as trained singer who learnt music and singing at Lucknow-based Bhatkhande Music Institute. She had also performed at Saifai Mahotsav, organised by the family members of Mulayam in his ancestral village in Etawah district every year.