Singer Sona Mahapatra dares to speak her mind and is least bothered with the trolls. The Ambarsariya singer is an active social media user and often uses the platform to express her opinion on several issues. She recently grabbed the spotlight after she called Kangana Ranaut’s interview on Rajat Sharma’s Aap Ki Adalat a ‘circus’ and slammed her for giving out the personal details of her relationship with Hrithik Roshan. Soon the singer received a backlash from Twitterati for her open letter to Kangana in which she accused the Queen actor of “washing dirty linen in public” and saying everything she said “as part of a professional PR campaign before your film release”. For Sona, Kangana did dis-service to the cause of feminism and fair play.
But the singer who has earlier also openly spoken on the actors vs singers debate on Tuesday wrote another post on Facebook where she questioned Kangana’s brand of feminism and her being crowned for her boldness. Sona writes, “…let’s not get carried away & place a crown on people’s head in such a hurry for being ‘bold’. For me women like Gauri Lankesh, Varnika Kundu, Kiran Shaw Mazumdar, Lata Mangeshkar, PV Sindhu, Vaishali Shadangule, Bhavari Devi, Vandana Malik, Twinkle Khanna, even Susanne Roshan & countless others, many unknown to us & ordinary folk going through a lifetime of pursuing their goals & standing by their beliefs are equally if not more, bold & inspiring.”
Calling Kangana’s comments a ‘sad trail of failed relationships’, the singer reflected upon how all this ‘public tamasha’ affects the families and children of the concerned person. “I’m sorry if I’m not carried away by someone’s anecdotes of who danced with whom on a birthday or who said what on Valentines. No judgement on many of these ‘affairs’, we are all consenting adults here after all & in some books marriage is a redundant social construct in any case but in this case some decency & empathy could be warranted from just about any human, man or woman since families & children also bear the brunt of such public tamashas & especially if there played out on repeat in the public domain?”
Taking forward her earlier post, Sona wrote the new one for those who were unable to understand her point and said she is supporting Hrithik. Read it here:
For me, simply put, feminism means women are equal to men. Neither is inferior or superior. The ideal society in the future would be one in which we all operated & thought as ‘humans’ first & gender did not play a role in the treatment meted out to anyone’s opportunities in the world. While that is a utopian dream in the current day, the reason we need to have such discussions, debates & even fights is to work towards such a future. Attitudinal change in a society won’t happen without the same. This is the ‘good fight’, & worth fighting make no mistake.
So in this particular case I ask, would it be okay for a ‘man’ to do this?
Be part of a pre-release PR trail for their film & keep talking about relationships & affairs, interview after interview & bare gory banal details of personal lives & play to the gallery. He would be crucified for it & I do believe there lies the hypocrisy. In this case the person is being crowned as the leading light of ‘feminism’. Why? How? These relationships were after all those that you chose to have. That they didn’t end well or that you suffered in them is sad, but in my books do not make for a inspiring ‘feminist narrative’ beyond a point.
Someone is insisting on asking you these banal questions? Put them in their place & steer the conversation. Sania Mirza did that very successfully with Rajdeep Sardesai last year to give an example. I do not want young girls to think that the only option they have to navigate the entertainment world is to look for a sugar daddies to start with or even whine about relationships & use them as feminist cards. No judgement on your choices of men but let’s just leave it aside as a considered choice & free will?
To play the small town card over & over again is also not warranted. I have young interns in my company, both boys & girls who have come from small towns to make a living & build a career. Mumbai is full of them. Their journey, struggles & triumphs, just like mine, two decades ago are just as valid. In my books success cannot be measured by your bank balance or endorsement deals or fame. So all the trolls trying to put me down on that measure, please know that my self-belief in this is un-dented. You cannot shove me down your ‘caste hierarchy’ of who is the ‘more successful’. I am, actually. More on that in another post. 😉
So while everyone seems to enjoy a little bit of gossip, let’s not get carried away & place a crown on people’s head in such a hurry for being ‘bold’. For me women like Gauri Lankesh, Varnika Kundu, Kiran Shaw Mazumdar, Lata Mangeshkar, PV Sindhu, Vaishali Shadangule, Bhavari Devi, Vandana Malik, Twinkle Khanna, even Susanne Roshan & countless others, many unknown to us & ordinary folk going through a lifetime of pursuing their goals & standing by their beliefs are equally if not more, bold & inspiring.
We are a country where there are frightening issues when it comes to women. Apart from those bigger, more obvious ones, everyday is a serious navigation for the average woman in the country. From carrying drinking water for miles home on foot, basic safety issues in public transport to hundreds of others. I could make a list of these issues I’m talking about but I’m sure most of you know them already. So I’m sorry if I’m not carried away by someone’s sad trail of failed relationships or anecdotes of who danced with whom on a birthday or who said what on Valentines. No judgement on many of these ‘affairs’, we are all consenting adults here after all & in some books marriage is a redundant social construct in any case but in this case some decency & empathy could be warranted from just about any human, man or woman since families & children also bear the brunt of such public tamashas & especially if there played out on repeat in the public domain? Having taken the fight head on legally & winning should be victory enough? We incidentally took the same family to court on a copyright case years ago & won. It was a first for India in terms of music IP & set a precedent in the Indian courts. There was enough & more coverage of the same by media reporting the facts. Didn’t feel the need to land up in every TV station to gloat over our victory. Refused everytime. Still do, during all these ‘controversies’ I find myself in. I’m not into the ‘get famous quick’ by yapping on TV everyday tribe. My personal pages are where I express myself as an artiste & social commentator.
That having being said, I find it interesting & sad that every celebratory & congratulatory post that I have written in the last decade about the triumphs of women like Kangana is mostly ignored on this page by the media & the moment I raise a question, the whole world comes in to dance on the likely ‘controversy’ & ‘conflict’ . So yes, that is the culture we live in & I am okay to embrace it. That apart some ‘feminists’ friends of Kangana have come forth apart from the usual filmi trolls, part of a larger PR spending machinery to try & shame me from sharing my views. I am more than happy to respond to any argument that is rational & fuels thought. Not taking this personally. To those in my audience & media who understood my point of view, I feel grateful for. Thank you.
A very few in our country are as celebrated & provided with huge platforms to influence to air their ‘views’ & influence change as ‘film-stars’ are in India. Kind of sad state of affairs & reflects very badly on us as a society but it’s the harsh truth. So a good looking gym going, dieting person & in this case one who does act certain roles out well but mostly many who are propped up by an army of hardworking, talented, creative people, writers & technicians to create his/her persona become the cover of every magazine, the judge of every reality show, singers, participants on ‘panel discussions’ & ‘leadership summits’ on all kinds of topics, the ambassador for the UN & other world bodies on various human rights, women’s rights, education, environment & even the mascot for ‘sports’ events like the Olympics. The only ‘youth icons’ so to say outside of the cricketers. It’s like a country of 1 billion cannot think & see beyond the superficial.
Within this culture, when you are amongst the privileged ones to have reached a position of power to influence change, the least you can do is try & highlight the bigger picture & prepare & share insights from your personal journey & your work in a manner that is not ‘low-brow’?
Part of what your privilege & huge commercial returns affords you unlike the rest of the successful but not so rich professionals is big teams of super smart people that help you strategise, run digital armies, write speeches, dress you up & find you such platforms to share your ‘views’. Let me give this to you Kangana, you have done a commendable job on this front, many times around & not just in comparison to your ditzy peers. Fought & won language battles although I believe your superior & fluent heartland Hindi should in itself have been enough to keep your ‘we are Hindi film actors who can barely speak hindi’ competition far behind, stood & spoke for equal wages, fuelled & won the ‘nepotism’ issue & India’s heart. All of this I did & do clap for like many others.
The current round? No. In bad taste as I opined earlier. Nothing more, nothing less. That you have been a welcome addition to the change makers in this country who are breaking stereotypes of women & creating a dent in the stranglehold of patriarchy in the public sphere is without question & undeniable. That we should make you out to be the pinnacle of the feminist cause, no matter what you do, I don’t agree with. This is my opinion & everyone is entitled to theirs. Mine is accompanied by an essay though. So I am doing the hard grind in a sense & in the middle of a crazy work & travel schedule to boot! 🙂
If you choose to write back a well thought out response like you have in the past on various issues, I’d more than welcome it. Conversations change the world. Have, since the ages. Public intellectual debate is the bedrock of an evolving & progressive society after all.
That apart, dearest India, can we talk & learn from such occasions & not make it out to be a personal attack?
Those media people flashing headlines of my support to ‘Hritik’, please note, you are being reductive & miles away from my intentions.
Reductive : tending to present a subject or problem in a simplified, crude form.
Here is Sona Mohapatra’s open letter to Kangana Ranaut: