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Monday, October 25, 2021

Sona Mohapatra: My favourite artistes are those who have stood up for things

Singer Sona Mohapatra on independent music, space for female artistes and the #MeToo movement.

Written by Komal RJ Panchal | Mumbai |
Updated: April 9, 2020 4:23:21 pm
sona mohapatra Sona Mohapatra thinks female singers and artistes do not get many opportunities to express themselves. (Photo: Instagram/shutupsona).

During a live session on The Indian ExpressFacebook page, singer Sona Mohapatra spoke about online trolls, her participation in the #MeToo movement and more.

When asked about being outspoken about topical issues, Sona said, “I think I just have been one type of person all my life. I don’t think too hard. I just think it is very important as an artiste to express yourself, and go beyond entertaining audiences. We have to have a say and need to engage with the socio-economic environment. I think my favourite artistes are those who have stood up for things. Artistes who draw your attention to things that you normally don’t think about are inspiring. I am no one to preach, I make mistakes, and I have my own flaws, but I would like to learn every day.”

The artiste was asked by one of the viewers during the live session if she had enough proof against Anu Malik when she accused him of alleged sexual misconduct. Sona Mohapatra responded, “12 women spoke up about their experiences with Anu Malik, and many more did but decided to not speak in the public domain. Are you thinking that these women had something to gain by speaking about this one person? These women are from around the world. They are of all ages, some of them are minors. I was asked to leave Sa Re Ga Ma Pa show. You think I got any returns by following this ‘trend’ as you call it? The world around is having a conversation about how we need to have safer workspaces, and how we need to listen to people who are speaking up. After I spoke up, so many women could speak up and tell their story. Next time when a family member says that they have been sexually abused or were asked for sexual favours, please listen to them and believe them. Don’t make them feel ashamed. The whole idea of victim shaming is what makes our society such a ridiculously unsafe place for most women, especially in the workplace.”

The singer was then asked why there is so much “vulgar music” these days. She said, “There is a lot of good music too if you seek it out. If you are being bombarded with vulgar music, you have an option of tuning it out. It is your choice.”

A viewer then asked Sona Mohapatra why she doesn’t perform in music festivals like NH7. The singer said that NH7 never “invites me, and I don’t care.”

“Very few female headliners get to perform in the music festivals sponsored by big corporates and that is such an irony as we have a lot of ‘woke’ people around. There should be a healthy debate about things to make a better tomorrow. The woke people in the world should understand where my pain comes from. The corporates of India and those from IITs, IIMs and Harvard are thought to have a liberal mindset. How woke have they been when they get to sponsor festivals like NH7, but don’t notice that even 4-5% representation does not come from women artistes. They speak about (backing) independent music, but where is the sponsorship or the money? They don’t back their cause with money. Money is respect. They don’t pay the independent artiste. They don’t pay the folk musicians. They throw out a judge like me from a television reality show because she wants to speak up. This shows that they don’t respect art and that this space has only become transactional,” Sona concluded.

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