Only 8 out of 100 songs are sung by female singers in Bollywood: Sona Mohapatra

Sona Mohapatra

Famed singer Sona Mohapatra has been known for her outspoken attitude and approach. Speaking on the News18 India Chaupal, the ‘Ambarsariya’ singer said that she was a popularity seeking child. “I have always loved the spotlight but I love having attention for the right reasons. Every time wherever I have been, I have received attention for the right reasons.”

Talking about her song Ambarsariya only, Sona shared some statistics. She said, “Arijit Singh’s ‘tum hi ho’ was released the same year Ambarsariya came out. Arijit Singh is a fantastic artist. In the same year, Arijit sung some 200 songs, I think – there were films were Arijit sang all the songs. But I did not sing a song in a film for at least 4 more years. And it was not that for some reason I was not liked. Truth is I thought I was lacking something. I started collating numbers. According to my own research till now, out of every 100 songs, only 8-9 have female voice, in Bollywood. We belong to nation where you could not imagine a soundtrack without Lataji or Ashaji. Now, the more we are progressing, we are regressing.”

“If you listen to duets, the female will sing the last 4-5 lines in the entire song. Even I was approached by Pritam ji for the song Zaalima. The entire song was supposed to be sung by Arijit and the female was being given 4-5 lines in the end. I thought – is the man wanting to make love to himself, after all it was a love song!”

Recently, Sona accused Kailash Kher and Anu Malik of sexual misconduct. Talking about the matter, she said, “Delhi government invited a multiple-times accused predator Kailash Kher to perform and I started a petition against the same. 8,000 people signed that petition. I followed each and every process to complaint to the Delhi government but they did not think it was necessary to answer and went ahead with the show.”

“But I don’t think it was a complete loss. It at least started a conversation. I think conversations are so important in changing things. This went into a positive direction since people started thinking about why am I angry and why are so many people petitioning?”

Sonu Nigam has also came out in support of Anu Malik. Talking about this, the singer said, “I respect Sonu Nigam a lot. I have a lot of regard for his dedication to his craft. He has been very kind to me personally. What he said was really disheartening. He said what if so many people accused him. Multiple women have accused him and Sonu Nigam supported him. He is supporting a millionaire who, along with his family, is privileged and entitled. What about the multiple women who have complained against them? So much sympathy for Anu Malik, a known predator but what about the women who have been affected over the years – even minor girls?”

When asked whether her campaigning against such things lead to loss in singing opportunities, she said, “People, from twitter, might think I am a full-time activist but I am not. I am extremely hard working. I say this to everyone that please take charge of your own narrative. I am not one of those who wait for that one elusive break. I believe in putting in more hours of hard work than anyone else.  I think India is listening and the country is on a beautiful cusp. Artists like us are being celebrated without having to suck up to the establishment, in a sense.”

Sona came into the music industry after she completed her education – graduation and then MBA. Talking about her late entry and struggles, she said, “You must have heard many times that we were staying at (bus/ railway) stations and all – when they talk about their starting struggles. There is a similarity in Bollywood struggle story, supposedly. I didn’t have the same struggle. I came after completing my studies. I decided I will do a job so that I wont have to come under any pressure to seek that one break.”

“I started by releasing my own music with Sony. I never had the dream of being a playback singer. Playback holds a great significance in our industry – we have grown up with wonderful Bollywood music. But I thought with a voice and personality like mine – If I will start my career with films, I will get pigeonholed into item some song. Or I would be singing one type of songs only. Fortunately, I took some time and sung some amazing romantic ballads.”

Sona has a production company with her composer husband Ram Sampath. Commenting on the it, she said, “People understand male jodis such has Salim-Suleiman, Vishal-Shekhar to name a few but if a husband-wife work together then it automatically becomes that I would only be singing and Ram Sampath would be composing. But the truth is we have been equal partners of our music production company where we have done over 3000 jingles in advertising. One of the biggest campaigns in advertising was ‘Paas aao naa’ – licensed it to Close-Up which has been running for over 9 years now in more than 13 languages.”

“I have done the hard grind required to make things work. I understand the processes – the legalities, the writing process etc. etc. But when it comes in the media, it is different. Especially the trolling. I have faced so much trolling that I can start my own coaching class (for trolling).” She added.

When asked how one can become expert in trolling Sona said, “Developing a thick skin is very very crictical but it is also important that we keep our sensitivities intact. I have learnt a lot from trolling. It is very naïve to think world is full of good things and good people. We get to hear so many disgusting thoughts and views that I think speaking up for yourself, standing up for yourself, having an opinion is very important.”