Sona Mohapatra: Am a misfit of an artiste in Bollywood

By Arundhuti Banerjee

Mumbai, Aug 16 (IANS): Singer-songwriter Sona Mohapatra believes that even though her choice of 'living life on her own terms' and speaking her heart out made her journey as an artiste tougher, it has also liberated her as an artiste.

Sona told IANS: "I am a little strange and misfit of an artiste in Bollywood or in the Mumbai music industry because I am always doing everything on my own terms. So naturally, my work opportunity in film music is less. Therefore I am not in a rat race. From the time I started my journey as a musician, I always focused on putting out original songs as opposed to counting on the number of Bollywood songs I lend my voice to. For me, it is not an ultimate achievement to have 100 Bollywood songs in my kitty, I would rather have original, independent songs. Yes, it is time-consuming, but these are original work."

Since the pandemic, like all the other industries, the music industry has also got affected especially film music.

Highlighting how her choices of working on original songs back in the day hold so much relevance in the present time, Sona mentioned, "you see, during the pandemic, as the opportunity is shrinking in film music and the streaming audio platforms are coming, every musician is trying to put out an original song. They are also now acknowledging the fact that I was ahead of my time because, throughout my career, I have released my original songs while singing songs for films. I invested money to build my own studio, a proper set up because I believe that an artist has to be the in-charge of her own story."

Sona's self-produced docu-feature 'Shut Up Sona', directed by Deepti Gupta, has been selected as one of the films to be screened at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne, after travelling to several other festivals, where it won awards, including a National Film Award for best editing.

The story of the film encapsulates the journey of Sona as an artist who is labelled as a 'trouble maker' for voicing her opinion on matters that curtail the freedom of expression of female artistes, and how she navigates her ways to find her own space.

The best part of her journey is while Sona is loved by her fans for her songs like 'Ambarsariya', 'Jiya Laage Na', 'Naina', 'Dil Aaj Kal', 'Bolo Na', 'Mujhe Kya Bechega Rupaiya' among many others, she often gets criticised for being outspoken. As 'Shut Up Sona' will soon release on an Indian OTT platform, it would be interesting to look out for the audience's response after knowing the person behind the artiste that we get to see 'on-camera'.

Asked about why she produced the film herself instead of looking for a producer, Sona replied, " Firstly in India, this kind of feature-length documentary on an artist has never been made. Secondly, people have a preconceived notion that docus are made only 'on serious issues', 'it's boring', activism and does not have a wider audience. It was not a docu-feature made sitting in one room. We shot it by travelling to 17 it was quite an expensive affair. For me, as an artist, why am I doing this, what exactly it would be, was hard to explain to an investor, because I had no reference point, it was first of its kind."

She further added, "When we finally made it, travelled in festivals and the audience watched it during screening in collective, those moments of laughter, silence, reactions and post-screening Q&A - made me realise 'Shut Up Sona' has broken those stereotypes of 'docus are boring'! No, it wasn't. When it comes to investing money, I think instead of putting money to buy social media followers to become a social media star, I would put money to make a film, feel liberated as an artiste to tell my story in my way."

"Nothing, really nothing gives me more of a high than when a stadium full of thousands of audience is singing along with me in my live concerts. I belong there," Sona signed off.



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