Music

Happy Birthday Sona Mohapatra! Celebrating A Singer & No-Nonsense Speaker

By
Saumik Satpathy

Singer, composer and lyricist Sona Mohapatra was born in Cuttack on June 17, 1976.

She completed her engineering degree from the College of Engineering and Technology, Bhubaneswar, before doing an MBA from Symbiosis Centre for Management & HRD, Pune.

Though she began her playback career with the 2006 film ‘Family: Ties of Blood’, it was only the popular track ‘Ambarsariya’ from the 2013 film ‘Fukrey’ that brought her to limelight.

Sona, who is married to composer Ram Sampath, produced a first-of-its-kind multi-award-winning documentary — titled ‘Shut Up Sona’ — on her journey as a singer.

Among her upcoming projects is Barsai Badaria, featuring Mira’s poetry. She departs from the usual bhakti rasa associated with her to explore a sensuous love song. This project will feature Purbayan Chatterjee on the sitar and Sanjoy Das on the guitar, and is an original composition by Ram Sampath.

A live experience titled ‘The Lal Pari Mastani Show’ is being launched, showcasing the six stages of love through live music at its core, with multiple vocalists, dancers, and a multimedia showcase. This will encompass six chapters of songs, from ‘pehli nazar’ to stages like ‘junoon’ and ‘judaai’, marking an exciting opportunity for Sona to explore her boundaries as an artist, director and producer of a concept-based, brand-new live show.

Loved for her husky voice and brilliant songs, Sona is also known for her savage replies and straight talk which trigger headlines and controversies, keeping her in the headlines.

Here are 10 of her no-nonsense and straight-from-heart comments:

1. Slamming ‘Kabir Singh’ (2019)

Sona didn’t hold back when she criticised Shahid Kapoor and Kiara Advani’s film for promoting misogyny. “How can we keep such deeply disturbing, dark & dangerous politics ‘aside’? Does the actor have no responsibility for choosing to play a part in a narrative that can set us back as a society?” she tweeted after the release of ‘Kabir Singh.

Netizens were quick to point out her 2011 song ‘Bedardi Raja’, with one user commenting, “Dear Mam, where was your sense of moral responsibility when you sang ‘Bedardi Raja’… you are covering new grounds of ‘double standards’.” Sona clapped back, tweeting, “A woman singing lustily and celebrating her own sexuality isn’t likely to cause violence and it isn’t the same thing as a man grabbing a woman without her consent.”

2. Rocking The Monokini (2020)

Sona faced backlash for posting a picture in a black monokini, with trolls accusing her of hypocrisy in the context of the #MeToo movement. She shut down the trolls by sharing more pictures, writing, “I shared some last evening & ppl wrote in saying ‘wearing slut clothes & then saying #MeToo?!’ Some felt let down, ;thought you were a serious person?!’ Many sent ❤️ & 🔥. I refuse to fit into any box, just like I refuse to suck in my well-earned belly. 2020, here I come!”

3. Supporting Rangoli Chandel (2020)

When Kangana Ranaut’s sister Rangoli Chandel had her Twitter account suspended, Sona stood by her right to free expression. “Just read on my timeline that the ‘Rangoli Chandel-Kangana Ranaut’ handle has been suspended by @twitter? While I might not subscribe to all their views, I also stand by their right to express them. Let’s not be so ‘politically correct’ & quick to be offended dear #WokeSabha,” Sona tweeted.

4. Taking On Salman Khan (2019)

Sona called out Salman Khan for his constant jibes at Priyanka Chopra Jonas after she opted out of his film ‘Bharat’ to get married. “Cus @priyankachopra has better things to do in life, real men to hang out with & more importantly, girls to inspire with her journey,” Sona posted. She received rape and death threats from Salman fans for her stance. She shared screenshots of mails and messages that she received to expose the vile messages.

5. Criticising Salman’s ‘Raped Woman’ Comment (2016)

In 2016, Salman made a controversial comment comparing his exhaustion from filming a wrestling sequence to feeling like a ‘raped woman’. Sona was among the first to condemn Salman’s statement. As she faced backlash from Salman’s fans, Sona stood her ground. “Women thrashed, people run over, wildlife massacred & yet #hero of the nation. ‘Unfair’. India full of such supporters,” Sona tweeted.

6. Defending Ira Khan (2022)

After Aamir Khan’s daughter Ira Khan was trolled for wearing a bikini at her birthday party, Sona tweeted in her defence, emphasising that Ira is an adult who doesn’t need anyone’s approval to make her own choices. “All the people outraging about Ira Khan’s choice of attire or linking it to what #AamirKhan said, did or didn’t in the past please note; she is 25. A free, thinking, adult woman. Is exercising her choices. Doesn’t need her dad’s approval or yours. BUZZ off,” was Sona’s strong message.

7. Shutting Down a Misogynist Troll (2020)

A man once directed a tweet at Sona which said, “Why all feminists have to show cleavage in order to compete with men… and after seeing ur few interviews i think ur a victim of bolly gang but again ur trying to woo them to be in their gang. wat a dichotomy.” Sona’s response was a masterclass in wit. “I’d suggest you treat the multiple ‘cleavages’ in your brain before talking with anyone, let alone with a ‘feminist’ trying to ‘woo’ the ‘bolly gang’. (Cleavage, noun: a sharp division; a split.),” Sona retorted.

8. Sparring With Rangoli Chandel (2020)

Rangoli Chandel described Sona’s comments about Kangana Ranaut “below average junk.” Taking a dig at nepotism, Sona replied: “Hahaha.. the sister of the flag-bearer of the fight against what? Not nepotism for sure. My sisters don’t speak for me or troll for me, I have two. Also, Kangana might be impressing the mediocre with her messiah avatar, not me, surely not any basic intellect, forget intellectual.”

9. Open Letter To IIT Bombay (2015)

In an open letter, Sona condemned IIT Bombay’s sexist approach towards female artists. Calling out the organisers of Mood Indigo festival for insisting that she perform with a male artist, Sona highlighted the hypocrisy in their stance on gender equality.

“For three years in a row I’ve been getting calls from your Mood-I committee members for a concert in your festival but the invite always comes with a caveat. A BIG caveat. A non negotiable caveat. A ‘MAN’ needs to be clubbed in on the marquee to validate my stage, a paid stage in particular,” Sona wrote on her official Facebook page.

10. Women’s Safety… Long Way To Go

Sona Mohapatra shared a video from her live show, highlighting the predominantly male audience and attributing the low turnout of women to safety concerns. “An audience that is 97% male in my #yearend concert in the heartland shows that we still have a long way to go #India. Women need to feel safe to even leave their homes to attend this in 2021, that’s the truth. I sing with hope, I sing for a fair, love-filled world. #HappyNewYear.”

A Twitter user questioned her post and wrote, “A woman singing among 97% men and still says women need to feel safe? Yes, India still has a long way to go!” Sona criticised the person for ‘male privilege and stupidity’, stating, “I’m privileged, on stage with a team, a star, have security, police and the mindset of a lioness and a support system now that lets me fly. Shocking how many a**holes, soaked in their male privilege and stupidity do not understand such a simple truth about women’s safety in public.”

Here’s wishing Sona a very happy birthday. May her year be filled with success, happiness and hits.

Saumik Satpathy

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