Singer, lyricist and composer Sona Mohapatra is known for her bold statements and Twitter controversies, and she never shies away from putting her heart and mind out in open. Despite being a wonderful singer and composer she has always been in news for her statements and not for the music that she makes, the work she does, or the initiative she takes. Many times, she has been misinterpreted for her unabashed comments and has stirred into controversies.

Sona Mohapatra
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In an exclusive conversation with International Business Times, India, Sona Mohapatra spoke about everything under the sun - from creating acoustic music to why remixes are ruing creativity and why she is only known for her political views rather than her singing and what we as a generation need.

Excerpts from the interview.

On making music digitally during the lockdown

I have started 3 new projects with my band and Ram Sampath during the lockdown.  We are making original content. I have often been told that I only work with Ram because he is my husband but that isn't the case. We are working together after four years and we are creatively very pally. I don't understand if there are two brothers working together but no one says anything but if a woman works with her husband, people start making assumptions that she is dependent on him and so on.

Continues saying:

So I have started digital music concert with Guitar wale Gaane and it features some ofmy favourite guitar players. He plays from Kolkatta and I sing from Mumbai and we uploaded on our social media handle. And trust me, there is no label attached, no commercials and no digital promotional and still, music lovers have come out and supported us big time. I am technologically crippled so is my friend and guitarist so we don't edit the music or lyrics and just play along the way it is. The music is acoustic without use of any technological tool. We use Do Taara which is a Bengali folk instrument, and has only two strings, the music resonates so much that it will make your heart sink.

 On her documentary being released on OTT

With the world locked down & in anxious times, music, storytelling, cinema & art play an even more important role in helping us get back on our feet as a society. I am grateful that SHUT UP SONA will find an entirely new audience in another part of the world. I couldn't have imagined that our film would be selected in these top festivals of the world when we were making it. That it is a universal story that is finding resonance across the globe and validates my journey as an artist who has never felt restricted to being just a singer. I carry my country, its art, its present & its history within me. In telling my story, I hope to connect the disparate dots within my culture to build a narrative that portrays a more nuanced view of the hopes & aspirations of India.

On why there is a dearth of independent music

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a long long day. #lockdown #Mumbai

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India is a music-loving country. I have sung so many folk songs and rustic music at concerts. Songs like Chidiya, Mujhe Kya Bechega Rupiya and many more have been loved by people. Those were sung live after the episode of Satyamev Jayate on TV. People love those songs. Like, the Coke Studio singers have more views than any commercial Bollywood singers.

On why there aren't many female singers

When I started my career, there were hardly any female singers and we saw a decline for women artist in general. Out of 100 songs that are solo, they would feature male artist and in if its duet they were given last three to four lines. Having independent music has lost its charm. Very few places you will see music being appreciated or female singer being given a platform. It happens only in the west where music is concerned and given its due importance.

 Her take on remixes

How will you add personality to remixed songs? I feel the music industry is at its worst phase. There is a dearth of regional and independent music. The engagement is lacking. Everything is so commercial, quick buck, push of creativity, it's like telling a generation aap log jake mar jaao, aap jaake aur koi kaam karo, we don't need a new songwriter, lyrics. We will make it the cheapest way possible. And tell the singers, Tune nai banaya na, tujhe do rupiye denge. It's complete mercenary objective. The people who say it's for the young generation to understand the music of yesteryears, I think this is rubbish, this pointless saturated music. The audience deserves better. Its high time the audience stands up and says we deserve better music. The soundtrack of their time like the 70's music that our parents were associated with was so beautiful and meaningful. I remember I had sung Chura Liya Hai Tumne at a concert which was an ode to Late RD Burman on his death anniversary. That was a cover, it's okay if you sing a cover or pay ode to the legend but making it commercial and selling it is very different. These shortcuts are dangerous and this shows we don't care about creativity, and if you don't care for creativity, you will end up being a thief. We should be self-reliant.

 On having a voice as a generation and as an industry

Look at the west, they have given so much importance and space to music as an industry. Here in India, we hardly have given any due respect to art or culture, even media doesn't showcase any other music apart from Bollywood songs. India's population is 1.3 billion and only one kind of music is being heard and played that is film music, we have genres, folk music, ghazal, regional music, and it deserves a platform. My niece listens to western music and Punjabi music, not that Punjabi music is creative - every other song is the same but they have a personality, the music of west has a personality.

If we have our generation of pop stars we don't have to listen to Beyonce. There are no aspirational values left. Every country deserves a pop star. Every generation should resonate to music like our parents had old music and charm. I wish our generation to have a voice. 

 On being known for her political views

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Wearing a wild animal print is one thing, wiping out 60 % of all wildlife in the last 40 years, billions of other living beings who had every right to share our planet with us.. is what the ‘human race’ has achieved to do. We have been greedy & how. More so the richer developed nations of the world & we are all running to catch up with their crazy consumerist societies. Looking westwards for all our inspiration, so to say. China in turn has a thriving 70 billion USD industry that employs 1 million people in the illegal trade & consumption of wild animals. Peacocks, bats , bears, armadillos, snakes & all other exotic species are eaten. Apparently the belief is that you take up the virtues or strengths of the animals you consume in their culture. The virus creating this current pandemic has said to have originated from this practice of eating wild animals. All major causes of panic, swine flu, SARS, birds flu etc originated similarly? While one of the significant causes of green house gas emissions leading to dramatic climate change come from the cattle culling & beef eating.. The point I’m making is over the top consumption, cruelty to other creatures are some of the significant causes for the current crisis at hand. Be it’s corona or climate change, there is a link & that link is our greed & cruelty as a species. We all need to slow down, me included & revaluate our day to day choices. I just read that this pandemic has caused pollution levels to come down by 30 % already? To start with factories aren’t bellowing smoke & pollutants into the water bodies & constant air travel isn’t messing up the skies.. the ? is sighing in relief & I can hear her. This Europeon stock market sinking news & recession fears.. might all be real but really, is that comparable to the collective fear that we all put into a creature, a deer, a tiger & into hundred others before we annihilated them for our greed? #thoughts #today #sonamohapatra #corona #covid_19 #savetheplanet #beforeitstoolate #ImWearing a dress & earrings from the @theflamestore

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I live in a democratic country and have certain views and like to be informed about the latest happenings about our country, but that doesn't mean I am actively part of politics I share my viewpoint and would like to have debate over it, but sadly all these things are written more than music. Writing about politics is merely 10 per cent of what I do, the rest 90 per cent constitutes my music. I am a very introvert person, I am not social at all. When I am at a concert, I will sing in front of 1000's of the crowd but that's it, in real life I am a home bird.

Apart from music what is she doing!

During this lockdown, I am putting up so many videos of my work and suddenly it makes me wonder if I am a teenager. I am cooking, cleaning, doing everything and at times I wonder,'' why do I have such a big house'. Having said that I am grateful to God and privileged for giving me everything. The quarantine time has taught me a lot. It has made me patient and self-reliant. When I introspect, I see the society is healing, the nature is healing and we are healing. Going by history, it shows that human beings don't learn from their mistakes. It's a lot of time for introspection of an individual and creative renewal. It looks like life revolves around politics. Its either his side or that side, it doesn't even play 2 per cent of what we are actually going through. Hopefully, we will be a little kinder and empathic towards the end of it.