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Mainstream musicians are considered second-class citizens, says Sona Mohapatra

Mohapatra is the latest music artiste to speak up against the monopolistic nature of the business.

Our Correspondent

Sonu Nigam’s tirade against the monopolistic music industry has started a discussion about the rights of singers and other music professionals. In the past few days, artistes like Adnan Sami, Alicha Chinai and Salim Merchant have come out in support of Nigam.

Now, we can add Sona Mohapatra’s name in the list. The singer has shared her take on the issue in a detailed manner in an official statement. Mohapatra believes the primary problem is that the music industry in the country has no independent status of its own.

“The fact that we don’t have a real music industry in a country as big as India should bother all of us," she said in her statement. "It’s a mere subset of the film industry with a few interconnected families calling the shots. There is more than enough talent, music and more than enough love for music for us to have built a thriving independent music industry after so many years of independence.”

Mohapatra believes that another reason why this is ironical is that music is used everywhere in the country. “Music sells almost everything in this country, including election campaigns, toothpaste, sporting events and big-budget films, but is sadly the most undermined commodity in the media landscape,” she added.

Coming to the lack of respect for musicians, Mohapatra said, “Mainstream musicians are second-class citizens in 'Bollywood' and go through a miserable and humiliating ‘rejection’ and ‘ragging’ process while making a soundtrack.”

She added, “The creator of a song doesn’t even have the right to cast a singer and that itself is so disrespectful to the process of creativity. It is the reason why so many people are dubbed for ‘scratches’. My belief is that ultimately the song suffers. It is akin to it being ‘flogged’ in a sense.”

While Mohapatra believes it is critical to have a discussion about the music companies’ monopolies and the lopsided clique-driven power structure in the film industry, she feels it is equally time for everyone to reflect. “This includes the media, which has no space for music or concert reviews or slots that showcase new talent. Award shows continue to give lip-synch acts by actors precedence over actual musical performances,” she said. 

Mohapatra believes changing this should not be the responsibility of artistes or the media alone. “It is important that even audiences start rejecting mediocrity and aspire for world-class standards in entertainment which come from being more demanding of authenticity and integrity from our entertainers,” she said.

The whole debate began when Nigam warned in the aftermath of Sushant Singh Rajput’s suicide that one shouldn’t be surprised if people from the music industry also end their lives. He specifically targeted music companies and termed them a ‘mafia’.