A face that can launch a hundred brands and voice that could send you soaring in ecstasy, Sona Mohapatra is easily one of the most versatile and talented singers cum performers that Bollywood has today. Known for her electric style, Sona was in her hometown to perform for a concert when My City Links caught up with her. Excerpts from an interview.
How does it feel coming back to your place and performing here?
Well, it feels wonderful to be back in Odisha. Although I have mostly lived outside of Odisha, I love my state very much and am as aware and proud to be an Odia as anybody else. This is the first time I am performing here and I am very excited about the fact. The feeling of performing in Bhubaneswar is driving me crazy.
What is your take on the ‘Rangabati’ controversy?
I think controversy is actually made by a very few people. I don’t think I have done anything wrong with the Rangabati song, so why should I be guilty? As an artist I feel that you should reinvent your root’s music before it becomes too old and lost. Therefore, I have always tried to blend Odia music in a way that is popular today and will continue to be so in future, and also make my language known all across wherever I can.
What was Jitendra Haripal’s view about your version of Rangabati?
Before the launch of my version of Rangabati, many people were unaware of Jitendra Haripal, who is the original singer of the legendary song Rangabati. Even if there have been protests against me and my team for making the new version of Rangabati, I feel it’s my way to express music. And, I have his blessing with me. I was in Italy when we had a conversation regarding a documentary that was made on the Rangabati song recently. I was really touched by his love with which he invited me for the documentary launch. He also encouraged me by saying that our generation of singers should experiment with new music and try to do something different.
How was your experience having worked with Aamir Khan in Satyamev Jayate?
It was a wonderful experience working with Aamir Khan because when you work with people with similar thoughts and beliefs, you create something that lasts for a lifetime. Besides singing songs in Satyamev Jayate, I also worked as the executive producer for the show. I will always cherish the memories that I earned during the show. Partnership with Aamir was one of the turning points of my life and the show has taught me how to control my emotions.
You have sung impactful songs like ‘Mujhe Kya Bechega Rupaiyaa’ and ‘Bekhauff’. What do you have to say about violence against women?
I think I was born to sing the kind of songs like on Satyamev Jayate. I have always stood up for women rights in the society. I can tell you my experience. When I was studying engineering in CET, Bhubaneswar, girls were not allowed to wear jeans, because people thought it was indecent. We were not allowed to go out after 6 o’ clock and locked inside the hostel. Women were discriminated, treated as inferior in those days. But as of now, the orthodox thinking has changed a lot and women are given more priority. I have been married since years, but I have retained my surname as Mohapatra because I feel women are at par as men in the society.
You have been a known face in Bollywood with a considerable number of hits to your name now. Why haven’t you debuted in Ollywood?
Honestly, I have not been approached by anyone from the Odia industry. I think they still don’t recognize me. Many non-Odia singers like Sonu Nigam, Udit Narayan And Sunidhi Chauhan have been approached for singing Odia songs. I think as I am an Odia, these people in the industry have taken me for granted. I have been questioned and blamed for issues at times by the people here. But I don’t think I have to prove to anyone that I am an Odia. Whenever I get a chance to say good about Odisha and its people, I have always been proud to do so. But no one has celebrated me and given me a chance or an invitation to come here to perform till today in Ollywood. If they ever approach me and I find the song right for me, I will surely do it.
With both engineering and MBA degrees, how did you end up becoming a singer?
Yes, initially it was very difficult for me to quit my well established corporate career to become a singer. But that was my dream and today I am living it. I never wanted to become a playback singer. I wanted to be an artist who could express her own music.
Do you have any plans to sing any Odia songs in the future?
Yes, of course I have some sort of plans to sing Odia songs in the coming days. I am currently researching on the songs of Fakir Mohanty and Bhikari Bal. I feel very proud to rework on their creations and want to do something very original with them and spread their music all over the country.