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Singer Sona Mohapatra talks to Bhavi Gathani about her latest Bengali number Mon ke bojhai, the positive effect of the digital boom, her upcoming music app, songs and film 

Vocalist-stage performer Sona Mohapatra had recently lent her voice to a Bengali number Mon ke bojhai as part of the first season of Oriplast Originals, an online music show. Talking about it, she says, “Oriplast Originals is a fantastic platform. Right now we are going through a very interesting phase. I think music has no language in any case but one of my biggest hits Rangabati is being put as the biggest song of the Coke Studio India Edition. It’s in Sambalpuri language, which hardly anybody would have understood, but whether I go to Kerala or I go to Chandigarh, I am definitely forced to sing Rangabati. People just love that song and they like to dance to it.”

Giving us some details about her latest Bengali number, she says, “Mon ke bojhai is a happy song created by a young and upcoming composer, Gaurav Chatterji. Singer Roshni Saha has written the song, she also features in the video. Mon ke bojhai is about a woman who is ready to get married and she is very excited. She can’t wait to be united with her beloved. It has a traditional setting.”

Mohapatra is someone who doesn’t like to be known as a singer alone. “I don’t think I am a kind of person who just likes to think of herself as a singer. I think I am a storyteller. I like to connect the dots of history, different places and cultures, and these elements come into my performance on stage.” She adds, “For me, Mon ke bojhai was very exciting because I have always been a champion of folk music.”

The singer-performer also opens up about her thoughts on recreations and why she hasn’t yet done any. “It’s not that I don’t want to get into recreations. I am just saying, somewhere out of 20 songs in the top charts, 16 of them are remixes. Making a remix once in a while is one thing, but to have 80 per cent of the music coming out as remixes is very sad. Then there is somebody like Sanjay Leela Bhansali who still makes a soundtrack full of original songs, songs that take a narrative forward. He shoots with so much love and grandeur and glory.”

Speaking about the positive side of the digital medium, she says, “It is very exciting that so many young music composers and singers are not dependent on Bollywood any longer and are instead getting a break from the digital sphere. They are creating their own music, they have their own YouTube channel and they have their own fan base. I think that’s a very healthy thing. Maybe it is all working for the best.”

Mohapatra believes that the youngsters today are not unknown to songs from the ‘60s and ‘70s. Sharing one of her experiences, she says, “When I go to colleges and I start singing Aaj jaane ki zid na karo or Abhi na jao chhod kar, everybody sings together. You think 18-year-olds may not know a black and white era song but they do. There is so much power in a strong melody. There is a song of mine called Bolo na, which was my first release as an artiste. I just released it again on my YouTube channel in a dance format. There was so much of love that came my way for that song.”

Sharing her opinion on how we have lost touch with our musical roots, she says, “I do meet a lot of youngsters especially in our metros, they think that anything angrezi is cool while anything Indian is low standard. I think we are lacking in self-esteem if we don’t take pride in what our roots are. The tabla as an instrument is dying now. When I came to know last year that there used to be 25 tabla makers in Mumbai but now there are only two left, I was shocked. People don’t want their kids to learn tabla, they’d rather make them learn drums or an electric guitar.”

The singer seems to be in a happy space right now. “I wake up every day with a lot of excitement with 10 different ideas and I feel very lucky that I have a team of my own who are equally excited for the work that we can do. We are travelling around the world and it’s like a family of our own. Right now I am on a journey of wanting to take charge of my narrative. I have been working on producing my own film since the last couple of years,” she says.

She also shares details about her upcoming music app. “This year I am launching a music app, Sonami. It is a play on the word tsunami, the storm that comes. We named the app by tweaking the spelling a bit so that it has my name in it. For me it is about getting into a much more edgy, urban space; it’s electronica. I will also be working on a visual element to the Sonami app, which will have rappers, hip-hop dancers and graphic artistes who will be creating art, so it will be a visual delight.”

“Apart from that, we have four or five music videos in the pipeline. We are focusing on putting out a brand new release every month till December. My film is almost ready too and we are right now getting into the post-production phase,” she signs off. 

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