HER songs like 'Ambarsariya' (Fukrey) and 'Bedardi Raja' (Delhi Belly) are still trending on the Bollywood charts. A crowd-puller, be it on the stage or social media, Sona Mohapatra aspires to bridge the ancient with the contemporary through her music.
With her earthy and soulful voice, Sona will enthrall the audience in Bhubaneswar at a live concert titled 'Bhubanesariya' that would be hosted by The New Indian Express at Utkal Mandap on Sunday. Although this is not her first live performance in Odisha, 'Bhubanesariya' is special to the singer. "I will be debuting some new materials in this concert," she says.
So what can the audience expect from the concert? "My set list for Sunday's concert is split into 'Songs for the Soul' and 'Songs for the Feet'. So I will present some new songs in both formats. I endeavour to give my audience something new every time, while retaining the most popular parts of my repertoire," says Sona. Visit to Odisha, Sona says, has always been special. "It transports me to my childhood vacations spent in Sarankul with my amazing Ajja and Aaee. They were truly emancipated people, who saved my personality profoundly.
I have a long, wonderful family tree that connects me to this land and I have many wonderful memories connected to Tulsipur, Cuttack and other places. I also completed my BTech from Bhubaneswar and while this was a more challenging period, I do have interesting memories of this phase too. What I cherish the most is some very special people I met in this period and some friendships that last to this day. What I flaunt to my team every time I come back home is the artistry and art of the State that we take for granted ourselves while living here, as well as the incredible food of Odisha," says the singer, who is also a social media influencer. She refused to be bullied by online trolls when she criticised Salman Khan last year for his rape comment during the release of 'Sultan'.
Sona faced rape and death threats from supporters of the actor and in fact, this remains the most harrowing experience of online abuse any woman faced on social media in India till date. The singer admits that she sees herself more as an artist performer than a studio singer as the stage is where she finds her joy. "I also like to work with friends and collaborators, who are respectful of my strengths and do not expect me to change my style to suit some passing trend. All of these quirks of mine, make sure I do not sing anything I am uncomfortable with.
I am really open to singing all kinds of songs, especially in more interesting projects that have something authentic to say, but it has to be on my terms," says Sona, who feels that this is an interesting time for the Hindi music industry because it is inviting more diversity of talent than ever before. However, she feels now the industry is back in an era of remixes. "I hope the trend dies soon so we can come back to making fresh, original music that represents the times we live in," she says.
Sona says credit to the creators of music is very important as it retains the respect that one must accord to creation. She believes that true heroes are the writers, composers, lyricists and specifically those who believe in originality. "Original creations and creativity is hugely under-valued in Bollywood. There is money for success parties galore but none to pay for the creators of the music. The pay-outs are squeezed to such a limit that unless music directors start singing and performing in live-shows, they can hardly support their set-ups," she says.
Sona is currently busy with her forthcoming film, Laal Pari Mastani, which is written and directed by Deepti Gupta. "It is a story and a journey that's close to my heart and is a love letter to my country and its myriad intertwining cultural strains that make the rich tapestry that is India." Music composer and her partner at Omgrown Music, Ram Sampath is composing and producing the music for the film.