Why Anupama Chopra's panel on gender politics in Indian music seems one-sided
When film critic Anupama Chopra had a discussion on sexism in the comedy industry previously, the panel consisted of just one woman comedian— Aditi Mittal and five male comedians.
The 1:5 ratio on the table turned the discussion into an ironical representation of discrimination against women in the stand-up scene.
Chopra probably took her cue from the reactions of people who were perturbed about the composition of the previous panel.
So, for her next discussion, she invited four leading singers from the Indian music industry to discuss the gender politics that has allowed an Arijit Singh to happen, who is singing almost every song nowadays. The prevalent question was: why there is no female equivalent for him?
Neeti Mohan, Neha Bhasin, Aditi Singh Sharma and Jonita Gandhi, all sat together to expose some ridiculous truths and tactics used by the music industry.
We are not complaining about the panel anymore, but having a few male singers on the panel to discuss the issue that involves them as deeply as their counterparts, would have given the debate more dimension and perspective.
That's the thing about discussing issues like sexism, they need to be balanced enough to be taken seriously. Also with issues as pertinent as this, viewers and readers are quick to form opinions in seconds, which is why it is best to be as inclusive as possible, while inviting people.
As soon as the discussion starts, Bhasin thanks Anupama Chopra for discerning the absence of a female equivalent of an Arijit Singh in the industry. Mohan joins by adding that there are not enough female songs in films. Now, it is true that films generally have more male songs than female ones, but to pretend like Singh is a phenomena that sprung up overnight and became a singing sensation, is ignorant.
Singh was first seen in the singing reality show called Fame Gurukul in 2005. He was eliminated from the show and it was only in 2011 that Singh resurfaced in the limelight with his Bollywood music debut 'Phir Mohabbat' in Murder 2.
To discuss the gender politics that hinder women singers from achieving what they are capable of is completely fair, but to associate it with a male singer is being short-sighted about it.
We need to acknowledge how the entertainment industry often functions in phases. In the late 90s and early 2000s, singer Alka Yagnik usually graced the cover of almost every film album. Having sung over 2,400 songs, Yagnik's career has spanned over 3 decades. She is still seen judging reality shows and dropping hits every now and then (remember Tum Saath Ho?).
It was strange how a Yagnik, a Sunidhi Chauhan or a Shreya Ghoshal were not brought up in the discussion.
However, the panel did dish out some unbelievable truths about the music community. Mohan claimed that sometimes they just have two lines in a duet and Gandhi quickly added that usually they are required to sing those two lines in an uncomfortable pitch.
Her statement instantly brings back memories of singer Suzanne D'Mello belting out her notes in the highest pitch possible in the 2009 song 'Surili Akhiyon Wale' opposite Rahat Fateh Ali Khan unintelligibly. The fact remains that this industry does not know how to use and manage talent.
Bhasin quickly added that the day actresses start standing up for themselves is the day when women singers will have full songs to them. Therefore, it all comes down to what we already know, women standing up for women is the first and foremost step towards gender equality.
Watch the video here: