'New York Times' explains the 'so-called' it used in Lata Mangeshkar-Tanmay Bhat story


Jun,02 2016 10:23:01 IST

The New York Times on Wednesday clarified its use of the phrase “so-called playback singer” in a piece about the Tanmay Bhat Snapchat joke mimicking Lata Mangeshkar and Sachin Tendulkar.

NYT, which faced a huge backlash from fans of Mageshkar, who felt that the phrase was insulting to someone of her status, said that the “so-called” was used to describe/qualify the term “playback singer” — not Lata. The editorial team of NYT further added that its usage had been misconstrued.

Lata Mangeshkar. Image from News18

Lata Mangeshkar. Image from News18

A description of the joke video in the NYT report read: "In the expletive-laced video, which was created on Snapchat, Mr Bhat uses that app's face-swap feature to impersonate Sachin Tendulkar, a hugely popular cricketer who retired in 2013, and Lata Mangeshkar, a so-called playback singer for Bollywood films whose career dates to the 1940s. Playback singers record vocals for song-and-dance numbers, to which actors and actresses lip sync."

The "so-called playback singer" phrase didn't go down too well with some people, who took it as an insult to Lata, 86, who started her career in 1943 at the age of 13 and is widely regarded as India’s “nightingale”. They took to Twitter to express their criticism of NYT.

In reaction to the trolling, Ellen Barry, the South Asia bureau chief for NYT, explained in a tweet: "A note on 'so-called': Used here for non-Indian readers unfamiliar with the term 'playback singer'. In no way a commentary."

Barry also called out certain media outlets in India for misrepresenting the NYT piece:

The article's co-writer Suhasini Raj also clarified the usage, quoting from the dictionary: "'So-called: used to introduce a new word or phrase that is not yet known by many people'."

New York-based Indian writer Aseem Chhabra, on his part, tweeted:

Updated Date: Jun 02, 2016 10:23 AM