Singer, music composer and lyricist Sona Mohapatra has come heavily down on the organizers of Mood Indigo- IIT Bombay’s inter-collegiate festival- through an open letter on her Facebook page on Friday, accusing them of being “sexist”.
Mood-I, considered to be “Asia’s ‘biggest’ cultural fiesta”, has been allegedly showcasing only men as their headliners on their stage, the letter states. Mohapatra adds, that over successive years the premier institute, which she says is “a cess-pool of mediocrity instead”, has failed to be open to female artists as line-up performers, and the women artists to have performed, have had to do so only under the “umbrella” of a male performer.
Discrimination against them have further thickened with providing unequal remuneration to them as opposed to their male counterparts, she alleged.
She begins by saying “All the mathematical equations in the world will not be able to teach you the equation of fairness. All the ‘balancing’ of equations count for nothing if you do not seek a balanced world. All the formula in the world will not teach you the idea of making a true difference in the world and all the sponsorship, hype, marketing and branding of the world will not cover up the fact that you are a training ground for the worst kind of ‘boys clubs’ that create an imbalance in the world!”
Talking about the general attitude of the organizers, Mohapatra writes, “A SOLO FEMALE headliner? Want to be paid a price? Just not possible. The ‘men’ have homes to support, we women just ‘work’ for ‘fun’!”
She goes on to share her own experience with Mood-I. “For three years in a row,” she writes, “I’ve been getting calls from your Mood-I committee members for a concert in your festival but the invite always comes with a caveat. A BIG caveat. A non negotiable caveat. A ‘MAN’ needs to be clubbed in on the marquee to validate my stage, a paid stage in particular.”
Mohapatra states that Mood-I is not alone in not giving women performers an equal share of the stage: “Most college campuses in India, especially the premiere institutes of course follow suit and ‘copy-paste’ this disgusting blueprint of yours. Don’t believe me? Please do check out the archives of the line ups you have showcased year after year and start by scrolling down your own current FB festival page today… You have good company in festivals like NH7 and other big music festivals in such discriminatory practices, so take heart… So yes, your ‘boys clubs’ are quite a ‘brother-hood’ outside of the campuses too! Everyone passing out into the real world has been taught these lessons well in their colleges apparently.”
Although she was advised by her well-wishers to not write the open-letter, for the fear of coming across “as a trouble maker”, she still went ahead, not for any other reason but to bring about a shift in perspectives: “If this letter even changes 5 percent of the gender mix on stage in the coming days, I’ll consider my time well spent, although my gender actually constitutes close to 50 percent of the population.”
This, however, is not the first time when the problem of sexism has been associated with Mood-I. In 2013, Euphoria lead singer, Palash Sen was widely criticized for the derogatory statements toward women. “Are there good-looking girls in IIT-B?,” Sen had asked while on stage for his performance.
Read Sona Mohapatra’s entire open-letter below: