Shut Up Sona

You get the sense that few people would dare to tell Indian singer and #MeToo activist Sona Mohapatra to shut up - to her face at least. Sona is a force of nature - a formidable, powerful and determined woman. 

 

However, at one point in Deepti Gupta’s entertaining and thought-provoking documentary a man tells Sona to “calm down”.

 

His words come after a media interview where Sona has declared that “I’m a woman who wants to be equal to a man!” It feels jarring - until we understand his concern is for her wellbeing. Sona’s words are putting her life at risk.

 

On social media and behind the scenes of India’s music industry, many (far too many) people are desperately trying to silence Sona’s calls for equality. She is condemned for being obscene, threatened with blasphemy lawsuits and she receives a frightening number of death threats.

 

Remarkably, Sona takes these challenges in her stride. 

 

 

Over three years, Gupta films Sona as she fights against her country’s patriarchal traditions. She doesn’t want to simply entertain the crowds that attend her concerts, she wants to rebel, expose hypocrisy and effect change.

 

Shut Up Sona combines Sona's rise as a talented singer, songwriter, and composer (fusing pop, folk, Bollywood and rock) with more intimate scenes. We see Sona at home with her husband - often debating the challenges of Indian society - and in quiet moments of contemplation.

 

On stage and off, Sona is incredibly charismatic. She never misses an opportunity to further her cause and she is more than ready for any debate. Her passion is not to be underestimated.

 

However, this is a tough battle and Sona often seems alone in her fight, despite representing the rights of all female musicians in India. For inspiration, Sona embarks upon a journey through the country's past. By visiting a series of religious sites, Sona discovers how women have been suppressed. 

 

 

While traditional texts, poems and songs often portray women as subservient, devoted to a man, we discover that you need only scratch just beneath the surface to find a far different, more empowering story - a story that Sona is more than ready to tell.

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Jane Douglas-Jones
Jane Douglas-Jones

E: jane@500daysoffilm.com


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