Late last month, Anupama Chopra asked India’s leading stand-up comedians about sexism in the industry, and the ensuing scene was all kinds of gross.
Now, in a video posted yesterday by Film Companion, Anupama Chopra sat down with playback singers Neeti Mohan, Jonita Gandhi, Aditi Singh Sharma and Neha Bhasin, and asked them straight up about the gender politics in the field that allow for a singer like Arijit Singh to be a household name, while female singers don’t reach that level of stardom and popularity.
Her question was greeted with a heartfelt “thank you so much” from Neha Bhasin, and the kind of responses that make it clear that this is something the leading women in the business have been thinking about a lot.
Neeti Mohan immediately says it’s because they don’t have that many female songs. Aditi Singh Sharma points out that if an album has seven songs, 90 percent of the time, five of the songs will be male, while two would be female, or one would be a female song and the other a duet. Neeti Mohan hilariously interjects, the duet will have two “female lines” [in a high-pitched voice], leaving the artist wondering how on earth that becomes a duet.
Neha Bhasin also says that the situation would begin to improve when female actors start demanding full songs in their films, because these movies are their movies too, and they’re making the films run. She says she feels like male actors are just leading the way, and female actors doing item songs. Jonita Gandhi talks about how frustrating it is when songs are composed without women in mind, which forces female singers to sing in keys that aren’t comfortable for them and that totally ignore their range.
It’s a really wonderful, thought-provoking exchange, and it’s quite exhilarating to see these women discussing the subject the way they do, which is by laughing at the absurdity of the situation and the people who perpetuate it, with total confidence in their own abilities and skill. While some part of me absently wonders how this scene would have gone down if there were any male singers in the room, probably because of what happened with the comedians, I’m so glad there weren’t, because then we wouldn’t have been able to see this gem: