Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jul 12:
‘Rangabati’ is arguably the most famous song to have come out of Odisha ever, which has understandably received a cult status in the four decades since it was released.
‘Bande Utkal Janani’, on the other hand, is the government approved state anthem.
A massive controversy has erupted after both songs were mixed and performed at MTV Coke Studio by Odia singers Rituraj Mohanty and Sona Mohapatra. While the original lyricist and composer have slapped a legal notice on the producers seeking Rs 1 crore in damages, the matter has also reached the police as two FIRs have been lodged against both.
Our representative Subrat Kumar Samal met Rituraj Mohanty of India’s Raw Star fame while he was in Cuttack on a shooting assignment.
Q: The people of Odisha made a national icon of you. How could you do such a thing to hurt their self-esteem?
A: As an Odia, it is my responsibility to take Odisha to the international stage. I have done nothing to hurt the self-esteem of Odias.
Q: If that is the case, why do think the controversy erupted on ‘Bande Utkal Janani’ and the matter was taken to the police?
A: Look, over 95 percent of the listeners have admired the music. Not only in Odisha, we have received compliments from Odisha societies across India and even USA. The five percent that are opposing the song don’t really understand music. A FIR has been lodged. I will accept whatever the law decides.
Q: You are just getting started in the Odia industry and there is this controversy. What would you say?
A: There is a wide variety of audience for music. As a singer, I can’t analyze who is going to take which song in what way. Moreover, the intention of both me and Sona Mohapatra in doing this song was honest. It was out first attempt to take music of Odisha to the world stage. We are taking the opposition to the song in a constructive way. If two people curse us while a thousand cheer, we are not worried about that.
Q: What would you want to say to those who are opposing it?
A: The audience is god for an artist. One should not take criticism with negativity. However, I think they might have a problem understanding the music. Artists from other states are doing so much to take their local music to the world stage. It hurts to see opposition at the very first attempt itself.
Q: Does it mean you would like to bring recognition by disrespecting Odia music and singing distorted versions of it?
A: Neither Rangabati nor Bande Utkala Janani has been disrespected. We have only made changes in the singing style. If we consider this ugly, then possibly Odia music would never gain international recognition.
Q: You have been opposed from the very beginning. An FIR has been filed against you. Would that stop you or would you continue to experiment?
A: Never. The continued support of Odias has brought me the recognition as a leading singer. So, I owe it them to make Odia music popular.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: There are many plans pertaining to both Odia and Hindi songs. I would only be able to achieve that with the blessings of the Lord and support of my listeners.