(Caption: Screengrab of Shubha Mudgal official blog)
By Ankush Arora
Few days before World Music Day, private radio station Radio Mirchi cancelled Indian vocalist Shubha Mudgal’s concert, citing “unforeseen circumstances”. The Delhi-based artist was to perform at the Sophia College campus in Mumbai today, in what was planned as a World Music Day special.
“What a sad World Music Day it is when both artistes and music lovers are treated so shoddily by event organisers,” she blogged on June 19.
As expected, her fans tweeted their anger against “the media”, some even punning on “achche din” – Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s hugely popular tagline.
@Bawli_Booch Radio Mirchi cancels Shubha Mudgal’s World Music Day show. You don’t have to be a Sherlock to guess why.
@deepakurup #kachcheDin are here?More power to Shubha,her lovely music and her politics l RadioMirchi cancels ShubhaMudgal’s show
#radiomirchi cancels Shubha Mudgal concert and loses me permanently as a listener. Do you support their action?
@culdivsac Our fearless corporate-controlled media! Radio Mirchi cancels avowedly liberal and secular Shubha Mudgal’s show
@KanakManiDixit Shubha Mudgal show cancellation by Radio Mirchi – which way the wind blows for media in India.
Earlier this month, Mudgal said a “pro-Modi” founder of a California-based temple bullied her, ahead of a concert with Carnatic music vocalist Bombay Jayshri, the Times of India reported.
The man’s grouse? Mudgal is “anti-Modi” and “anti-Hindu” and he wanted her to apologise for an open letter that she, and several other film stars and artists, signed to appeal for the protection of the “country’s secular foundation”.
The letter was written during the recently-concluded Lok Sabha election, which fetched the Modi-led BJP a historic mandate to form the government.
But Mugdal has tweeted that the two incidents are not related to each other: “I believe cancellation of Radio Mirchi concert completely unrelated to US incident. No reason to link the two.”
Radio Mirchi, previously Times FM, is run by Entertainment Network (India) Limited (ENIL), a wholly owned subsidiary of The Times of India Group.
Aneesh Pradhan, well-known tabla player and her husband, told me “Shubha’s political stand has nothing to do with it (cancellation)”.
“MANN KE MANJEERE”
There will be no end to speculation over why this concert was cancelled, but no one’s stopping fans from celebrating her music through “Mann Ke Manjeere” or rhythms of mind.
On World Music Day, look up ‘Mann Ke Manjeere‘ (2000), a campaign-album initiative of human rights organisation ‘Breakthrough‘. The album of five songs was a tripartite endeavour of Mudgal, lyricist Prasoon Joshi and music composer Shantanu Moitra.
The titular song features actress Mita Vashisht as the victim of domestic violence, who walks out of an abusive marriage and drives a truck for a living.
The credit for the powerful imagery goes to production house Red Ice Films, which was co-founded by filmmaker Shoojit Sircar.
The theme is universal, ever-relevant for India as it witnesses – like a mute, helpless spectator – the escalating violence against women and girls. The song celebrates self-empowerment that translates into a moment of renaissance for the victim, brilliantly executed by Mudgal’s powerful, reverberating voice; Moitra’s electrifying beats; and Joshi’s straightforward, yet poignant lyrics.
“Badal tak jhoole mere pahunchne lage,
Ankhon ke aage gagan simatne lage,
Daal daal ne, taal taal de, choo ke hawayen
Khet khet ne, ret ret ne, phailadi baahein…”
Happy World Music Day to one and all!
(Follow me on Twitter @Ankush_patrakar)