Mumbai: Sonu Nigam's Pakistan comment and the singer backing Anu Malik hasn't gone down well with fellow singer Sona Mohapatra. But Sonu says every issue "doesn't need quarrelling around it".
During a summit, Sonu talked about why so many songs are being remixed these days. "Sometimes, I feel like it would be better if I was from Pakistan. At least I would get offers from India," he joked.
He also said: "If you say, 'Anu Malik met me this morning', that's fine. You accused him without any proof; let's accept that too. Had he (Anu Malik) wanted to say anything, he could have said a lot. But he did not.
"If I say that you misbehaved with me, you will ask me for proof. But there's no proof, right? Despite that, people are respecting the accusers, who are tarnishing Anu Malik's name. But how can you ban him? How can you snatch his bread and butter? How can you torture his family?"
Following Sonu's comments, Sona, who had accused Anu of sexual misconduct, tweeted on Wednesday that she felt "so let down hearing him talk like this".
The wife of composer Ram Sampath also wrote: "So much sympathy for a millionaire losing work? So much empathy for his privileged family being 'tortured'? How about scores of girls and women he tortured? Multiple testimonies not proof enough?"
"Not 1 but possibly 100 plus women and men can attest to Anu Malik's deplorable abusive behaviour. I guess Mr. Sonu Nigam expects all these women/underage girls to - a)strap recording devices b) carry spy cams, other proof gathering devices because they have much to benefit defaming him?"
On Sonu's Pakistan comment, she said: "Are Arijit Singh, Badshah, Vishal Dadlani from Pakistan though?
"You've had your moment under the sun dear. India anoints a new 'Male Super Star' every 3/4/5 years without fail. Don't blame the Pakistani artistes. Also do not mix up art and music with politics and idealogy."
While "maintaining the decorum", Sonu responded to her tweets by saying: "The respectable lady vomiting on Twitter, is the wife of someone who I consider very close to me, so although she has forgotten the relationship, I'd like to maintain the decorum."
"Koi jaanvar hee hoga jo MeToo movement ko support nahi karta hoga
(Only someone who is an animal won't support #MeToo)."
Women with "frankness and courage, shaming their oppressors", is a refreshing sign of changing times, he pointed out.
"Women have been long oppressed throughout the course of history and it's high time to end this mindset of treating them like properties or trophies, and now they walk hand-in-hand and shoulder-to-shoulder with men," Sonu said in a statement to IANS.
He also asked: "it's okay to accuse someone, but to punish someone? How is that right? Isn't it the job of the law to punish?" (So aarop lagana sahi hai...par saza dena? Ye kaise sahi hua? Saza dena toh kanoon ka kaam haina?)
He also spoke about lynching.
"Agar public ka saza dena theek hai, toh phir garib, maasoom insano ka, ek pagal bheed ke dwara gau maas hone ke shak mai ya chori, rape ya bacche churane ke shak mai, peet-peet kar mar dalna bhi sahi hai?"
"Isn't it a fact that while 99% of the #MeToo movement has been dignified, a small percentage is indulging in media lynching without letting law take its course, especially when all of us in the society have supported the movement?" he asked, talking about the movement which is against sexual harassment and assault.
"Every issue doesn't need quarrelling around it forever. Look at the positive side. Men, henceforth, have learnt to 'behave' with women. Some strong women's sacrifice has done the magic. And that paves the way for a peaceful and safe work environment in the present and for the future. After the shaming and exposing, we should let the law take its course."
He continued: "On one hand, there is an accuser, on the other there is a witness and in the middle there is a person who gives the punishment. And on the other side, the accused. If only you are the accuser, witness and person who gives out the punishment, then you should also get the punishment."
(Ek taraf hota hai aarop lagane wala, aur ek hota hai gawah, aur beech mai hota hai saza dene wala. Aur dusri taraf hota hai aaropi. Agar aap hee aarop lagane wale hai, aap hee gawah hai, aap hee saza dene wale hai, toh phir saza paane wale bhi aap hee hone chahiye.)
"Long live women empowerment."
Addressing to Sona again, he said: "And respected lady, as far as my jibe about better off being born in Pakistan is concerned, go see the interview properly, and make sure I was talking for the entire fraternity, including the singers from abroad, and not myself.
"And would not like to say anything about the names you have mentioned to compare me with, but all I can say is that I chose to stand my ground and be a part of the collective movement to implement the Constitutional Amendment, that your husband too has been a part of, with us. And you have been a witness to it all.
"So, choose your words with some conscience. And as for me, having had my moment, well thank you for the love. I'm very grateful to God for it," he concluded.
Earlier on Wednesday, he had also said that he has immense respect for artistes from all over the globe, including Pakistani singers.
"I have always been of the opinion that everyone should be welcomed in India. I'm very friendly with Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Atif Aslam. Shafqat Amanat Ali has a lovely voice and I'm of this belief that everyone must get equal respect in our country, but in the same breath, I'd like to add that Indian artistes should be given the same facilities as their foreign counterparts. If that doesn't happen, then it's unfair," Sonu said in a statement to IANS.
"In recent years, the music business has evolved and most artistes belong to a certain music company. The company earns by charging a percentage from its artistes' remuneration which is a great business strategy and is working well for all concerned. My only point was that this same percentage rule should apply to foreign artistes as well, only for the sake of equality and transparency of all artistes from all over the world in our country," he added.