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'Shut Up Sona' to travel to Göteborg and Rotterdam

by Uma da Cunha


Shortly after its world premiere at MAMI film festival 2019, 'Shut Up Sona' is slated to have its International Premiere at the International Film Festival of Rotterdam, it will also screen at the Göteborg Film Festival this year. 


Sona Mohapatra in a still from the film


Frequently denounced for her feisty and candid personality, Sona Mohapatra is an Indian artist who has actively been engaged in issues beyond music. Deepti Gupta breezed her way into the directing realm with a fly-on-the-wall documentary about the artist. The two have been acquainted for over a decade and Gupta has directed a few music videos for the singer-songwriter’s tunes. The film was shot over a span of three years. 

“I feel Sona’s journey, both as a singer and as a voice of protest has been one of the most inspiring stories in India. Through her story, the film explores the importance of protest. Sona’s story is a  universal one, where women who demand equality always pay a heavy price for it, very often at the cost of what they love-their work, their art and their very existence”, says Gupta.


As one of the founder members of IWCC (Indian Women Cinematographers Collective), Gupta is among the growing number of female cinematographers working in the industry in India with credits including Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd and Fakir of Venice to her name. She started as the sole female student in the cinematography course at FTII and continues to fight the battle of inequality in a male-dominated sector of show business with the same vigour and energy. In Sona's story of defiance and struggle, she finds traces of her own. 

While talking about the shooting process she said, “As a cinematographer and director, I have expressed in the language of cinema, visually and in montage, what Sona does in the aural realm. The style of filming flows between the subjective, intimate, and objective, to watch her politics play out. The effort was to imbue the montage with an energy that drives the stream of conscious fluidity. The sound design (Niraj Gera) explores Sona’s inner space-alone in her everyday battles, and also the magnitude of a performer on stage. The music (Ram Sampath, Sona) includes her latest tracks and also a few traditional poetic compositions juxtaposing the story of the protagonist with her land.”


Through Sona, the film tells a universal story of what a woman stands up against to make a niche for herself. It holds a mirror to the society but the reflection is far from flattering-casual sexism and everyday patriarchy are embedded in everyday life by both men and women alike. In a country deeply uncomfortable with a woman’s emancipation, Sona’s unrelenting fight and her rebellious existence against the habitual erasure of women’s contributions is a story worth sharing. 

“The selection at Rotterdam and Göteborg has affirmed my belief, that while I wanted to explore the theme of gender through the specificity of Sona and India, the narrative is universal. We are proud to take ‘Shut Up Sona’ to Rotterdam for an International Premiere where we are invited to represent India not only with our film but also with Sona’s performance in their closing ceremony. This journey could not have been more beautifully validated."