New Delhi: A report by The New York Times which mentions Indian icon Lata Mangeshkar as a “so-called playback singer”, has garnered the ire of Twitter users, who perhaps misconstrued the meaning of “so-called”.
The newspaper’s report is on Indian comedian Tanmay Bhat’s controversial Snapchat video, in which he has used the app’s face-swap feature to liberally ridiculed Lata and Sachin Tendulkar. After the video went viral on the social media and other channels, it triggered widespread outrage.
A description of the video in The New York Times report reads: “In the expletive-laced video, which was created on Snapchat, Mr. Bhat uses that app’s face-swap feature to impersonate Sachin Tendulkar, a hugely popular cricketer who retired in 2013, and Lata Mangeshkar, a so-called playback singer for Bollywood films whose career dates to the 1940s. Playback singers record vocals for song-and-dance numbers, to which actors and actresses lip sync.”
Despite the explanation, the “so-called playback singer” phrase didn’t go down too well with some people, who took to Twitter to slam the newspaper as they took it as an insult to the 86-year-old, who started her career in 1943 at the age of 13 and has been regaling music lovers with her mellifluous voice over the decades.
In reaction to the trolling, Ellen Barry, South Asia bureau chief for The New York Times, explained in a tweet: “A note on ‘so-called’: Used here for non-Indian readers unfamiliar with the term ‘playback singer’. In no way a commentary.”
Even the article’s co-writer Suhasini Raj clarified quoting the dictionary: “‘So-called: used to introduce a new word or phrase that is not yet known by many people’.”
New York-based Indian writer Aseem Chhabra, on his part, explained to the trollers: “Amazing some folks are upset @nytimes. Idea of ‘playback singer’ is unique to India. Hence the ‘so-called’ expression about @mangeshkarlata!”