Published On: Wed, Jun 1st, 2016

Lata Mangeshkar a ‘so-called’ singer, says New York Times



NEW DELHI: Comedian Tanmay Bhat might have just found company from the other side of the globe. American newspaper The New York Times seemed to insert itself into the eye of an already-raging controversy. In a report it carried on the row over Bhat’s Snapchat video , nytgoofed – it described Lata Mangeshkar as a ‘so-called playback singer’.

This is the latest in a string of portrayals of India or Indians by The New York Times that has found itself rubbing people the wrong way on the other side of the globe.

The NYT article focused less on the controversy itself and more on requests from the Mumbai Police to delete the video from Facebook and YouTube.

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In describing Bhat’s controversial video, NYT said, “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.”

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NYT has faced flak before for its portrayal of India. It had unleashed a row in 2014 with a cartoon that accompanied an article titled ‘India’s Budget Mission to Mars’ . The cartoon showed a turbaned Indian with a cow knocking on the doors of a room labled ‘Elite Space Club’. Not long after it faced online wrath over the cartoon, NYT back down, saying, “We apologize to readers who were offended by the choice of images in this cartoon,” and added that the cartoonist “was in no way trying to impugn India, its government or its citizens”.


(NYT Mars Mission cartoon courtesy Reddit)

India’s Mars Mission is the least expensive mission to the Red Planet yet, and was also the first time that a space agency succeeded in reaching Mars in the very first attempt.

 NYT courted controversy yet again, ahead of the Paris climate conference in December 2015. This time, it published a cartoon that portrayed India as an elephant sitting on rail tracks, blocking a train labelled ‘Paris Climate Summit’ . Ironically, the train portrayed was a coal-burning steam engine.
(NYT Paris cartoon courtesy Imgur)

India had taken a strong stand at the Paris climate talks, insisting that developed countries that emit significantly more carbon into the atmosphere make deeper emission cuts than poor countries that don’t pollute as much.

About the Author

Syed Ammar Alavi

- is Lahore (Pakistan) based journalist & writer with 25-year experience in print, wire and broadcast forms of journalism. His major fields of interest are politics, film,tv,sports, climate change and technology

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