Nikita Sharma, creator of the rap number on pseudo feminism.
Snapshot
  • I am a feminist going by the dictionary definition of feminism but if we see what’s happening around us in the name of feminism, I really don’t want to tag myself with that word because it’s become so partisan and biased.

    Given the response [to the rap number], it’s clear how a woman had to eventually say this. That’s why everyone’s sharing it like crazy. Had this been a man, even men would have hesitated.

You may have watched her on a reality music show doing something that none has dared to do on an Indian television show so far — take on “pseudo-feminism”.

Nikita Sharma aka Star Nick, aged 25, has become an overnight sensation after the video of her rapping uncomfortable truths went viral on social media.

Viewers’ comments poured in, expressing their surprise and praise, probably awed by the fact that it was a woman who was calling out the privilege of and bullying by her own gender — mincing no words in slamming the double-speak on ‘equality’ or ‘feminism’ while playing the woman card at the first opportunity.

To get to know her views better, Deepika Narayan Bharadwaj interviewed Nikita Sharma. Swarajya presents edited excerpts of that interview.

Tell us about yourself.

I hail from Bhopal. The show, MTV Hustle, happened with a desire to bring laurels to central India. I have been a very notorious child all my life. The roots of my rap and singing belong to Sanskaar Valley School as the institution promotes extra-curricular activities a lot.

It is there where my interest in music began. I am from the generation which has seen those landline phones, each beep of which had a musical tone. I remember how I used to create songs over those beep sounds and sometimes fill glasses with water and turn them into Jaltarangs.

So interest in music began quite early. My father expired when I was in the 10th standard. I decided I would support my family and told my mother that I wanted to drop studies and start working.

She got really worried and put me into a boarding school in Nainitaal. That’s where I started penning songs. My first creation was about mental pressure that children bear because of expectations of everyone around them.

After school I tried my hand at acting. I have done short films. My first real breakthrough was my rap EX, which is about a couple that meets after their breakup. It gathered a lot of views online and gave me my first recognition. After that MTV Hustle happened.

What's your idea of feminism? Do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I don’t know who is a feminist really. For me the word equality matters the most.

I am a feminist going by the dictionary definition of feminism but if we see what’s happening around us in the name of feminism, I really don’t want to tag myself with that word because it’s become so partisan and biased.

I remember the lines I had written long ago – “Mujhe kisi se kandhe se kandha milkar nahi chalna hai, na hi mujhe kisi ladke se barabari karni hai, mujhe sirf apne khwabon ke pankh lagakar udna hai.

This is what I live by every day. There are many feminists who are real feminists even in their actions. But most feminists whine too much about male dominance.

They keep every man in the same category and project him as a wrong doer. I don’t buy that notion. Feminists say they’re about equality but their actions and notions are contradictory. They are concerned only about women, doesn’t matter what happens to anyone else for that sake.

So you think feminism, instead of equality, has become all about competing with men?

Well, the way I have experienced it, it isn’t even about competing with men anymore. Now, it is about leaving men behind, that too by hook or by crook.

Feminism began to empower women but I feel there’s a lot of abuse of that empowerment. And because of that, people are afraid of helping women even when they really need it.

For example, a friend of mine once desperately needed a lift for a medical emergency but no one helped her. Probably because people have heard of so many stories where a woman feigned helplessness and later blackmailed the man.

These examples leave a dent on people’s psyche and it’s not good.

Your rap calling out pseudo-feminism has gone viral. What made you write those lyrics?

Well, let me first clarify that I am not against feminism. Equality for women is a must and I totally support that.

I wrote this piece because there are so many who have written about the pain that women go through but no one has written about the benefits or undue advantages women get for the mere fact that they are women.

I decided to write about that.

As a woman you can say please or pretend weakness to get your work done. I am not denying that I haven’t taken those advantages but I do realize that it is wrong.

I decided I am not going to be politically correct and mince my words. The sheer audacity in the words I wrote is what has made a major impact and made the rap viral.

In the beginning I keep it low but after that bhigo bhigo ke maara hai! All of it is true so I really have no qualms for saying what I said. In fact all the Judges loved the transition in my rap — from subtle to hard hitting. That’s why I got a standing ovation!

Darr to banta hai inke saath janta hai... These lines are very deep. Can you share some experiences that made you pen those lines?

I already told you how my friend suffered because she was presumed to be a troublemaker. It made me think. Also, people feel most comfortable remaining blind to troubling social realities.

Not until they fall or get affected do they realize the serious consequences of a certain issue. Earlier our communities used to be so well-knit. If someone was troubled, everyone came and deliberated over the problem. They used to empathize.

But now, people don’t even sympathize because we live in such closed cocoons. People still speak up if a woman is suffering but no one speaks up for a man. He is condemned, ridiculed, and mocked if he shares his problem and is more often than not forced to keep quiet.

I think if we are really talking about Equality then we should look at both sides before making our conclusions! There is, of course, no doubt that women do raise a false cry and the junta supports them blindly even if they’re the wrongdoer.

She can just cry and have her way. People are scared to call out even wrong women for the fear of being slammed by feminists, women’s rights activists and being called anti-woman or misogynists.

So, do you think women are misusing their rights?

I wouldn’t say a hundred per cent are doing it but yes, there are many who are. Everything which is given to us as a benefit, we tend to misuse. People misuse freedom too. I feel that's what's happened with feminism too.

It was meant to empower women, not to be used as an excuse to harass others. I have personally seen abuse of dowry laws and that of #MeToo as well.

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I know a couple whose was a love marriage. Incompatibilities cropped up and they decided to separate, but the woman demanded huge money for divorce. Now when both are equally educated, employed, capable, why should the man pay the woman?

But she threatened a dowry case and the man didn't have a choice. One false accusation destroys the whole life of that man while the woman rarely faces any repercussion.

#MeToo definitely encouraged many women to come out and share their story. But slowly it became a sort of a witch hunt with anonymous accounts talking about instances that happened 10 or 20 years back.

Why didn't these women speak up then? Mere allegation makes the man guilty. Now if he's innocent, who pays for the suffering, trauma and lost years of life for him? No one!

Nothing happens to a woman even if she is proven wrong. Imagine if something wrong happens to me as a woman and I complain and someone asks me to let the man who wronged me go [free]. I would be furious.

But a man is always asked to let the woman go [free] no matter if she's ruined his life, just because she's a woman. Injustice against men isn’t highlighted. Everyone's like, "Ladko ko kuch hota nahi hai. Ladko ka dil patthar ka hota hai." Larger mentality of society is like that, which is very unfortunate.

Feminists say women who misuse their rights are not feminists and shrug off the responsibility. What do you think about it?

It really amuses me. Feminism na...religion ya caste ho gaya (Feminism has become like religion or caste), that if someone says anything against it, you'll take out swords.

Anyone who doesn't subscribe to their notion, they paint them wrong. Why is it necessary for a woman to agree to everything feminists say?

I don't have any issues with these women, I have issues with their mentality, which treats those who don't agree with them as some sort of untouchable, lower class, low standard, the mentality that's so condescending towards others who don't tow your line.

There are feminists for whom I have immense respect because they're truly equal and aren't biased. Even men respect feminists who are balanced. It’s the bigots who are hated.

Now, since I am a woman and I made this rap, there’s still little backlash by feminists. If this was sung by a man, feminists would have made his life hell by now.

Feminists have written articles criticizing me for this performance but I really don’t care. I am an artist and I want to perform freely without any pressures. I will keep doing it.

These lines “Maangte nahi chhori kamaate hai Samman” has struck a chord. What was the sentiment behind these words?

I find it extremely hypocritical when someone asks for respect without earning it for themselves. People are respected for their actions not gender.

I don’t even connect with the idea that elders should be respected. Well why? If an elder person is abusive, will I respect him or her? No I won’t. I will treat them how they treat me.

So I find this whole narrative by feminists of expecting respect just because we are women embarrassing. But I would say that this is a societal problem.

We are taught to respect women, be kind to them, dignified with them. No one says be respectful towards a man just because he is a man. Women too shouldn’t demand respect, they should earn it.

A woman with internalized misogyny, A woman spewing venom against sisterhood, Anti Woman — these are some labels feminists have given you since your rap went viral. How do you react to them?

Well, I think they should listen to my rap properly. It’s not against 'feminism'. It’s against fake feminism, pseudo-feminists who talk about equality but pretend to be victims at the drop of a hat.

It’s against feminists who bring down anyone who utters a word against feminism. It’s against fake feminists who applaud if a woman hits a man but scream and shout if a man hits a woman.

It’s against those who keep giving excuses when there are so many opportunities. It’s against the narrative that projects women as victims forever.

Journalists and feminists condemning me should look at my work, they should hear my songs. I have written about women’s issues, problems they face, their trauma. So saying I am spewing venom against sisterhood is horrible.

These women should support equality rather than gender. I don’t think my song is against women. Anyone who’s angry is perhaps the one who the song exposes. So the itch is understandable. Curtailing a woman’s voice just because she isn’t speaking your language isn’t feminism. It’s bullying!

Rapping is a field dominated largely by men. How has your experience been so far?

Before doing anything, you have to love it, become interested in doing it. Hard core raps are not really followed by women as much as by men. Women love soft raps like commercial raps by Badshah and Honey Singh.

On the other side, men are very inclined towards this art form. It’s difficult to explain in words but the art itself is rough, brash, high-tempo and very different from ordinary writing and singing. So there are less female takers.

There are of course many women who have made a mark in this space but all of them also have a very different aura. I have never seen a 'girly' girl rap.

Their personality traits aren’t what you would stereotypically associate with a woman. Rajakumari, Hard Kaur, DMC, Lilly Singh and now Nikita Sharma (chuckles) – all of them are being appreciated for their talent and their words and art – not gender, and they are all very tomboyish!

How has the response been?

Overwhelming would be an understatement. My social media accounts have tonnes of messages that I am yet to respond to. The videos are being shared all over social media and people are asking: who is this artist?!

Given the response, it’s clear how a woman had to eventually say this. That’s why everyone’s sharing it like crazy. Had this been a man, even men would have hesitated.

But right now, I am totally enjoying the response. People should however know that I have been eliminated from the show. But I have no regrets. I am really looking forward to how things shape up after this.

So, what after this?

As of now I’ll keep working, doing my business and writing and producing songs. I support my family so I can’t stop looking after the business unless rapping becomes a full-time profession.

I am getting love from all across the country. It is very assuring that your work is having impact, starting conversations. People are getting to know me for something good. I am bringing some change to the society. I am very proud of it.

Even if feminists come and abuse me I will say Namaste and leave. I won’t even debate with a feminist because they only speak and preach and never listen and understand.

There ends the interview. You can watch Nikita's viral rap number here.

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