Why Do We Keep Letting Mika Singh And His Ilk Get Away With Everything?

Would a woman with Mika's track record survive, nay flourish, the way he's doing right now?

It’s quite possible that the title track of Mika Singh’s first solo album, Saawan Mein Lag Gayi Aag (1998), was a runaway hit solely because everyone was listening to it repeatedly in a bid to try and decipher the lyrics. Dil mera… what? Aaaayen?

Or was it Mika’s nasal warbling, so starkly different from the Lucky Alis and Shubha Mudgals of the time, that made the song a crowd favourite? Back when indiepop was easy-to-love and more importantly, easy to sing, Mika was an anomaly. But his popularity, just like the end notes of his vocals, trailed into oblivion all too soon.

The next time we heard of him, it was 2003 and his brother Daler Mehndi had been accused of human trafficking. Mehndi and his troupe had been allegedly using their music tours as cover for illegal trafficking. Mika had been named as well but charges against him were soon dropped.

It was 2006 by the time Mika managed to find his way into Bollywood. He sang two songs that year, including the popular Dil Mein Baji Guitar (Apna Sapna Money Money), but that’s not why everyone was talking about him. It was Rakhi Sawant and the kiss Mika allegedly forced on her at his birthday party that made headlines across the country. Publicity stunt or not, it was the footage of Mika looking visibly amused while Rakhi looked on, seemingly shocked, that did what his first album and his Bollywood debut had not. ‘King’ Mika became a household name, albeit notoriously. But his reputation and his professional life, so unlike a woman’s in our society, remained unscathed post the controversies. The next year, he sang for six major Bollywood films, including Mauja hi Mauja from 2007’s smash hit, Jab We Met. 

By 2011, Mika was a legit star. He was friends with the who’s who of the entertainment industry — from Salman Khan to Akshay Kumar — and his songs were doing phenomenally well at party circuits. That he was also named in a hit-and-run case in 2011 after allegedly running down an auto, is trivia nobody really cared about. Like it often happens in that part of the Hindi film industry, it was apparently the driver, and not the celebrity who was at fault again.

In February 2013, Mika was arrested as he arrived in India from Bangkok for allegedly carrying both Indian and foreign currency beyond the permissible limit. A month later, several of his farmhouses in Gurgaon were sealed for allegedly running commercial projects as well as ‘tourist centres’ without permit.

But just like before, his fame and his infamy kept comfortable pace, walking hand-in-hand, neither obstructing the other’s path. In case you were wondering, this was also the year Mika recorded the maximum number of songs. Twenty eight to be exact. A career best for him.

Where his professional life peaked, his personal life seemed a bit on turbulent waters. In 2016, an FIR was filed against him for allegedly sexually harassing a fashion designer who he counterclaims was blackmailing him for money.  The same year, at the music launch of Happy Bhaag Jayegi, revealing a rather larval sense of ‘humour’ — for want of a better word — Mika took a dig at the film’s leading lady, Diana Penty, while on stage. “Diana panty. Gabru kaccha,” he said to scattered titters while a red-faced Diana, looked on in mute embarrassment.

In 2017, another FIR was filed against Mika for slapping a doctor at one of his stage shows which had lead to injury. That same year he also sent out a tweet in support of Gurmeet Ram Rahim, the Dera Sacha Sauda chief accused of multiple counts of alleged rape. And yet somehow, he’s never been held accountable for his inappropriate words or his reckless deeds. Neither by the industry he works in, nor by his fans.

That is, until a few days ago, he shared a video from the business class compartment of a luxury airline, boasting about how he’d booked all the seats because he wanted to travel alone.

The instant backlash to this video has superseded all the outrage his past extra-curricular endeavors had managed. What illegal or grossly inappropriate behaviour could not do, his crass show of wealth has managed.

Mika has for quite some time now, belonged to that illustrious club of B-Town singers who’ve had regular run-ins with the law and / or generally displayed behaviour that’s too crude for civilised society, and yet thrived professionally. Be it Papon who kissed a minor girl on Facebook live and then passed it off as ‘guru-shishya’ parampara, or Abhijeet Bhattacharya who has cases of molestation to inciting religious disharmony. For far too long, and far too conveniently, behaviour that would be life-altering and career-ending in a woman, has been ignored and in doing so, enabled in men.

We could go on and on about the consequences of not checking problematic behaviour like Mika’s while we still can, but where’s the point? You’re still going to enthusiastically shake a leg or two at Jumme Ki Raat Hai at the next party, aren’t you?