Over the past few weeks, Pakistani singer Taher Shah with his mesmerising song Angel, following up on the captivating Eye to Eye, had owned the music scene on the subcontinent. Unfortunately for him, that honeymoon period might be over.
For, there is competition, from Jacintha Morris, a 52-year-old mother of two from Kerala, whose new song, Is Suzann A Sinner?, was being hailed as the new viral sensation soon after its release online.
Sadly, stung by the laughter and derision that the song evoked on the internet, Morris decided to take down the video. "I work for the central government," she told Scroll.in. I am an ordinary person and I don't want to become a controversial figure." But it was too late, for others had put the video up already. And its speaks – well, sings – for itself.
"I can't believe people are comparing me to Taher Shah," Morris said. "Are they blind? I am a normal person who likes gardening, is interested in literature and want to do good things. But people are making fun of my voice, my singing. What is the world coming to?"
Morris's song is about Suzann, who "strode bold like the models, cat-walked in high-heel sandals, golden curls bounced at her nods, and lay cascading around the face". But it's not just any old song about a woman who makes heads turn. There's a journey here.
Right now the attractive Suzy is using her beauty to flirt with men around town, even rekindling passion in the old. Left behind are "college pals who had become grandmas, placed their hands upon their mouths, to hush the quotes they cited about her, as a teen never had an affair, now a flirt, how can she be?" But her childhood was quite different, as the singer warbles. Suzann was "once a butterfly, now a toad, none read her heart, all along the road".
Morris has written eight volumes of short stories and poems in Hindi, English and Malayalam. "I have won 16 awards for my writing," she said.
Her lyrics, much like her song, are influenced by real life. Suzann is derived from a poem she published four years ago in a collection titled Bubbles of Realities. The song, she asserted, is based on actual research and interviews she did with 25 women she had worked with during her 29 years of government service.
"I knew many girls who were godfearing," Morris said. "They were obedient. They would study hard and were innocent. But what happens to them after that? There is a drastic change in their 50s. Women become completely different. And the reason for the change? Men. Women are not getting mental, physical and monetary security in life and that is affecting them adversely."
After the research, she concluded that there were many women who were suppressing their problems. So why not put it in a song, she thought to herself. "I asked a music director to compose the music," Morris explained. "Because we had to do it on a low budget, most of my family is in the music video. Two of the men are my brothers-in-law. The nuns are played by my sisters. And a younger version of Suzann is played by my daughter."
One of the reasons for the unkind reception on the internet, she said, was regionality. "My research was based on women in Kerala and other people did not identify with it," she surmised. "People in Kerala like my work. In fact, a few have suggested I write a novel based on Suzann. Maybe the people from outside didn't understand it. I didn't think there was a North Indian-South Indian divide was there but it seems to be. Discrimination still exists. On Facebook, I have 1,200 friend requests, 4,997 friends and 4,485 followers. Can I really be a bad person?"
According to Morris, the song is about "three astonishing stages in Suzann's life, the innocent childhood, the studious teenage and the daring old age, an unsolved mystery". But is Suzann a sinner? "I don't want her to be a sinner," Morris said. "I think she is content and moving on with her life."