Sometimes I feel the world is divided into two parts, Art and Science. Both go hand in hand and give us a way of living. Though society had always shown different outlook towards art and science. Science is logical and rationale, so the middle class is always very fond of science. Following the Science stream, gives assured benefits and monitory returns. Whereas arts is never bound by exact rules and logic, so they do not guarantee you returns and hence people are apprehensive opting it. Right from the time children choose their subjects after 10th Class, people judge those children who opted for Art and not Science. Unfortunately, in India, we consider only those people intelligent who come from a science background. We would look up to a great artist who made name and fame but we would never allow our children to do the same. We sometimes lack faith in their art, their dreams and their talent. Our society thinks that art can only comply as a hobby and not a full-time job! This is a midset, which will take years to change.
I believe we all have at least one art of our own, like singing, dancing, writing, drawing, painting, cooking, knitting and so on. These art forms give us the freedom to express our emotions, it gives us peace and pure happiness. The process of creating something is so fulfilling and seeing the finished product is almost like seeing your own baby, when that piece of art receive accolades from other the happiness has no bounds! The singing and dancing of heart in tune to your art is the most unadulterated form of happiness. Not just happiness, in sorrow too art helps you bounce back to normalcy. Like a blotting paper, art soaks all your tension, sorrow and pain and you are a free spirit again. Devotion to any art form is like meditation, it gives peace, satisfaction, happiness and a sense of completeness. However it is not just about the peace and tranquillity that you experience through art, but it also fills a child-like excitement and happiness when you are in process of achieving something new or when you are successful after a series of trial and errors. Once a famous Marathi writer P L Despande said, that “Earning a livelihood is important for a living but association with art gives reason for living!” Significance of art in anyone’s life couldn’t have been more beautifully explained.
A Meeting with a Humble Legend
My first story is about Sreeju, I met him at the Indian Idol auditions in Delhi, in 2007. I would like to tell my new readers that I was part of the creative team of the Indian Idol season 3 & 4. Sreeju came with a pleasing smile and a guitar in his hand, and impressed everyone on the sets right from the judges to the crew. That’s how we became friends and thanks to the social media we remained friends even after not meeting for 12-13 years. But I feel relationships, whether it’s acquaintances or close friendship, distant relative or siblings, are not affected by the physical distances. Same is the case with us. We did not speak for years but when we spoke to each other it felt as if we were never disconnected!
When we were talking, Sreeju told me an honest incident about meeting his Idol coincidentally and even years later he still cherishes that moment. I found the moment very genuine and humble, so I thought, like me, even my reader would enjoy reading his naive experience. A few years back, with a friend Sreeju was waiting at the domestic airport of Delhi. His friend spotted a person wearing a black hat and dark shades. Knowing that Sreeju is a fan of this personality, he said, did you notice who’s is there? Initially, Sreeju ignored, but on insisting he just gave a look in the direction his friend was showing. To his pleasant surprise, he found Mr Hariharan sitting on the other side of the waiting area lobby. Sreeju couldn’t believe his eyes that he is seeing his Idol few feet away. Sreeju was elated beyond words! Although being a contest of Indian Idol, he has sung many times in front of great musicians like Mr Anu Malik, Ms Alisha Chinoy and Mr Udit Narayan. But despite that thought meeting, Mr Hariharan had taken him on an altogether different emotional high! Mr Hariharan had a lot of influence on his singing. His songs inspired Sreeju towards giving his best. A few days back Sreeju has recorded his song “Jhoka Hawa ka” from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. He thought this is the best chance to showcase his talent to in front of this Veteran Musician.
Sreeju went up to him and approached him as any fan would. He said, “Sir, I am Sreeju, I’m your big fan. I am very fond of your singing. You are my Idol, I always look up to you.” Mr Hariharan smiled at him and thanked him. Sreeju further added, ” I recently attempted to sing your song, Jhoka Hawa ka. Would you please hear it?” he gave the headphone to Mr Hariharan and played the music file on the phone. As it started playing, Sreeju excitement had no bounds. after hearing for about a min, Mr Hariharan informed him that there is no voice recorded in that file. Sreeju realised that he played the instrumental or the minus one track that he used to record the song in his voice. Sreeju was extremely embarrassed and while apologising he thought he lost the chance forever. Mr Hariharan said, “Never mind, play the other track.” Sreeju was moved by his humbleness and played his track. Hariharan patiently and willingly heard the entire song and asked him, ” You did not sing the alaap?” Sreeju replied, “No sir”. He said, “OK, OK, You sang very well my boy! Keep it up! Riyaz Karte Rehna.” (Keep practising) Sreeju was on cloud 9, his happiness knew no end. After meeting his Idol, he realised that it’s not just singing and his music which is worth admiration, but his character, nature, modesty.
The Never Dreamt of Dream Came True!
My next story of art is with Rohit, my brother in law, who stays in Pune. Rohit is a keyboardist and Composer. He performs for live concerts with his band. One day, Rohit’s friend Sunil, who is a flute artist, called and asked him, would he accompany him to Delhi to perform for a political meet? Sunil had registered with ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations) and performed for a couple of official events organised by and for Government of India. Rohit along with Amod (the Percussion Artist) agreed for the event. This was the first time that Rohit and Amod were going to perform for such an event. They were informed, that a delegation from Argentina is coming for a political meeting and they have to set up a program for 45-50 mins during their lunchtime. They were also asked to prepare some tracks of Argentinian Music. Then the music run-order was approved by ICCR and they are advised to stick to the run-order once it was finalised.
The D-day had almost come. As informed, Rohit, Sunil and Amod reached Delhi one day before the event. Their accommodation was booked in an exclusive five-star hotel. After a while, a pick-up car was sent as they were summoned to the venue for sound testing. A scrupulous security check was undertaken for permitting entrance to the venue. Rohit was taken aback when he was ordered to take the keyboard out of the case for thorough checking at the entrance of the venue. The entire procedure of reaching the stage was meticulously supervised by the security system. As Rohit and his friends reached inside Auditorium, they were astonished to see the arrangements picture-perfect even a day before. There was no chaos, no disarray, which is usually seen before starting of any major event. The Auditorium was beautifully designed and arranged. Rohit told me that it was one of the most lavish, extravagantly rich and classy auditoria he performed. Once the soundcheck was done, the floor manager came to brief them about tomorrow. Rohit was listening to him while packing his keyboard in its case and then he heard something like Prime Minister of India and he couldn’t believe his ears so he asked again, the floor manager said, pointing his hand in front, “Prime Minister of Argentina and Prime Minister of India will sit here”. Rohit and his friends were stunned on hearing this! Immediately the floor manager added, “This information should not go out of this room as of now! Once the program is concluded and you leave the premise you are free to share this with anyone!” Suddenly all the meticulous security check started making sense to Rohit. As the friends reached back to the hostel, they were still not able to come in terms with the fact that they were going to perform in front of the honourable PM Mr Narendra Modi. Rohit could hardly sleep that night due to excitement.
Finally, the Sun rose to the D-day. The band was all charged up to give their best shot for the concert. The auditorium was opulently arranged to perfection. Since the band was going to perform during the lunch hour every table had a small brochure which had the information about the artist performing and their playlist. The auditorium slowly started filling in and at the end, when Prime Minister of both the countries entered, the program began. The band started playing with zest and vehemence. To their awe, were also receiving a warm reception from the Modiji and there was no better reward than his acknowledgement. This kept their spirits high. After playing a couple of Indian classical and semi-classical music they played some Argentinian tracks. Modiji took note of this and brought it to the notice of PM of Argentina, he recognized and appreciated. Rest of the audience comprised of members from ministry and bureaucrats who were mildly receptive to the concert. As the performance came to an end Modiji himself came for a couple of minutes to congratulate the artist for putting up an extravagant display of art. This modest gesture of the busiest man in the nation was one of the biggest rewards Rohit received for his art. Their exhilaration was beyond any words could ever explain!
Not everybody gets a reward from art that Sreeju and Rohit received. It is not just about luck and chance but it is also about the devotion to Art form, which is not attainable for everyone. But what is easily achievable is the association with at least any one art form like drawing, painting, or crafting, dance/music or performing arts, sculpture, photography or visual arts, art of cooking, home decor or creative writing, which can give solace and meaning to life. Art has always helped me in finding peace and happiness within. It will help you too. Especially during the times of Lockdown when everyone is struggling with internal peace and happiness art will really help like a true friend! Celebrate art to celebrate Life!