Its 8:30 pm on a Friday evening in some office in Gurgaon . Shomik (name changed) looks away from his laptop towards his mobile as it rings for the fourth time in the last 1 minute. Its his “band” of friends who have been trying to reach him for the last hour. He was supposed to be at the “basement” for the band’s weekly get together. He is after all their lead guitarist. He finally texts he won’t be able to make it this week.
The Trapped Artist is the story of thousands of artists like Shomik who spend their day and sometimes nights working in corporate offices, shops, establishments, government buildings or tied-up in household chores but are still holding on to their passion for music and dance.
“It started from an early age. We were sent to the Music Academy to learn and I found a fascination for the tabla and have been playing for the last 20 odd years now. It was more of a hobby initially but when I started showing a little too much passion for it I was asked to balance it with my studies”, says Nirmal (name changed) as he belts out a few thak-thup-thaks on the tabla. Nirmal now regularly plays tabla every morning for an hour before leaving for work. Weekends he says are better. He sometimes gets his gang of friends over and they enjoy their sessions.
The scene is the same for Arati (name changed) except her passion for the classical dance finds an outlet through practice with her daughter now. “After my college I took up a part-time job as administrator in a school and could spend a few hours practicing kathak at home. Things changed after marriage and when my daughter was born it was full time to the family. We don’t have a help at home so I need to make sure that I manage the house well. That is my priority now. But my daughter is learning kathak so I join her sometimes when she does her practice at home”, she adds. A little into the discussion and she reveals with a gleam in her eyes “This time when they have the puja celebrations in our society, I plan to take-up the stage with my daughter. We are so looking forward to it”.
“The scene in India, when it comes to Music and Dance, is the same as that of Cricket. There are those few top players who get to play at a National level and become well-known, well-paid. The lesser ones might get to join the state teams or the local clubs but a vast majority will always remain in the shadows wanting and waiting for chances to perform. Over time they get replaced by the younger lot that comes in every year. But that doesn’t mean that passions die out. Even if they are occupied full time in some other profession they make sure they do enjoy their art” explains Tajinder Bagga, CEO-Localturnon.
This seems to be echoed in many responses we get from artists. Ujjawal (name changed) says “ I might not be able to make it to the stage myself but I do attend music and dance performances every month. Its great to have those couple of hours to myself and my art”. This is in some ways also acts as encouragement for the younger artists. “While I get to enjoy the performances its in some ways my give back to the art that I love” Ujjawal adds.
“And Nirmal sums it up beautifully when he says “You can never take away the Artist in me. Even if I wont ever make this a full time profession now but I will live and enjoy it my way. Zindagi Lambi Nahi, Badi Honi Chahiya” he adds with a chuckle. “