Written by: Karthik TMK
How many of us are envious of the talent possessed by a Rahman, a Zakir Hussain, an Illayaraja, SPB, Kamal Hassan, Hariprasad Chaurasia; or a 7 year old boy who stole our hearts with a virtuoso performance at the CWG opening ceremony? Is that the only kind of art? What about the mom /wife who juggles cooking, cleaning , care, children without an appraisal ? Isn’t that an art as well?
So what is Art? Is it skill, talent, music? It is much beyond. It is one which touches another human soul.
But do you know that God selects his artists with care. God has a reason for giving each and every one of us an art! And God chooses the moment you get to know it!
Rollback to the year 2003, a year I was coming out of probably the biggest personal challenge I have ever had. This was the year when we were working on a very ambitious play called “Ashwaha” where I was playing the role of “Duryodhan” in a different light. Incidentally, Shruthi and Akshara Hassan – the two kids who were a part of that play! Their mother Sarika was the costume designer for the play… A wonderfully warm human being. This was in January. In April, I got a call back from Sarika, asking me to come with her to “The Banyan” a home for the homeless and mentally challenged.
“Me?”, I asked. She said, “Yes, come there and perform something for the residents there”.
“What?? What am I going to do?”, I wondered. I didn’t know how they would respond. They are not “normal” according to us, right?
But Sarika convinced me saying that as an artist I must trust her instincts and just come. With trepidation and absolute fear, I walked into Banyan. Before I knew what was happening , we were singing songs, dancing, laughing, jumping… some of the ladies were 85 plus!
Suddenly, a beautiful old lady stopped dancing, slowly walked up to me and kissed me on my forehead with a tearful smile on her face.
And the moment happened in my life!
Cut to the year 2007 , Asha Nivas was organizing a camp for cancer patients who had lost their voices completely. evam believed that I could do a theatre workshop for the patients.
What? A theatre workshop for people who can’t speak? The doctor there convinced me to come!
And what a workshop we had!
We sang MGR – Jayalalitha duets, NTR songs without voices and they were probably more beautiful than the originals.
And finally, when I thought my art was only a selfish means to promote my interests, I was called to the Juvenile home in Egmore.
Scene: Just outside the boys room, it looked like a cage
I requested the people there to let me in. They said, “No way! These boys are dangerous! You don’t have training.” but I insisted on it and told them to send in help if I didn’t get out in ten minutes.
Scene: Inside the room
Boy 1: “Aye, Yaarraa nee?” (Hey! Who are you?)
Boy 1 (in tamil): “What do you want here?”
Me: “Just came to play with all of you”
Boy 1: “We are not interested” (followed by a torrent of the choicest of swear words… Tamil is mighty creative!)
Me: “So you guys are afraid of me? I challenge you to dance.”
Boy 1: “Hahaha! Of course! Better than you – if you sing I will dance.”
I started singing some random songs and slowly I challenged every one of them and for the next 15 minutes we had the most energetic dance session ever!
I finally said bye to them.
My friend, Mr. Boy 1 says, “Anna, next yeppo vareenga?(when are you coming next?)”. I stopped, smiled and realised… All their pent up anger just needs an outlet. Why can’t the authorities engage them in art instead of treating them like animals?
It slowly began to dawn on me. My art is of no use unless it is used to make another soul smile. Art has the incredible ability to change the life of a fellow human and touch them in a way nothing else can! And the best part is, all of us are artists. No special skills needed! Just the passion to make this world a better place for everyone around us!