The nascent phase of a new year is an appropriate time to think differently and venture into unchartered territories. One major aspect that is almost totally missing from our lives strikes me as being doable and even must-doable. In our society, the lack of emphasis on creative pursuits is not only galling, it is appalling!
Whatever else we busy ourselves with in life, it is imperative that we take out time to notice and appreciate the arts, music, writing, photography, calligraphy, culinary skills, et al. Every human being has some genes within that aid and abet such creativity. But very few are able to hone their talents and emerge as pall bearers of their craft. Some secretly long to perform on the big stage, having nurtured for years their art, but having faced skepticism and even unjustified opposition from their families.
Somehow, our society has not taken to the creative world with open arms, despite the fact that India possesses a truly rich spectrum of tradition, customs, art, culture and music. We have been bogged down by poverty, inequality and confrontation as a nation, over the decades. Yes, all these issues, along with their nuances, need meaningful tackling and sustained efforts to be effectively countered. However, as a people, we have to realise that life is not just about the Dangal of challenges that we all have to enter into. It is also about entertainment and laughter as well as the finer aspects of human life.
Tribes of all kinds, with their folk music and dances, are prime examples of communities that do not wait for their problems to be solved before delving into the arts. Those of us who are more fortunate than them certainly have no excuse to dither when it comes to participating in or encouraging musical fiestas or street theatre for instance.
European countries, with all their problems, recent and age old, have never lost sight of their creativity. Their populations as a whole spend much more time and energy in organising or being part of festivals and sports events etc than we do in India.
Amir Khan’s blockbuster, ‘Dangal’, has what it takes to shake up and inspire young and old to shed inhibitions and go whole hog into sports. For me, one of the most memorable moments from the film is the impromptu bout between father and daughter, as well as the one between two ‘sarkari’ babus! To think of clerks or even bureaucrats acting as wrestlers or musicians in their spare time may seem preposterous, but it is a fact that many people with staid lifestyles possess hidden skills that they have had to brush under the carpet, somewhere down the road.
As a young SDM at Kalka, I recall witnessing a few wrestling Dangals in the foothills that were well organised and well attended.
But on the whole, in the northern States, we seem to lay even less emphasis on creativity than in some other parts of India. The states of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana are home to a wonderful variety of cuisine and art forms. But we do not get to see or hear enough of our region’s folk music and dances, though we do get to eat a lot of rich food that tantalises the palette!
As mentioned in these columns earlier, the whole mindset of our society needs to undergo a serious amount of transformation in order for young people to be able to express themselves in their chosen arenas. We have to, as parents and well wishers, realise that fixated ideas are not going to be beneficial for anybody, when it comes to choosing careers and pastimes.
Creative outlets need to be established by the State as well as by private enterprise- centers of excellence for the performing arts, for example. These new types of Dangals will then be able to provide the platforms that the youths need to express their skills. And by concentrating on creativity as a pursuit of some importance, we will, as a nation, be able to tone down our cynicism and our negativity.
Let’s bring on the creative Dangals then. Let the fun and games begin!