How could Shabana Azmi make such a callous remark on art and artists: Alka Raghuvanshi
The recent statement by actor Shabana Azmi where she compared films with an artwork and said film is an expensive medium unlike paintings where all you put on stake is the cost of the canvas, colours and brushes has upset artists. Alka Raghuvanshi is one of them.Updated: Dec 19, 2018 14:33 IST
Veteran actor Shabana Azmi’s comment: “Film is an expensive medium. It’s not like paintings where all you put on stake is the cost of the canvas, colours and brushes. Even the cheapest film costs about a crore...” has irked the artist frat. Artist and art curator Alka Raghuvanshi sounded rather upset with this “callous remark”.
“If anyone else had said something like this, I would not have felt so bad,” says Raghuvanshi, adding, “How could somebody who understands art and belongs to a family of artists say this.”
“I am aghast! This is like saying that all literature or poetry is only worth the paper it is written on and the ink it is written with. By the same logic, actors or dancers or musicians shouldn’t even get paid. After all, they are not even investing in two-rupees worth of paper or in canvas or paint! Arey, what about the blood, sweat, tears of the artist, the journey that is distilled in that expression of the art experience? No one can possibly afford to really pay for any art – painting, dance or music and even acting. How can you pay for my life journey which is what I bring to my art?,” she asks rhetorically.
“That money is a pittance anyone pays for the moment when the artist allows an audience into his or her creative impulse,” says the artist.
However, Raghuvanshi says Shabana Azmi is not the first one to make a comment like that. The question about the cost of raw materials being used in the artwork is often raised by “artistically illiterate”. To which Raghuvanshi says, “Well, I just shut them up with an equally rude answer that it is far too expensive and you can’t afford it. I know artists who have sold gold to buy canvas. To my mind that choice itself made their painting invaluable. Art cannot be judged by the cost of canvas and paint.”
Raghuvanshi feels particularly “hurt” by Azmi’s comment because Azmi is herself an artist and is the daughter of poet Kaifi Azmi and theatre actor Shaukat Azmi. Raghuvanshi says, “Just like filmmaking, other arts — be it theatre, painting, dance or music — have their expenses, too. No art is solitary and its presentation to audiences requires money – will someone remind Shabana that it is as complicated and as expensive as a film? And sometime like films, it bombs and all money goes down the drain. From venue rentals to printing catalogues to framing — the list is endless…It is as complicated as organising a wedding.”
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