Saturday, September 20, 2008

Random thoughts- 1

I was going through some of my old cassettes (yes, they used to be very popular) and came across one that caught my attention and stayed with me throughout the day… It brought back all those bitter-sweet memories of a show which I was a part of. The concert was held long ago at Gayana Samaja, an old and famous hall situated on KR road (don’t ask me for directions. I often get lost when I go to South Bangalore). The programme was conceptualized in a big manner. I was asked to be a part of it by my “then” Music teacher. My Guruji said it was a very big event with more than 15 musicians on a huge stage. I guess I was the youngest of the lot. I was some 15- 16 years of age (sigh… sigh… sigh… I don’t understand why we have to grow up!). Okay, I know you must be wondering why in the hells' name am I going on and on about my teenage woes! Well, what I am going to say next has had a great influence on me. You will find out why and how shortly :)

So the practice sessions started. I was thrilled to be a part of such a great group which had few great musicians, very very senior to me. Some of them were up and coming musicians, who were given a lot of attention by the way. The rest were (and still are) professional Hindustani classical musicians. We were putting up a two and a half hour mega Meera Bhajan show. My Guruji -a perfectionist, if I can say so, was extremely strict. As in, even a slightest mistake wouldn’t go unnoticed and he would make us sing the entire bandish again! After three or four practice sessions I realized that I would just be there to support the rest of the singers. Like.. umm.. well .. chorus.. I did not have a major role so to speak, but I was hoping to get a solo piece (which I did, a 30 second aalaap.. you can snicker if you like.. pffftt). These sessions were very educative; however I envied those “up-coming stars” who got a chance to sing some brilliant compositions by my Guruji. Some people have all the luck I say!!!

The day of the concert is unforgettable. A lady (neither do I remember her name nor do I know how she got into the group) came up to me and said – “You know, Shruthi.. umm… there is a slight problem. We will not be able to provide a mic to you, cos there is a shortage of microphones'. As I believe you wouldn’t be singing anything important (!!) I guess its ok with you? Yes? I have discussed this with so-and-so and she says its fine”-*with a pretentious smile on her face*. The so-and-so happened to be one of the “up and coming singers”. I was furious. By the time I could respond she was gone. I gaped and let the whole one-sided dialogue sink in.
My ego was immensely hurt. I went to my mom and sister (who else) and furiously ranted about it; furious about the fact that I wouldn’t be of any use on stage. My sister was furious as well. She was like -“Don’t tell me they have mics for 15 odd people and not one extra for you? A very nice way to treat an artist I must say (?? Hehe). Shall I go speak to her?” She is a darling I tell you :). I imagined myself on stage without a microphone!! How hideous would that look I thought! Meanwhile my mom, a very patient and a calm lady, asked me to relax and sing anyway as nothing was important for me than to sing in front of an audience. I wasn’t convinced. I walked out of the room to witness another dialogue between the “up-and-coming singer” and one of our senior artists, he said “look so-and-so, arrange for another mic. We still have another hour before we can start. Shruthi should be heard”.
That’s when I realized it’s not a big deal to be recognized as a good singer and feel proud about it. Greatness lies in humility, the respect we show towards people who are junior to us. And that’s what this great man did by showing his concern over the fact that I could not be heard without a mike/mic and respecting me as an artist. An observation which has influenced me in many ways. Thank you Sir.
I haven’t heard or seen either of those ladies after the show got over. By now, I hope they would have realized what it takes to achieve greatness…