Music in our backyard

There was excessive debating and discussing about the event

Freeze FRAME


Zubin Mehta was right in saying “Kashmir chose me”! Of course, pain draws artists. This is something universal. How far has this been instrumental for Zubin to be here, remains unanswered. Nevertheless, the fact remains that the bruised beauty of Kashmir has been ‘attracting’ public figures, renowned performers, singers and celebrities since last two decades. Kashmir has become a visiting home for many such activities. Conferences, convocations, trainings, workshops, sports events, festivals and exhibitions have been morphed into an element of political discourse here. It has happened gradually, and because of the prevailing conflict, it is something inevitable. Conflict in any area has multiple dynamics to nurture and cultivate. That’s why different players, lobbies and groups take a mileage out of them as per their respective agendas.
And then, this type of musical event here is not the first of its kind. Many such shows were held on the banks of ravished Dal Lake. From welcoming ghazal maestro Jagjit Singh to performances where our young boys and girls danced to the Junoon tune (first international pop band to visit Kashmir in 2008), to flourishingly rocking bands in Kashmir that are mostly sponsored by state agencies—the tamasha here goes on. Facing a few hiccups, the ‘entertainment industry’ has managed to stay alive with the patronage of many among us as well as those at the helm of affairs. Also, there is no question of getting religion involved in such activities since there is nothing ‘Islamic’ in all of us except our names.  
As such, organizing a musical concert with a name like Zubin Mehta is no big and novel happening. However, our lavish response rendered it so. There was excessive debating and discussing about the event. Newsprint was bloated with arguments and only arguments…. Zubin should not come here…..(But he came). Concert should be banned…. (But it went off). Feelings of Kashmir are tarnished…. (But feelings here never bother powerful). Reality of Kashmir should be heard… (But reality here is never impartial). So on and so forth.
Wondrous if organizing international shows like this could alter the status of Kashmir anyway! Had it been so, the Sayonee wave would have thumped the tables of reality in favour of its organizers. Four years down, Zubin was not to be called for sending the same message—that Kashmir is not only a beautiful prison, it is also a beautiful paradox!! Strange.
Hardcore realities rarely change. For a diplomat from the land of Hitler, ‘cultural diplomacy’ may have trespassed its domain. However, actual diplomacy is getting more tough and too political in today’s world. It is becoming hard to hoodwink the informed public and influence their opinion effortlessly. Maneuvering may help temporarily. So, for organizers of such tamasha, it only works when it is publicized and hyped by its challengers because that drags it loudly into the public domain, lending it attention, meaning and import which otherwise might not have been easily possible. Besides, in media parlance, controversy fetches popularity. Making things controversial magnifies the glare of promotion.
If only those who ‘oppose’ such events could see beyond the apparent and save themselves falling into ‘traps’ that make up the game of conflict. Moreover, for opponents to be credible, subjectivity and selectivity cannot help. There are instances where silence was deliberate and there are examples where noise has been detrimental. Opposing one musical concert is okay provided we also succeed in listening out to the ‘music in our backyard’. The growing generation of young rappers and rockers, who want to pitch, are a truth. They too believe that transition from guns to guitars is an unassailable mode of peaceful expression. That we haven’t heard them seriously is the reason behind the encouragement they get from other quarters who are showcasing them for their own interest. From musical training to instruments, this generation is receiving patronage from them alone.
Other kinds of ‘music in our backyard’ include a plethora of issues that never kicked as much dust as Zubin’s concert. The fate of so many people who are struggling to muddle through the harsh impact of conflict in Kashmir; the matters that have thrown up moral challenges before those breathing conflict day in and day out—the music that is genuine as well distressing.
(The columnist teaches at Media Education Research Centre, MERC, University of Kashmir)

Lastupdate on : Sat, 7 Sep 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 7 Sep 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 8 Sep 2013 00:00:00 IST

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