So Nach Baliye 2 has wound down to its two finalist couples. The dark horse team of Yash and Gouri Tonk made it to the finals while the break-the-stage longtime favorites Tanaaz and Bakhtiyaar
were eliminated yesterday.This is so much like last year that I’m inclined to be cynical. Last year’s hot contenders Rageshwari and Varun Badola were outed after a phenomenal performance culminating in a classic frozen-on-stage moment. It was heart-wrenching then. Yesterday’s speech was heart-wrenching. Poof…goes my cynicism.
What is it about the stage, the arclights, the spotlight? They woo, they lure and thousands the world over spend minute after minute of their lives chasing glory dreams.
I was born to the kind of intellectual snobbery that resides in families used to education and ‘qualified professional’ sort of jobs. Music and books may have a place in our lifestyle…as hobbies to cement the ‘all-rounder’ image but never will these be considered respectable professions. The performing arts are not even considered worthy of any kind of dignity….song and dance is for those who want to fritter their lives away.
Luckily, I spent my college years in a place teeming with starry-eyed wannabe musicians, singers, dancers, models, actors and filmstars (yes, there is a difference and you bet they know it). It gave me a wholly new perspective to the world of the stage.
Fear of public speaking is the most common phobia in the world. What makes a person step over inborn fears and anxieties and walk up to the chopping block? What makes anyone willing to stand up and have everyone else take potshots at them? What allows a person to set himself (or herself) up for ridicule, disdain, mirth and even hatred (think John Lennon)? What indeed makes a person a performer?
I’ve been on stage…it isn’t an entirely alien experience. I have had my 15 seconds of glory and a few I-wish-the-earth-would-swallow-me moments and a whole lot of the performer’s dread….indifference. Those were experiences I’ll never forget.When you walk up the steps, you know you’re walking away from the comfort of your life. For those moments you’re up there to do whatever you do, you will be scrutinized from every angle. You may be there to sing a song or give a religious discourse or even present another group of more talented people. But at that moment you are being seen. You are being heard. And you are being listened to. The things you say may get through may be misinterpreted. But the things you don’t say…your pauses, your breathing, the rolling of your eyes, how you hold your head, your posture, your belief, your attitude, your deepest fears, your earliest traumas, your most heartfelt relationships, your family, your friends, your lovers, your enemies…they will all be there with you. You will be standing there frozen in that moment carrying the weight of every moment of your years on your shoulders. And up for the whole world to see. And judge. And condemn, if they will.
At least that’s how it feels. Don’t believe me? What do you think made Bakhtiyaar go stricken dumb and then suddenly confess to bad behavior in marriage and then break into tears suddenly? Being eliminated from the finals of a dance competition most certainly isn’t the biggest moment in anyone’s life. But being up on stage and being judged by others…has a way of making you judge yourself. Very harshly. It’s called a moment of truth.
Audiences world over, react in various ways to various performances. But always we are judging, jeering, laughing, and crying with the person on stage. Most of us probably judge other people quite hard but don’t express it as such, under the guise of politeness or indifference. However, notice people’s reactions to a performer. Notice your own. We, the collective audience separate the performer from our midst. He is our dartboard, our easel and our notepad. We write our true reactions on his performance.
Celebrities and people who spend a lot of time making public appearances and other such performances say that those nerves never quite leave you. And yet, they stay. Those who survive one such moment of truth are drawn irresistibly to another one. And another one. And some who don’t but catch a glimpse of what it has to offer…spend their lives running after it. It isn’t just fame. Standing up on stage is quite like….coming face to face with yourself. And once you fall in love with that, you never quite get over it.
On the real life note, I’m rooting for Tina and Hussein…they’re good, individually and together and droolsome to boot!