By Shazia Anwer Cheema
“There is only one Imperial city —-there is only one Vienna”, said Johann Baptist Strauss I –the King of Waltz, a symbol of the Viennese music. The Royal Classic Gala presents the masterworks of renowned Austrian composers. Accompanied by Viennese Opera singers, the Viennese Royal Orchestra interpret this most charming music in one of the most magnificent buildings of Empirical Era”, read the advertisement.
Me having an old romance with Opera bought the ticket immediately next evening was for me supposed to be exclusive and specific, I was expecting the audience of mid-age, old fashioned, so-called esthetic elites. I was excited to tick one more wish on my To-Do list. All enthusiastic, also recalling all my knowledge about Opera singing, I entered the venue, and the bubble of exclusive enthusiasm burst. The crowd was as young as one can expect for a pop music show. To my utter astonishment, the Viennese youth was predominant in the audience. I as per habit started internalizing the situation and during that process started comparing the scenario with Pakistani youth, feeling pity for myself forever thinking that we are not into civilized entertainment.
Opera began was, indeed delightful; but I must admit my attention got distracted by my own thought process. While staring at stage I was visualizing Mahfal or Shama (two Theatre halls of Lahore) or any such sort of venue with a performer performing on a lude and bizarre lyrics, loaded with sexual diction and performers replicating pornography and our young blood enjoying that experience on the name of esthetic entertainment.
If the youth of Vienna can enjoy and understand a complicated art genre, then cannot we experience the same? It broke my Cliché that we watch what we want, meaning by we want this slapstick vulgarity that is why it is readily available for us. I experienced that, we want what we are being exposed off. It is not the other way around. If we would have been provided thoughtful theatre, pure melodies, esthetic lyrics our brains get trained to enjoy all that. Our Sitar players fighting for their bread and butter, our music composers are rotting in a chance for work, our artists are preferring being rusted out instead of esthetic compromise. The gap is being filled by sheer wordiness and sexual provocation. Art has always been saved by the States. Artists can never get the surety of a sustainable economy; it is a global phenomenon. It is the duty of the state to intervene and rescue art and artist instead of blaming us for promoting vulgarity by watching it. A few years back I was looking for a Sitar teacher for myself and my search turned into research, that not only it is difficult to find the teacher for Sitar, it is also difficult to find an audience who wants to listen. No one is willing to learn music in order to enjoy it. Unlike Pop, Hip-hop and Rock mettle, all the proto instruments, melodies, and performing arts, in general, need grooming. It requires a certain amount of knowledge to appreciate. Therefore, societies who learn to appreciate art can ultimately enjoy it and these types of societies are called cultured societies, this gives art a space to nurture. These societies provide an organism culture not a culture of oppression and censorship.
The societies that are still able to make art relevant are the societies where youth can still enjoy art in its purest form on the other hand the societies floating on the muddy waters of political ideologies, and personal agendas always behave in the way we are behaving. Our Pakistani society is entangled between subjective right and wrong, searching for esthetic pleasure in a socially suffocated society that ultimately forces them to drive sexual pleasure out of mediocracy.
There is a long terrain of religious conspiracies and political manipulations to understand why cannot we enjoy Mozart and we can enjoy Naseebo Lal. Why do we have no theatrical repertoire of esthetic drama and why do we have three to four plays only on Lahore theatre repertoire on daily basis, all full and packed? The reason is not that all of a sudden human brain have to stopped understanding art, the reason is, that shallow and low form of art act like opium and numb our high order capabilities. We do not need to reason and judge while watching Nida Ch on the stage the only cognitive function required to process her performance is basic level animalistic instinct. You satisfy it and forget about the basic right of the provision of pure art for the art sake.
Blaming our youth that they are not familiar with art is unjust, they have never been provided that experience in the first place. The world’s tainted democracies cannot afford art at their doorstep knocking with reason and logic. Art is a luxury that uncertain states are not willing to dwell on.
Nations are known from what art they enjoy—–