I am my own critique

One day I will write separately to tell you how I got connected with performing art, the Stage, music and the entertainment world. Fortunately, I have many friends who are renowned singers, musicians and poets. One such genius is Shri Babulal Gandharva.

Babulal ji has invented a new musical instrument called “Bela Bahar”. The thought of making this instrument came to him after he felt that there were some shortcomings in the Sarangi which his father used to play. He also felt that the future generation of musicians and listeners would benefit from it and would keep the Indian classical music alive. Bela Bahar is a pure combination of Violin and Sarangi. This instrument was approved by AIR and Doordarshan authorities after many struggles.

One day, Babulal ji invited me to his concert at School for The Blind in Dadar, Mumbai. Majority of the audience was visually challenged. They were enjoying Babulal ji’s Bela Bahar, playing some amazing classical notes. I too was drenched in the enchanting raagas while observing Babulal ji playing his soulful music. As Babulal ji finished his rendition, he received a standing ovation from the listeners. I reached out to congratulate him for his heart-warming performance.

I asked him — “Babulal ji, I was observing you playing and at times I could see a smile on your face, at times disappointment and anger. Why was that?”

He replied with a smile — “ Rajiv Bhai, har achcha kalaakar apne kano me ek shrota bithata hai. Wo shrota usse kaheta hai ki kalaakar achcha baja raha hai ya galati kar raha hai. Mein khush hota tha jab mera shrota meri tareef karata tha, aur mein apne aap pe gussa hota tha jab wo mujhe galat bajane par daant deta tha.”

(Rajiv bhai, every good artist would place a ‘listener’ in his ears. The listener would tell the performer if he was playing well or not. I was feeling nice when my listener was appreciating me and was upset when he was scolding me for my poor performance.)

These reflexive comments by Babulal ji were simple but profound. He so casually taught me the way of institutionalising this important learning of being your own critique and doing continuous self-analysis while executing your task.

By default, I have worked with organisations where I had to build the activities from grass root upwards. Also, I never had my “boss” sitting in the next cabin and supervising me. Hence from the very beginning of my professional career, I was sensitive about the fact that I will have to self-monitor my performance and contribution to my organisation. Till date before bedtime I ask myself this basic question. Have I contributed more to my organisation and am I doing justice to the salary I am drawing?. If the answer is positive, I get a good night’s sleep. Or else I know, it’s time for me to WAKE UP!

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सा से सा तक सात सुर, सात सुरों में राग,
उतना ही संगीत है जितनी तुझ में आग — निदा फ़ाज़ली

Sa` se Sa` tak saat sur, saat suron me raag;
utana hi sangeet hai, jitni tujh me aag. — Nida Fazli

All raagas are comprised of seven notes, your music is only equal to your burning desires.

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