I find a number of lyricists, singers, musicians who come up to me and say that we want to take this up as a career. While I try not be cynical while giving them any advice, I try to paint as much as a realistic picture of what lies ahead for them in the profession.
Yesterday, this post appeared on my Twitter timeline and it touched a chord. The following is what came to mind upon reading the post by Puneet Chadha.
After 25 years of ‘following my passion’, I can confidently say that this decision comes at a price. To pursue your passion as a hobby and to pursue it as your profession are totally different things. If you are good at your job, you’ll get the appreciation that is at the end of the tunnel, but nobody can bypass that dark tunnel.
Sometimes you get the feeling that the tunnel is also adding miles to itself and what seems to be a tunnel might as well be a cave or an abyss. When I joined music as a profession, I was sure I wanted to do songs, especially film songs. But it took me 6 years to get my first film and that film never saw the light of day. The same thing with awards. It took me 15 years in the profession to win my first award. By the time you have lost all desire for it. Even if you get the appreciation, the real struggle is to earn a decent livelihood.
I have been privileged to have my family supporting me but that is not always enough. Because an artist with no self esteem can’t stay an artist for a long time. It becomes absolutely necessary for a person in the profession to have a supportive spouse. If it weren’t for Suchitra Inamdar’s understanding of what entails being a spouse of an artist, I wouldn’t have reached this far. It is a terrible strain on your personal life if you are not earning or earning enough and only a great deal of maturity will enable you to pull through this phase.
When I decided to make the Marathi Abhimaangeet against all practical wisdom, it meant that I wouldn’t make a single paisa for the next six months. The six months turned into one & a quarter years. As much as the song was appreciated, there was a lot of personal criticism too.
Even an educated journalist like Girish Kuber did not hesitate to call me an ‘idler’ or a ‘bum’ just because he feels I have time on my hands to speak about the song. Because they don’t understand that idleness or leisure is only apparent in an artist’s life. The mind is
continuously moving in the highest gear and there is no way to stop it. You grope with anxiety all the time because if you can’t think of a tune then you might not earn. You are as good as your last song in terms of public perception.
There are two things that make your journey worthwhile. First – the depth of understanding of life that you get by following your passion is indescribable if and only if your passion translates into a quest for meaning. Music and art helped me understand the world around me, the space beyond it and more importantly it helped me discover my own unique identity. Second, it gives you a spiritual fulfilment. The journey itself becomes the destination.
Like Faiz says,
‘फ़ैज़’ थी राह सरबसर मंज़िल
हम जहां पहुँचे कामयाब आये।
Not all people will discover ‘Amrit’ and become immortal but if you have walked in the desert for a long, long time, even if you discover water, the significance is no less. Following your passion, if done in all earnestness, is a lifetime of pain for a few moments of ecstasy. But in those moments of ecstasy, you live a billion lives. If you are ready to pay the price, there is nothing comparable.
© Kaushal S. Inamdar, 2023