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     Volume 11 |Issue 19 | May 11, 2012 |


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The Audacity of being Audacious

Aasha Mehreen Amin

There are roughly (read gross generalisation) four kinds of people. There are the successful, over achieving kind who have developed the biggest invisible chip on the shoulder recorded by Guinness. There are the brilliant fools who think they are worth nothing, having egos the size of a peanut. There are the sensible, averagely intelligent people with a realistic view of themselves. And then there are the wannabes, individuals with very little talent but nurture the delusion of having amazing virtuosity.

The last category of individuals are the most interesting of the lot as they will go to the most extreme lengths to prove that they are celebrity material.

The obvious ones are psuedo-musicians who think making a semi- funky music video with a lot of extraneous sounds and special effects will cover up the fact that THEY JUST CANNOT SING! It is painfully embarrassing to watch on TV for example, a young woman wearing boots and gloves in the middle of summer, making gestures copied from rap artists with her original epileptic dance moves, singing some really old Bengali folk song that our grannies once taught us but now has a hip hop beat - and implying that she is some pop diva. It maybe questioned here the reason why one with such critical views would deem to keep watching something that is so jarring. Well, it's a bit like the perverse pleasure a person who is frightened of ghosts gets by watching horror films every Friday, even if it means having to wait till daylight to use the bathroom.

Then there are the wannabe writers. They are prolific, persistent and their writing is more often than not, puerile. They will pester editors and publishers to the point when just saying 'yes' is so much easier than giving a tortured explanation of why their writing just does not work. It may mean hours of agony trying to decipher sentences that are full of difficult words but completely devoid of verbs or attempting to jazz up a sleep-inducing article on 'the current problems of tertiary education'. Strangely, while talented writers are brusquely brushed aside, these non-writers and non-poets will get published (usually by themselves or their parents) and have fancy book launches where eminent personalities attend (because it's easier to say 'yes') and then they will somehow get rave reviews, written by a relative, in the papers.

Needless to say, an overdose of wealth in the hands of some people make them believe that they have also acquired for themselves, intellect and creativity as well.

Sometimes overenthusiastic parents are the culprits of spreading this disease called mediocrity. Not having been able to fulfil their own dreams they place on their offspring the unreasonable burden of prospective brilliance that may be totally non-existent. How many obsessive mothers are out there bringing out CDs of their six-year-old's screeching renditions of modern romantic songs? How many parents constantly talk of their child's intellect as if he/she is the next Stephen Hawking?

It could also be the other way around. Ordinary children of extraordinary men and women often become deluded into thinking that they can establish their own celebrity status just because of their lineage. Although there are scientific theories to prove that talent can be passed on to future generations, in many cases they haven't. Yet the children will use their blood ties to the fullest, trying to prove that they can sing, write, draw, rule, like their famous parent.

The consequences of a large number of such wannabe talents can be seen on television which continuously airs contests, music videos, drama serials and films that look like parodies of Indian channel versions of the same thing. One might add that some of the shows and films on Indian channels are themselves bad copies of American shows and films and hence the copying of something that is already substandard is unlikely to be better than anything anyway.

The crude lesson from all this is that it doesn't matter if you don't have talent; all you need is to worm your way into some public platform and give the impression that you are doing something ground-breaking - the figurative epileptic dance - and you may actually get the screaming applause, from a clueless crowd, that you constantly crave for.


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