Monday, October 22, 2012

Art Media as a Vehicle for Transformation with Divya Chandra

Where Spirit Meets Art
by Divya Chandra

Where Spirit Meets Art- Explores, comments and delves in to the intricacies of the world of art media and entertainment as a vehicle for conscious awareness, transformation and evolution.

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Guest Blog On Writing….

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”  ― Jane Goodall

I believe that we are all born with a unique mission, to fulfill our part in the grand scheme of things and we are born with the talents and flaws to help us fulfill that mission.

When I look at artists or people with any kind of talent, I believe that they see, taste, smell, hear the world around them differently, their senses are more heightened and therefore their experience is extraordinary and also very personal. 

Take that and the environment they grew up in, the trials and tribulations they suffered and hopefully overcame and put that all in the mix and you get a hothouse for creativity, expression and sometimes genius. In a way these abilities helps them survive their childhood or transcend perceived limitations and embrace unique paths if they choose the road to becoming an artist.

May be Spirit makes them sensitive and more attuned to the world around them, so that they take all of that and make something of it; from the good and the bad, the joy and the sorrow; in a way that connects them with other people. 

When someone writes and sings of heartache, say for e.g. Dolly Parton’s song “ I will always love you “, the energies of that song find their resonance in you; wherever, whenever you have felt that sense of angst and loss. I believe that’s what all art attempts to do  – make a connection, make some meaning out of the madness, make you feel less alone.

"Music is to the soul what words are to the mind."- Modest Mouse

In Hindustani classical music Raagas are a combination of a series of notes that evoke a feeling or a mood. They can be very simple compositions and extremely complex ones that demand years of rigorous training and commitment. When lyrics are added, based and composed on a particular Raaga they become Bhajans/ songs/ Thumris etc.

  As is the centuries old tradition of music schools (Gharanaas) these compositions, were not taught by being written down somewhere but taught by ear- by listening and then singing. There were over 300 hundred Raagas but over centuries many have been lost and it is said that only about a 100 now remain in existence.

Each Raaga is meant to be sung only at a particular time of day to evoke the right mood, the right energies.

 It’s a fascinating and complex subject to study, the combination of the Swars (notes) that had the power to depict, express and evoke a particular emotion and mood.

The Sanskrit word rāga is defined as 'the act of colouring or dyeing' (the mind and mood/emotions in this context) and therefore metaphorically means 'any feeling or passion especially love, affection, sympathy, desire, interest, motivation, joy, or delight.'

Dilip Shankar an incredible teacher who taught me among other things, Hindustani Classical music, said to us about singing Ragas; “when we sing its not about being pitch perfect or sounding mellifluous but its about reaching these notes /energies that exist all around us in the universe, through our voices and expressing them as sincerely as possible”. My whole understanding of what music and singing are meant to do, under went a huge shift when I heard that for the first time.

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”
Edgar Degas

Just like music WORDS are powerful; we can hurt, maim, wound, admonish, evoke, inspire, heal, revolutionize, entice or create characters, creatures, afflictions, dimensions and other worlds by how we choose to use them.

I never pitched myself as a writer. Yet I’ve been writing about antique carpets for 10 years for my brother’s business.  I’ve edited books and articles, done more content writing than I would like to lay claim to and a whole lot of writing for other artists and about other art forms. I’ve written plays, some poetry and articles for magazines and yet I never saw myself as a writer, but as an actor who sometimes writes when the need arises. It was never my chosen path like acting or directing.

But when I committed to writing my blog something changed for me.

Gandhiji’s much used quote” Be the change you want to see” has been a huge driving force in my life.
Writing about what moves me or irks me in theatre, movies or advertisements in my country suddenly became an extension of what I have attempted to do on the stage as an actor or director- to affect change.

New Delhi (where I live most of the year) one of the oldest cities in the world, is the capital of the country, the seat of parliament, politics and power and it also has the highest rates of sexual assaults against women and considered the most unsafe city for women in Asia.

The Indian film industry is the largest producers of film in the world but in the last 20 years it has done little to help create change for women or spread awareness about our role in global warming and our relationship with the environment.

We all recognize the power that the media has today, be it through the Internet, TV, ads or films. To see how little of that is used to do more than mindlessly entertain or peddle the latest anti aging formula to a population that is still hugely uneducated, makes my blood boil.

I am very aware of the contradictions of my life that arise from being a woman living in a country with such a rich and diverse cultural & spiritual heritage that is growing into one the biggest democracies in the world, yet still living in a hugely patriarchal society where millions of women are still second rate citizens and have benefited little from the perks of the 21st century.

To be a woman of means and familial support in an unconventional choice of career, who is educated and independent offers a unique experience and point of view. More importantly it makes me realize the responsibility I have to use my talent, ability and opportunities wisely.

I write not just because I can but because I must.


Divya Chandra is the Director of BooGio11 Productions and member of the " Happy to Help Theatre Company". Divya's explorations have led her to the stage, to dancing, singing, theater movement, yoga and energy work. Divya works out of New Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, London and New York.

Divya's journey as an actor, director & playwright has given her a unique eye and an understanding in to the limitations we put on ourselves. As an actor, Divya is committed to work on projects that break the certified notions of glam and affectation prefixed with the profession, framing new foundations of transformative-mission oriented art. As a writer & director she aims to create work that transcends cultural confines in story-telling, co- creating opportunities for like-minded artists to explore and re-define ‘performance’ as a movement for self-discovery & empowerment. Divya has worked on several Indian and international projects,collaborating with directors, filmmakers and artists to create conscientious work escalating both the ‘self’ and societal awareness. Working with people from all ages and backgrounds, through her workshops she facilitates a more conscious connection with the self and helps participants tap and explore their aspirations and potential.

Where Spirit Meets Art

1 comment:

Rebecca Graf said...

Good luck on the tour. You're off to a good start.

Rebecca Graf - Pit Crew