Despite being settled overseas, the Tamil diaspora loves to recreate the life they left behind in India. Here’s a glimpse of their lives, celebrations and struggles on foreign shores.
Music shows, discussions, discourses, professional advice and debates conducted right from the homes yet reaching a wider audience has become the order of the day. Many social media pages are now turning to be entertainment centres, featuring live performances. WhatsApp groups are now flooded with amateur artists sending out the video clips of their art forms. The entertainment industry has not been able to roll out their new productions in the past months across the world and this has actually opened opportunities for new and budding artists to sell themselves out, feel many. Staying home many have alone time available for creative engagement and the no-cost option for a venue and other logistics have made reaching the outside world impressive.
“For the first time, being on the social media is paying me rewards,” said a sixty-year-old resident of New Jersey who has never been so active on the social media platforms. He continues to say that at a time we are not able to move out of the house, it is interesting to watch many young artists coming out with their display of art forms. “I recall the wonderful performance of a 13-year-old boy on the violin all by himself and I was able to wish him well in the chat window. This is a connection I would have never been able to make in normal time,” he said adding: “I am now encouraged to make my performance available as well in this medium.”
Many senior artists from India have been hosting their personal talk shows and performances that are very engaging. The weekends are nicely spent simply by browsing our social media pages, said another resident. “Several senior performing artists from India are now available on their Facebook pages and interacting with them one on one has become possible more than ever,” said a young budding musician from New York. “Staying in the US, we never had opportunities to meet them or connect with them like now ever before,” he added.
With fewer opportunities for everyone to otherwise get engaged, even celebrities are now more often available for the social media audience. “I would not have imagined listening to Sudha Raghunathan or Ranjani Gayatri week after week making this much personal connection, said a rasika. All these are going to be rewarding in the years to come both for the artist and the rasikas.
July-August is usually the summer months that favour moving out and having vacation fun. With most parts of the US now crippled with the pandemic fear and none of the major vacation plans being implementable, the online modes of connections seem to be the only viable engagement. Indian immigrants usually plan elaborate Bharatanatyam arangetrams and music performances during this time. “It used to be such a grand festival to attend to all the nice performances in person and it will be especially thrilling to watch the children from our own neighbourhood, born and brought up in the US, display such matured art forms of India with eloquence. All these in-person shows are now put on hold. But it’s nice to see many of the online shows by local artists picking up their place,” said a long-time resident of California.
Art teachers, be it dance, music, instrumentalists or painting and handcrafts specialists, are all making opportunities for their students to showcase their talents through the online platform now. Weekends in the pre-COVID era used to be so busy for these teachers as they have the performances of their students booked for the events organised in temples and cultural associations regularly. With such options being closed now, the online concerts and shows have taken a front seat. The spirit of upholding the art display thus continues. Many organisations are using the online platform to connect and help in fundraising activities as they showcase the talents of local US artists as well.
This time the artists are lone performers who bank just on their talent. There is an assured audience readily available to encourage fresh and old talents alike. The newer horizons of showcasing talents have clearly helped writing the new rule books. A positive trend is clearly visible in the field of art. This could possibly move into a post COVID phase where ‘art for art’s sake’ could be reestablished. The lookout for elaborate organisations and logistics are bypassed here. The audience base is truly global. The life of these online shows is much longer than live shows as the social media links are ever available for later viewing and in most cases they are easily shareable with the target audience. There may not be tickets or money involved in the online shows during the pandemic times, but the satisfaction of being an artist and being able to reach the global audience of art lovers is made easier than ever before. An added benefit is to distract ourselves from the pain inflicted by the pandemic. Surely, for the talented ones, a new viable opportunity of showcasing their art forms that can be well packaged and displayed as well as be well received is becoming a reality.
— The writer is a journalist based in New York