Transcending Genres: Prasoon Joshi and Vidya Shah in conversation at the Jaipur Literature Festival

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Hailed as the ‘greatest literary show on Earth’ and the ‘Kumbh of Literature’, the Jaipur Literature Festival 2021, began yesterday with an insightful conversation between Prasoon Joshi, poet, songwriter, and Chairman of the Central Board of Film Certification, and musician and scholar Vidya Shah. 

The duo explored interrelated genres of Indian music during a session titled Across Genres: Classical, Folk, and Popular Music. They discussed the importance of understanding, feeling, and getting lost in the beauty of music and art and delved into how the world would change if people really began to understand the importance of art.

“A person who makes art is important, but a seeker of that art is equally important. Art is beyond communication. These days, we have become too obsessed with the message. Maybe there is no message, and just losing yourself in the moment is all you need,” said the award-winning lyricist.

He also spoke of the struggles and limitations of a songwriter due to a shrinking lexicon. “I recently said to Gulzar Sahab that the usage of beautiful and meaningful words has decreased from his generation to mine. I have fewer words now to convey my message. During his time, he had more words to describe and convey what he felt because people understood the meaning of those words.

Vidya Shah echoed his thoughts and spoke of the importance of being attentive to the message while listening to music. She said, “The sheer range of emotions and the possibilities that listening to music can offer are immense. If we allow ourselves to submerge into that experience, the world will be a much better place.” 

Speaking about folk music, he said that it has the sense of the collective and is the work of the collective. “No one can lay a singular claim to it. The shine in folk music reflects the collective,” Joshi said, explaining how the finesse of folk music is a work of generations of artists. Many of our traditions are alive due to folk music, he added, explaining how there are songs that depict different occasions and values.

Together, the two, who often broke into little renditions of musical compositions to elaborate on one idea or another, threw light on the cultural diversity as well as the intrinsic unity of this vast heritage and its new offshoots.

The Jaipur Literature Festival 2021 will take place till 28th February on an exclusive virtual platform.

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