"It's only for a section of society. The masses can't really relate to it."; "It's extinct."; "I don't know anything about that. But I can talk to you about Jazz, if you want." Talk about Classical Music and Dance and these are the replies you get from the people of the country, supposedly so rich in heritage and culture. Boasting to have strong traditional and cultural roots, our country has always called itself the land of arts. Unfortunately, the very same country lives in an irony today as its classical arts face an abandonment from the masses. "Who is to be blamed?" is the big question.
India claims to be the land of art and culture. Yet sadly, if we look at the present scenario, we find hardly anyone with genuine interest or genuine understanding of the Classical arts. Having lost the sheen they held, they have apparently also lost the audience and vice versa. "It's all about westernisation. We live in a society that apes Americans and Europeans. Classical Arts aren't the only things that we have given up due to the Western influence," says Kriti Malhotra, who has been learning music for the past 4 years.
And now we do what we do every time our culture is attacked. We complain and blame westernisation process. Contrastingly countries like Europe and America, which Indians continually criticise for their lack of ethnicity, provide much more cultural re-enforcement to their citizen. Most east European countries have 24 hour channel solely dedicated to their arts and culture. In our case, we have DD Bharti, which inspite of the list of talented A-grade performers and government funding have failed to attract viewer ship. A few months back when DD Bharti's transmission was made compulsory, most cable operators were not even aware of it. "What could we do? There is no demand for it, whatsoever," says a Cable Operator.
Doordarshan started out as thinking person's channel with special and interesting shows based on various cultural arts. But since the entry of Private television, the approach followed by DD Bharti has been confused and random as the channel faces stiff and over bearing competition from it's private counterparts.
In the year 2007, out of an annual budget estimate of Rs. 2,54,041 crores, The Ministry of Culture was given a mere Rs. 5 crores initial grant for their cross-cultural projects. Inspite of being one of the most populous countries in the world, The Planning Commission of our country has allocated a mere .5 percent of the budget to culture and arts. Out of Prasar Bharati's annual budget of Rs. 2,000 crores, DD Bharati got a measly Rs. 14 crores in 2003. This goes on to highlight the hypocritical nature of those who brag about their cultural supremacy, while they do absolutely nothing to sustain it.
"The sad part is that the artists lack governmental support, as such. Only if you have contacts at the top notch places, can you think about a stable career ahead, " says a dancer who wishes to not be named.
Talk to any Official from Doordarshan and they harp on about being public service providers. "We can't show over-the-top shows which the people can't relate to. Classical Dance and music are supposed to be very classy, we can't show something that is against the mood of the program concerned," says a senior official who doesn't wish to be named.
But the quality and the packaging are of low. India is a society riding high on consumerism. Until and unless it is packaged well and presented well, they won't be chosen over the likes of reality TV shows. Especially lately, the content of the programs has deteriorated terribly. Sneha Chakradhar, a Proffesional Dancer and student of Geeta Chandran's Natya Vriksha, "It's a consumer market and you can't expect people to watch a show that is not packaged well. Their shows lack finesse. And thus, fail to attract a good audience."
"We have a large amount of in-house programming and what we receive from the Doordarshan...
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