Oct 25, 2012

India's Got Talent... And Then What???

I have been following the latest season of India's Got Talent on Colors. Some of the talents exhibited have left me spellbound and awestruck. Not to mention the wannabe 'I have Talent too' kinds who leave me wanting to surf channels.

Some of my favourites include the aerial acts performed by Circus artists Tania and Mukesh, the top-view act put up by the group that calls themselves Talent Scan, Acrobatic Boys and their super cool stunts, Toshan Nongbet - the Opera Singer from Shillong and Air Group that left me in the dark, literally :). These and a few others, including the archers and the magicians, were absolutely brilliant.

It is a pleasure to watch these people personify talent, without any frills attached like in the movies. Everything happens for real without any special effects, stunt replacements etc. It actually makes me want to whisper 'India's Got Talent' at the end of each show!

However, there's a flip side to all this. This show and several similar other ones play a huge role in showcasing the wealth of talent our fellow Indians have. Though it makes me proud I am also left wondering why we have been unable to harness these talents and skills and 'take it to the next level'.

Almost every judge on every reality talent contest aired on TV uses the cliched term 'take it to the next level' while commenting on performances. Sadly though this only translates to doing even better in the next episode of their show. I am left wondering why this next level is limited to the airtime of these reality shows and never beyond that. When there is so much talent why do we not see it being represented internationally? Why do we end up applauding ourselves secretly? Why are we not screaming out loud about the numerous talents we can proudly boast about?

During the Olympics, there were articles about how China has rigorous and inhuman training schools for little kids to learn and master Gymnastics. We need not be as medal-hungry as that. However, it hurts to see how we are wasting a whole lot of talent. It hurts to see how we yearn for miracles to happen at the Olympics. It hurts to see that we return home counting our medals on our fingertips while others have gone way past three digit figures. Is it not ashaming, given the billion mark that we have crossed??

What is it then that leaves us behind? Training? Fitness? Sponsorship? Talent itself???

I am sure we all agree that we have a power packed storehouse of talents amongst us. What is missing really is recognizing it, harnessing it, nurturing it and literally, taking it to the next level.

Archery is something that is prevalent and associated with India right from the mythical eras of Ramayana and Mahabharata. What makes it impossible for us to earn some confident wins then at the Olympics? Why do we have to have our fingers crossed and wish for Lady Luck to play her part each time an Indian archer sets his arrow off the bow?? In one of the talent show episodes, I watched a group of amateur archers wowing the judges and audiences with their bow and arrow antics. They were nearly brilliant and got mixed responses from the judges. They may eventually get voted or buzzed out of the show. But their talent remains. Is someone watching? Someone who can help them take it to the next level?

Most of the participants come from small villages. The boys of Acrobatic Boys belong to a small town in Haryana. Each of their parents are daily wage labourers. Earning enough for two square meals for the family is itself a challenge. It is impossible for these helpless parents to empower their children with professional training in a sport as elite as Gymnastics. However this ambitious and determined group has come together and somehow formed a team that learns gymnastics and helps others learn it too. Very basic infrastructure coupled with the desire to excel has kept them going so far. They dream to flip and vault at the Olympics some day. But is that possible? Circus artists Tanya and Mukesh twist and turn like they have no bones. They have spent years captivating audiences at Gemini Circus. But will they ever get an applause at the 'next level'?? Are we playing blind to the very obvious fact that these bundles of talent can potentially win India medals at the Olympics? The Chinese were termed inhuman for what they are doing. What do we have to say to what we are doing?

I have my fingers and toes crossed for magic to happen. For some bottled genie to help these dreams turn into reality.

The obvious genie would be our Government. But sadly though its full of self obsessed demons and monsters. Expecting genie-like magic from them is too far-fetched an expectation. I think it makes more sense to leave them clear their own mess and for us to do our own thing.

Maybe huge brands can spot upcoming talent and sponsor them to train better and win accolades. I am sure creating a Saina Nehwal or MS Dhoni is more rewarding than using an already established Saina or Dhoni to flaunt their products.

Maybe the judges on these shows could do their bit too. Maybe the celebrity stars who make special appearances on these shows to promote their latest flick and appreciate talent (in that order) could do their bit to make their appearance literally 'special'. Parting with hard-earned money may not come easily to anyone as an individual. So it would be unfair to expect that these stars make monetary contributions to encourage talent. But maybe they could pick on a couple of talents and decide to be their brand ambassadors for free. May not bring them life-long product supplies. But it could mean the world to our caged talents. Publicity for these small starlets could attract bigger organizations, creating an opportunity for monetary backing too. I am not saying money is everything, however we cannot deny the fact that it is the money that can help buy better training, better fitness and more importantly a chance to compete as equals with others across the world.

In our own way we could possibly help by popularizing these talents as much as we can. A recent example I could think of is PSY's Gangnam style. He is all over the internet, language playing no barrier. It would be unjust for someone like me to comment on dancing, given the fact that I was born with two left feet. But I would still risk it and go on.  I am sure any real dancer would agree that PSY's dance moves are not the prettiest of moves. Without the music and the lyrics you would have possibly passed off his moves to be clumsy and weird. What makes it a hit is the that it's simply catchy as a package... catchy enough to be the the latest 'most viewed video on YouTube'. Very similar to the Kolaveri craze we experienced couple of months ago.

Maybe we could play our part by identifying talents that deserve to be nurtured and publicize them by helping them attract eyeballs on the Internet. With so many social networking tools at our disposal, all it would take is a a few clicks here and there. Once it becomes a craze online, the rest will only follow.

The more people viewing these talents will only help spread the word, attract potential sponsors and make it catchy too. And who knows... we may see the Carribean boys celebrate their next T20 World Cup Win Party with some acrobatic stunts and magical illusions :)

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