Publication: Economic Times Delhi; Date:2006 Nov 14; Section:Business Of Brands; Page
It doesn’t get more creative than this!
THERE was a time when being creative was to sing, dance, draw, paint or at best, make films.
Only a few could do it. You had to be born talented, and the rest of the world watched and
admired. Occasionally, you also made money, but often your fortunes were inversely
proportionate to your creativity quotient. Newscasters, techies, engineers and cooks were not
creative. But if you were in advertising, you were certainly in a highly creative industry!
Not any more. Today, everyone is creative. And everyone makes money being creative.
Today, being creative is not appreciation of high art reserved for the few, but entertainment for
many. Today, creative endeavours start at an early age. Today, if you can link your creativity to
a social cause or everyday health, even better. And if you can ‘go global’ with your creativity…
well, that’s the best.
The young henna expert who charges Rs 3,500 to decorate a bride’s palms is creative. The
flair bartenders who do elaborate stunts with fire and flame are creative. The participants in the
Great Indian Laughter Challenge, the city rock bands, the theatre groups are creative. People
who devise game shows are most creative. RJs in FM radio stations are auditioned for clarity
and voice tone, musical expertise and—no surprise – creativity. Everyone who participated in
the largest drum ensemble is, surely, creative. Bhanumathi, the first woman puppet maker who
teaches puppetry, is creative. Jeeva, the travelling storyteller from Singapore to San Diego, is
surprisingly creative. The people who design scary experiences with disembodied hands, trap
doors and screams in mega malls are unusually creative. The boys and girls who work in
animation houses, that too for foreign films, are fantastically creative. Every housewife is
creative. Look at her curtain ideas, her kitchen cabinets, her navratri decorations and her diwali
gift packs. Just look at the classified column in your daily newspaper and you’ll know—eight-
year-olds who learn Tanjore painting, 12-year-olds who learn photography, and hundreds of
women who learn radium painting, jewellery making, candle making… are all creative.
With this democratisation of creativity as it were, comes a certain universality which goes
beyond fusion as we have traditionally known it. Anita Ratnam’s Bharatnatyam incorporates
Chinese martial arts. Another dancer conceptualises an Indo-Korean dance venture for the
Seoul Performing Arts Festival. The November Music Festival in Chennai this year will feature
Pakistani and German music, Syrian hymns in Aramaic, in addition to Abhangs and World Music.
Brhaddhvani, a research and training centre for traditional Carnatic music includes African
dances at its valedictory function.
An English play is staged with Carnatic music. Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is
enacted in six Indian languages—all at once, on the same stage. Post production, animation,
visual effects, fine arts, software, electronics, film, fashion, performing arts, art and craft,
gaming… all merge. Art, technology and innovation merge. Artists are combining painting with
photography, cartoons, linoloeum prints, sculpture, industrial junk, acrylic engraving, folk and
kitsch. A furniture shop announces a new range of furniture, which is a fusion of Vietnamese,
Chinese and French if you please.
In the light of all this, a tabla, vocalist and sarod player performing with a French band seems
almost tame. But what makes it interesting, is when a French classical band, performs to an
enraptured group of slum dwellers. Playing Beethoven and Bach to coolies, washerwomen and
children, who the news item tells us, hoot in delight.
And what makes it inspiring is when you hear of Werner Dornik, an Austrian artist, who has set
up an art school for leprosy patients who paint for four hours a day—some of them painting
with brushes fixed to their fingerless hands with rubber bands. They then share the money and
use it to help others like themselves.
And then there is art for health. Dance therapy that combines yogasanas, folk dance and
martial art for bulging midriffs, spondylitis, activation of liver and pancreas, mobilising insulin
and even sexual dysfunctions. And puppetry classes for introvert children. Of course, much has
Page 1 of 2It doesn’t get more creative than this!
been made of music therapy—elaborate how-tos in every other newspaper and magazine tell
you to have a bath, put on a headphone, light candles, lie down and listen to music, and focus
on the silences between notes.
And here’s the final testimony: the corporatisation of creativity! The Creative Future School at
IIM Bangalore calls for entries and 20 short-listed candidates get a chance to pitch their idea to
business investors in London. There is a global conference on Creative Economy. S G Vasudev
and 69 others in Bangalore get together to form Anunya Drishya, which engages school children
in Indian contemporary art education; and has, among other things, initiated a health care
programme for musicians. They report that corporate houses, clubs and colleges are beginning
to ask for art appreciation sessions. K K Raghava establishes Raw Umber India—an art
management firm to manage his art—which is sold with instruction manuals on how to take
care of them. Art is becoming corporate gift and brands are striking up relationships with artists
and their art.
And the ultimate: Finance minister P Chidambaram with Anjolie Ela Menon creates a painting
that will be sold to raise funds for an old age home in Gurgaon. Reserve price: Rs 20 lakh.
Democratisation, universalisation, socialisation, corporatisation! It doesn’t get more creative
than this! The only question is: how is the advertising industry planning to keep pace?
The author is vice-president & executive
planning director, JWT Chennai
Page 2 of 2It doesn’t get more creative than this!