Today the whole paradigm is shifting from the performer to what is happening behind the stage. So, it’s not what is happening in Indian Premier League but what is happening behind the scenes (Who is paid what? Who gets to comment?). It’s not what is happening at Euro cup, but how and where the fans are clashing. It’s not about music but what the singers like Kayne West and Kim Kardashian are doing. It’s about why Justin Bieber – that chap who sings like a woman – and Selena Gomez split. It’s not about the movies anymore but what the stars did, how often they had sex, what they said after breaking up about the “silly ex.”
So, also in literature – since this is a passion – we are interested in Where Rushdie and Lakshmi holidayed and what they ate and wore. Our literature festivals are hardly festivals where people go to hear authors and ask questions. (I am assuming that they do read books.) The authors, faux authors I may add, who may have written a book ten years ago, or a celebrity who had her biography ghost-written, a la Monica Lewinsky, comes and pontificates about literature. And the true literature lover drools at the star value on display, the humour, the smart repartee. The audience gets talked down to, and when they want to ask a legitimate question they are told to shut up – had this experience – and told to take the conversation back stage. Only, the conversation backstage never happens.
In the interregnum, in this melee of sorts, the real artistic talent, or sportsperson gets sidelined. It’s always how much money was bet and how much made. Artistic talent is ignored. Therefore is it legitimate to develop artistic talent? Yeah, why not write a nonsensical book and spend a couple of millions hiring spin doctors and internet marketers to sell it. And fall in love with a celebrity of sorts and then break up and have the press writing vitriol about your sex life? Else, why not write a scathing caricature of a megalomaniac political leader and get a blackened face? Ah, you have made it my boy! Brilliant!
That’s what we are secretly aspiring for, aren’t we?