“From my own point of view, the way that hope can be made useful is when it’s not connected to an expected success – when it starts to be something different from optimism – because when you start trying to think ahead into the future from the present point, rationally there isn’t much room for hope. When hope is separated from concepts of optimism and pessimism, from a wishful projection of success or even some kind of a rational calculation of outcomes, then I think it starts to be interesting – because it places it in the present.”
– Brian Massumi
Last year, I had the opportunity to work on a video documentation project for Music Basti, a Delhi-based project that enables children to learn music to nurture confidence and skills to achieve their best. Started in 2008 as an initiative to create fun musical experiences for vulnerable children, Music Basti has evolved over the years as an organisation that uses music as an active tool to nurture key life skills education. In partnership with several non-profits, Music Basti teaches in 13 centers across Delhi-NCR.
During my first meeting with children at Kapas Hera, I had a brief conversation with one of the staff members at Tarang Kala Kendra. “With how media sensationalises everything, it is difficult not to aspire to stardom,” we were discussing that some of the children with the programme dream of becoming singers, dancers and Bollywood sensations. Over the past few years, there has been a strong focus on enabling arts as a tool to impart life skills education – to build confidence and provide a space for young minds to express themselves. But with the current media set-up, where we are made to believe that one can find a way out by showcasing our skills on platforms like Indian Idol and India’s Got Talent, it is difficult not have expectations, to not dream big, to not see all of this as a chance to become successful artists. But, while growing up don’t most of us have a very narrow understanding of what it means to be successful?
‘Music Basti – Stories 2015’ features three children between the ages of 14-16 years, talking about their interests, who they are and what does a space like Music Basti means to them. The overarching theme in all the three videos is hope. They’re not about how these programmes help children achieve their dreams, but how such programmes provide creative opportunities for these children to believe in themselves.
There is always a sense of vagueness surrounding them, about where will they go or what they might achieve if they exit their present situation. Organisations like Music Basti, Tarang Kala Kendra, and Vidya exist within this uncertainty. Which can be empowering because, then, instead of projecting success and failure, it gives children a margin to experiment. This brings potential to their situations. Because rather than chasing the big idea of ‘success’, the focus is on experimentation, collaboration, and learning.
These films are about how platforms like Music Basti provide an opportunity for children to somehow cope with their current situation. Spaces where they can express their concerns, talk about their lives and, sing and write songs about it.
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