By Prashant Jha:
“Ek bangla bane nyara” – These words from a song from the 1937 film “President” is probably a dream all of us have. Everyone wants to build or buy a beautiful house for themselves. But what if someone has dreamt of a house that’s open to those looking for shelter? Meet Jaipur’s Nimisha Verma who’s building something really unique called the ‘Home for Artist’.
She wanted to live her life on her own terms, wanted to choose a career of her choice, wanted to study Visual Arts, wanted to write, and model and all of this was reason enough to piss her parents off. That is exactly what happened, and Nimisha was left with only one thing that she could do – leave home so that she could make something of herself. Nimisha was only 19 when she left her parents’ house with her brother Sudhanshu and started her journey of turning her dreams into reality. This was when the foundation stone for ‘Home for Artists’ was laid.
Youth Ki Awaaz spoke to Nimisha about her unique idea and all that she did to make it a reality.
Prashant Jha (PJ): Where did you get the idea for ‘Home for Artists’?
Nimisha Verma (NV): When I left home last year with Sudhanshu, things weren’t easy. We didn’t know where to go. For four days, we didn’t have a roof over our heads. We wandered from one place to another looking for a place. We were asked all kinds of questions. They asked us, “What’s the point of living in a different place if your parents live in the same city?”, “Are you really guys really brother and sister?”, “How will you pay the rent if you click pictures for a profession?” Even if people agreed, they would ask for an exorbitant security deposit that Sudhanshu and I couldn’t afford to pay. We somehow found ourselves a room with help from a few people. I will never be able to forget those four days of my life. I had decided right then that I would make a place that all artists who had gone through similar times, could call home. So that every time an artist left home to chase their dreams they could concentrate on their art instead of worrying where they were going to spend the night.
PJ: What was your plan after the idea struck you? I’m sure it would not have been easy to work on an idea that was so different.
NV: I went with the idea to many places and many cities. I met a lot of artists and told them about my idea. With time ‘Home for Artists’ went from being a dream I had to something I became very passionate about. When you’re dedicated to something, you gather all the courage, face all obstacles to achieve your goal. Now I have an answer to whoever asks me what I do life.
PJ: The ease with which you’re talking about it, I’m sure you must have had to go through a lot to make ‘Home for Artists’ possible.
NV: When you get things easily you often don’t value it and after I left home and while I set ‘Home for Artists’ up, I realised the value of the most basic things (food, friends, clothes, etc.) in life.
For me, the biggest challenge was to convince my family. They were against me doing anything new and different. The reason for opposing my ambitions was simple – they were, like all other parents, afraid of their child’s failure.
I know the pain of living and eating alone and sometimes not having eaten at all. It troubles me a lot when I think of how misunderstood artists are in our society. We don’t encourage those students who’re studying a certain form of art. I was also one of those students. I had decided that I would do something for myself. Even though things are not that smooth all the time, sometimes there’s not enough food to eat or we can’t stay at one place for too long, but we’re happy about the fact that we’re doing what makes us happy.
PJ: Now that things are getting better, how do you feel or what do you think about the journey, the experience?
NV: At ‘Home for Artists’ we are both students and teachers. Here, every artist is free to live as they wish to. Artists have the freedom to do what they like at all times. They live here, paint, cook, write, and sing while they dance. Like I said, they are free to do all they want. We learn a lot from each other’s art too. We often go and meet other artists and speak to them. So what’s important is not how much we are earning from our art but how much we are living it.
PJ: How difficult or easy is it to do something that’s not conventional?
NV: The moment you choose art as your career, you start fighting for acceptance and equality. Our country is extremely diverse; there’re so many things that one can do, but even then we don’t have the freedom or the choice to do what we want. If you have noticed, a lot of women have their husbands’ name tattooed on their arms, and that’s accepted and welcomed, but when a stranger looks at someone like me who has a lot of tattoos, they give that ‘I’m-judging-your-character’ look.
We really enjoy when we see stars in cinema theatres or on the television but the moment children want to opt for theatre or dance as their career then the reaction completely changes.
PJ: What is one day in ‘Home for Artists’ like? How does it work?
NV: We are a family that’s beyond the limits of age and time. We meditate every morning and cook after that. After we eat, we go on to practice our respective arts. We welcome new artists and travellers to ‘Home for Artist’ every day, who share their stories and experiences with us.