As the world is still grappling with the multiple lockdowns and isolation measures following the Corona outbreak, it has provided people with ample time to do what they love most. Now more than ever, one can hear people confessing, “this is what I’ve always wanted to do”. Young budding artists, taking it as a mantra, are doing their bit to ease off the collective pressure. After all, it’s about turning to art and finding solace in it.
While many enjoy being a couch potato, others are putting their creativity out on social media, sans the frills, packaging and slick marketing. They’re spending time revisiting their dusty poems that were left incomplete, long-forgotten sketchbooks or simply making Tik-Tok videos — exploring all wonderful ways of passing the time and showcasing one’s talents. Others are channelling their time and energy into giving birth to newer forms of art, music, dance and literature.
Art unites people in times of disaster and death, which is exactly what has been happening as the world is coming to terms with this pandemic. Since March, as work from home became the new norm, many artists have started engaging themselves with their art in a possibly different manner.
Aaliya Ilyasi, 22, a young makeup artist, started working long back when she was studying in school. As lockdown restrictions were imposed all over the country and women were not able to visit parlours, she decided to prepare a well-revised schedule for uploading makeup videos on social media, “First I only used to post videos on Instagram as it’s easier to upload on it. Then most of my friends suggested that I start my own YouTube channel to reach a wider audience,” says Aaliya.
It was in April this year that she started her youtube channel by the name Aaliya Ilyaslay which now has 400 subscribers and 4K followers on Instagram. “For me, makeup is an art. I don’t do it for show up, but I like the process and love doing it,” she adds, who is pursuing a degree in Development Communication from Jamia Millia Islamia.
Apart from working as a beautician, she has been blessed with a soulful voice too. Before the lockdown, she used to sing in her college programmes, but now, since everything is shut, she has been using social media as a platform to nurture her talent. She records and puts up songs as often as possible.
For Unnati Khubyani, a Delhi-based artist, the current lockdown has brought her hands back to the art she had left three years ago. To ease the mental pressure she was going through; she had started to paint and sketch.
“Three years ago, I used to sketch and paint, but with a busy college schedule, I didn’t have the time to do it anymore. Since the lockdown was announced, I took out my brushes and sketching board that was buried under the layers of dust in a corner of my home and started sketching again,” says Unnati.
For Unnati, art isn’t about painting pictures, but it’s something that takes away her anxiety, aches, dread and lets her come face to face with her hidden creative instincts. “No matter how amateur you are, you should try pouring colours and paint on a blank sheet. It feels productive to see and share your work. I always wanted to be an artist — painting feeds my soul — but life happened and I ended up pursuing a media course,” she adds.
She is completing her Masters in Journalism from Jamia Millia Islamia. As she drew her first painting after three years and shared it with her family and friends, messages poured in on her social media profiles from different corners of the country: “you’re an artist”, “we’re proud of you”, and it gave her extra motivation.
From being inspired by others to acknowledging things around us and representing them in the form of poetry, Kashif Shakeel, a 23-year-old young talent, finds his inspiration in the works of poets like Habib Jalib and Sahir Ludhianvi.
His interest in writing poetry started as early as the 10th Standard. Earlier, he used to write whatever crossed his mind, but as time passed, he worked on his skills and has been able to send some of them for publication too. “From my school days itself I used to read all the famous poets that had long died, but I personally think there hasn’t been a greater revolutionary poet than Habib Jalib,” said Kashif.
On love poetry, he adds, “When it comes to the poets who have written on love and life, Sahir Ludhainavi’s description of love always touches my heart. I think everyone can read Sahir, but reaching the depths of his poetry is not everyone’s job.” As most people write openly about love and life, his poetry, in particular, is based on things which contribute to one’s life but are too subtle to be acknowledged — things like pens, clothes, pencils etc.
Recently, Kashif wrote a poem on “pen” in which he has portrayed it as: “Mujhe yaad bhi nahi hai, par shayad guzre baras ya mahiney usne mujhe dafnaa diya thaa, uske baste ke kissi kone mei pada raha cheekh raha thaa. Jadid takanikee ki bheed mei meri awaaz dabb chuki hai, Ab to jaise iss kaal kothri ki aadat si hogyi hai (I don’t exactly remember when, but I think years or months have passed since he buried me, I was yelling at him lying inside a corner of his sack. My voice was lost amidst the chaos of modern technologies, and now it feels like I’m habituated and acquainted to this darkness)”.
For Kashif, poetry is not merely a piece of paper-work. It’s an intuition whose every verse touches his heart and each verse itself is a poem. “Poetry is such a piece of literature whose every verse should go through your heart, but people will only love it with translation, poetry has its own language, the originality of poetry is its individuality,” describes Kashif.
As the current lockdown has put people into isolation, it has led to an increase in stress levels. People are suffering from mental illnesses. He suggests that people should go through the treasures of famous poets, which can, in a way, help ease their stress. As is said, when you hear out someone else’s pain, your own seems comparatively smaller.
“Whenever I talk to someone who is under some stress or any problem, I suggest that they go through the poems of famous poets. It seems that whatever possibly could be of human interest, mostly related to our daily lives — has been put to meaning by them, and when we read it all, our sky-high problems appear small,” he adds.
Currently, Kashif is making a visual document of all his poetic work, as for him, people are now more interested in visuals rather than reading poems.