‘Jaipur is a melting pot of art and culture. People here not only revere and love to explore their heritage but also are open to new music, ideas and concepts. The entire ecosystem of Jaipur which includes people and infrastructure along with the attitude of the business people here make it an ideal place for such events.’ –Prasoon Joshi
It is generally said that business and art seldom mix. People often feel that those who are adept in business cannot be accomplished artists and vice-versa. However, Prasoon Joshi who is not just a marketing guru but also an award-winning lyricist, poet and screenwriter loves to defy conventions and enjoy all that comes his way. We caught up with the man who believes that there is nothing more important than life itself at the Jaipur Literature Festival.
You are not just a marketing guru but also a lyricist, a poet and a screenwriter. How do you juggle so many hats at once?
I believe that we should try to do justice to the life that has been given to us. I really admire people like Asha ji (Asha Bhosle) who have been able to balance family, raise children and yet have a successful career. I too strive for the same thing. I have my aged parents who live with me and I love taking care of them. I believe we need to first fulfil our responsibilities towards other people and then towards ourselves. So, if you have a dream, a talent or an ambition, go after it by all means but don’t forget your responsibilities and the people who love you or are dependent on you.
These days a lot of people talk about battling inertia, stagnation? How does one counter that?
I don’t understand these words. Where is inertia? Where is stagnation in life? The thing is we are looking at very narrow definition of the word engagement. People think engagement is just about work or projects. No, the truth is engagement is about life. You may not be doing well professionally but you can always find engagement in your personal life, with your family members, with the people you love. When I am not working, I love talking to my daughter, travelling with her, helping her to do her homework. Engagement can be anything. To me, engagement is collecting memories. My grandmother was a village woman who did not start her education till the age of 19. Then she studied and retired as the principal of a school. Look around you, life is thriving. There is no dearth of things to do. All you need to do is to broaden your perspective and listen to your heart.
What about writer’s block? How do you deal with it?
You just need to shift your focus to something else. Stop getting stuck in a place. Move on and it will pass with time.
How do you get your ideas or inspiration?
Ideas have a life of their own. They will come to you, provided you have the right intent and vibrations. If you are in the creative zone, sooner or later you will get great ideas!
What do you say to yourself when you look at the mirror first thing in the morning?
Actually, I don’t really look at the mirror except when I am stepping out of the house. I like to look at the stars, the sky, the flowers and the grass. Nature is the biggest motivator for me because as all know, I have spent my entire childhood in the lap of nature in Uttarakhand. So, whenever I need energy or inspiration, nature rejuvenates me, inspires me and makes me feel truly alive. My music is inspired from nature. I love pahadi music, the feelings and emotions it imbibes in the listener.
Do you ever talk to yourself?
I love talking to myself because I believe that is how I am able to sort myself out. In fact, I have quite a pronounced dialogue with myself. I penned down all the conversations that I have with myself in first book that I wrote Main aur Woh (Me and Myself). I think it is important to talk to yourself because that helps in sorting out your feelings and emotions and even get an inner connect. These days we are so busy talking and chatting on social media, mobiles and phones that we have forgotten to talk to ourselves. We are no longer in touch with our own feelings and emotions which is why the youth of today have such issues with relationships. If you do not have a relationship with yourself, how will you have a relationship with others?
Music has travelled in time from gramophones to cell phones. What do you think is the next phase of music?
The term music has become quite broad. What do you define as music? You have songs, then remixes, words without music (rap). Right now, the definition of music encompasses almost everything. Somehow, I feel the next phase of music will be utter chaos. I was telling Gulzar saab the other day that he and his generation of poets and song writers had more meaningful and beautiful words to choose from as compared to today’s world. Today, people are resorting to short forms, shrinking and mutilated words. Sometimes, I simply hate the kind of songs that are written today. Even with music too, we will probably not know what is music and what is not music. However, after this chaos, the audience will start rejecting the bad music and they will start searching for melody and rhythm again. Now that our planet is more or less a global village, the interaction of world cultures will also impact music to a large extent. You will get to hear more fusion music and amalgamations that will be in a class of their own. Moreover, festivals like these will increase since people will also crave for authentic and pure music, books and arts.
What’s your favourite food?
Food is a memory device. I love what my grandma used to make. It is called Churkani and it is made from black soyabean dal and rice. The taste and smell remind me of my home in Uttarakhand. However, I am not fussy about food. When I was a child, I was not given a choice about what I could eat or not eat. We ate whatever my mother cooked. She cooked seasonal vegetables and food which she felt would be nutritious for us. We were not allowed to waste food. My parents always told me to be grateful for food because there are many people who do not even get two square meals a day! I am not a foodie but I do like to try the local foods of the places I visit to understand the culture of the place.
What is your favourite colour?
I like all kinds of colours like green, blue, white and black. I am not very fussy about clothes. If I like something, like a shirt, I buy five. I don’t like thinking much about clothes and prefer if someone just gives me something to wear. I like many colours but when it comes to wearing clothes, I like black and darker colours because it allows me to look always dressed.
What is your favourite day of the week?
I love Mondays since I can go to work. I love working.
What is your favourite destination?
I love travelling but mountains will always remain my favourite destination.
Why do you think Jaipur is becoming a focal point of most art and cultural activities whether it is music or literature?
Jaipur is a place which provides an unbiased and non-judgemental platform which respects every artist. It is also a melting pot of art and culture. People here not only revere and love to explore their heritage but also are open to new music, books, ideas and concepts. The entire ecosystem of Jaipur which includes people and infrastructure along with the attitude of the business people here make it an ideal place for such events.
This article was published in Rashtradoot’s Arbit on 21 February 2021.
Published Author, Poet and Youtuber