The Disciple

By Chaitanya Tamhane

🌱 2021-11-22

rough notes

How much of making art is rooted in deeply held traps?

Is art worth anything if no one is looking?

Watched The Disciple by Chaitanya Thamhane where the protagonist is in pursuit of mastering North Indian classical music. But, he wants to do it the “right” way.

The “right” way of achieving success is a bridge every artist has to cross. Do we make artwork for gaining the respect of our peers and mentors? Are they the ones that will authenticate our art? Or, is having 10k people raving about what you made a mark of success.

In the movie, the protagonist keeps listening to these lectures made by an old teacher. His Guru’s guru. She talks about having a single minded monk-like approach to making art. But, we find out later on that she was a bigot and racist.

Most of the names of these “pure” artists are forgotten by the “public”. Is the disengagement of the public with an esoteric medium their fault. Is the love of the medium enough or does it require slavish devotion on becoming the best.

Deeply rooted in all these mediums is idol worship. A need for heroes. Where we lift people to mythological stature to then line ourselves with them. Where we fill our heads with their words.

There is a constant undercurrent in the movie about patience in the pursuit of art. With every corner pulling our attention, this pursuit is filled with quicksands of despair. Without redefining success for ourselves, we will have nothing but failure left.

In Brahmanical arts like classical music, these mythos of the Guru, the medium and “purity” of the pursuit becomes pronounced. Where knowledge is guarded and passed only to select few. It becomes easy to become a “true believer” in your medium and dismiss all others.

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