Yesterday evening saw 2 musical programmes being scheduled in Guwahati. We decided to head to the Pankaj Udhas concert over the Coke Music Studio with Leslie Lewis, as we thought it would be a slow mellow evening listening to the mesmerising voice of Pankaj Udhas.
Although, this had nothing to do with the performance itself. The invitation said 6:30pm, but introductory speeches started only at 7:00pm. The opening performance by Sunita Khound started only at 7:15pm, but it was fantastic and worth the wait. She is a gifted violin player and a wonderful vocalist. She played everything from ragas to item numbers on the violin.
Unfortunately, for her entire performance the lights were left on and the audience behaved as though they were at the GMC auditorium for a wedding and Sunita was just some background music. People were walking up and down the isles having loud conversations with one another, mobile phones wouldn't stop ringing and people just continued to pick up their calls and talk on the phones as though they were in their own homes.
So now added to the long "hello, how are you? good to see you" interactions with those coming in and the "good concert no? bye, see you tomorrow for lunch" interactions with those leaving and the mobile phones ringing and the one sided conversations on the phones, was added the tearing open of snack bags and the popping open of 500ml aerated drinks.
Annoyed looks at people around us loudly engaged on their mobile phones made absolutely no difference to them except perhaps to raise their decibel levels!.
With mobile phones these days everyone fancies themselves a photographer. I completely understand people taking pictures, and if the event permits it, I see no problem with that. BUT, at any event where the lights are dimmed over the audience, you DO NOT USE YOUR FLASH! Its irritating for anyone trying to enjoy the performance and for the performers themselves. Even the professional/newspaper photographers were guilty of using their blinding flash.
Pankaj Udhas said that he had been repeatedly coming back to Guwahati since 1983. Honestly, I can't think why. The audience was downright disrespectful and rude in their behavior. Hopefully he couldn't see and hear it on the stage, except perhaps when ALL the lights were turned on, so the CM could make an exit midway through the performance.
Repeated requests were made to the audience to not record Pankaj Udhas' performance. He himself made the request as it would contravene copyright issues and make things difficult for him. The ushers from Jettwings themselves were busy recording the performance, how could they have intervened to stop the rest of the audience that was doing so?
I thought that Delhi audiences were badly behaved when it came to live shows, Guwahati can be proud, they overtake the national capital in this one respect at least.
I was really shocked with this behavior. In general the average Assamese is polite and considerate except perhaps when on the road, behind a wheel and the occasional exception in the movie theatre. What I saw yesterday, defies all logic.
There is a general etiquette to be followed at any live show. Foremeost of which is:
RESPECT THE PERFORMER.
When it comes to a sit-down live show, then there are some basic guidelines to be followed.
1. Maintain silence as far as possible. The occasional turning to the person immediately next to you to ask "which raaga is this?" or "which movie is this from?" or "wasn't that a lovely movement by the tabla player" is fine. But it should only be audible to the 2 of you and not the person in front of you or to the other side of you.
2. Mobile phones HAVE to be turned off or on silent mode. Leave your phone on silent. You can always check messages and missed calls unobtrusively - in a way that the light from your screen does not disturb the people around you. If there is an emergency then quietly leave the auitorium and return the call outside. Do not start talking as you are walking, that is bad behavior too. And instructing the maid that Baba should eat 3 chapatis not 2 is NOT an emergency!
3. Do not bring toddlers to such events. If a child does not understand and obey "sit quietly", then they cannot be brought to such events. Wailing babies are definitely a no-no. Older children who you are trying to inculcate with a sense of culture and music is fine, if they understand "stay quiet" and if one of the adults in your group is willing to leave the auditorium once the child is restless or needs to go to a washroom.
4. No pictures, no flash. If the event allows you to take pictures, then go ahead and do so. If they request you not to, then don't. In darkened rooms, do not ever use your flash, it is blinding for others.
5. No food. Unless its supper theatre or a sit down dinner performance, its never ok to bring food into a performance hall. Some locations allow drinks to be carried inside and some do not. If the floor is carpeted, its not a good idea to dump your leftover garbage under your seat or the seat in front of you.
Respect and courtesy are the cornerstones of any community. Unless these 2 traits improve out here, I think we'd rather listen to Pankaj Udhas on our music system at home, than at a live concert as long as we live in Guwahati. At least we won't have to put up with the boorish behavior of people around us.