My National

My National

From struggle comes art

  |  November 25, 2013

I recently met Emirati filmmaker Majid Abdulrazak, who I dubbed the Emirati Takeshi Kitano. For anyone who doesn’t know, Takeshi Kitano is a highly acclaimed renowned Japanese director, actor and screenwriter who is also renowned for his ventures into film editing, comedy, singing, poetry, designing a psychedelic video game and a lot more. The terrifying-but-funny Takeshi’s Castle included.

Majid Abdulrazak is probably the missing link between Kenneth Brannagh and Takeshi Kitano, with a philanthropic investor thrown in for good measure. I was amazed by the staggering amount of time, effort, passion and money he puts into his films – and that he succeeds, despite megalithic obstacles.

I’ve been hoping to get a band together to produce an album of my own songs. But I often worry about having the time and money to teach a backing band the songs, pay them, and then pay a producer. While I find the time to write, and practice, it is really hard to take it to the next level when you’ve been working all day and commuting.

Majid puts me to shame. The amount of time and money it takes to make a film, one that looks good enough to be screened across the country, dwarfs that of an album. So to hear that he actually got it done for Dh3 million and in only two years was, pardon the lame pun, music to my ears.

The struggles he endures as an Emirati filmmaker are apparent in my original piece. An obscure question it raises though, one that animator Oliver Acker (http://www.thenational.ae/uae/uae-artists-who-are-drawn-to-animation) also explicitly raises, is the relationship between art and struggle. Oliver says an artist has to suffer on the path to greatness. For transparancy’s sake, I have to say I agree.

There’s different types of struggle. One, the most superficial but perhaps most widespread, is financial strife. Most of us can relate to it; simply not having enough to buy what you want, or need. In music, the blues largely stemmed from this, and another basic form of suffering: heartbreak. And to put it simply, I challenge anyone to detract from the importance and relevance of the blues to the evolution of modern popular music, and culture. It’s one of the purest forms of expression, and as widely varied in its delivery as its chord progressions are limited.

Hearbreak falls under the larger form of psychological and emotional suffering. Whether it's manic depression, or just being a bit sad, attempting to overcome this teaches one to re-evaluate their views of the outside world, their roles within it, and their own internal nature, too. Actively changing one’s paradigms, and growing, are parts of the process. I feel this learning experience is integral to calculated art. It heightens one’s empathy, takes away a lot of biased preconceptions, gives profound wisdom and opens one up to exploring new ideas in new ways.

And that is what art is really about – new forms of expressing mostly timeless ideas. If anyone knows that, I’m sure Majid – whose just released a tragedy film involving a double love triangle, a ghost, religion and comedy – knows it.