Art doesn’t have gender, caste, or religion, and perhaps that is why there is a proverb in Hindi that says “Artists ke Jaat Nehi Hote” which means, an artist doesn’t have any such tags. As Indian musicians, we believe that music is a universal language that transcends all boundaries.
However, in India, there is a general perception of some art forms. Dance is often seen as a feminine pursuit, while percussion instruments such as Tabla or Mridangam, or Ghatam are viewed as masculine pursuits.
Renowned Indian musician, Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma, believes that "Music has no gender. It is the soul of the artist that connects with the listener."
Interestingly, some of the maestros in Indian classical dance are men such as Kathak maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj or Kuchipudi dance maestro Raja Reddy, and many more. Even in Indian films, there are several accomplished male dancers such as Kamal Hassan or Hrithik Roshan. However, when it comes to giving training in such performing arts to children, there is still a gender bias among parents.
Acclaimed Indian musician and composer, A.R. Rahman, once said, "Music has no boundaries, it is the universal language of mankind."
Malhaar Center for Performing Arts in Dubai is trying to break such barriers. Malhaar is the biggest Indian performing arts training and collaboration hub in the UAE. Malhaar has successfully introduced Indian performing arts as a compulsory subject in primary school curriculums in several schools in Dubai. Students are learning Hindustani vocal music, Tabla, Kathak, Bharatanatyam, and many more. The idea is to catch them young and train these young minds with beautiful art forms. The idea is to tell parents that art can’t be just a hobby, but a must part of the lifestyle. It is as important as mathematics or science to learn.
Indian musician, Ustad Zakir Hussain, once said, "Art knows no gender. Creativity knows no gender. Let us celebrate art in all its diversity."
With these thoughts, when we started this mission, we soon realized that there is a gender bias in some art forms among parents. Whereas young students don't understand such baggage that we, adult minds, pick up unknowingly.
As Indian musicians, we hope that the world will continue to break these gender barriers in the arts and appreciate the beauty of all forms of art, regardless of the artist's gender. #BreakTheBias, towards a gender-equal world!
To read more about, UAE: First-of-its-kind all-girls Tabla ensemble launched by Malhaar in Dubai, click here: