An Artist's Demons

The highs and lows of being Piyush Mishra

01 November 2012
‘The Playback Singer’, where Mishra plays the titular role, is his first venture into western cinema.
COURTESY THE PLAYBACK SINGER
‘The Playback Singer’, where Mishra plays the titular role, is his first venture into western cinema.
COURTESY THE PLAYBACK SINGER

ACTOR, MUSIC DIRECTOR, lyricist, singer and scriptwriter Piyush Mishra finds it difficult to explain his famously limitless talent. Depending on how he is disposed on a given day, the answer can range from a dismissive “Main ghanta struggle nahin karta (I don’t struggle at all)” to a spiritual “Pata nahin, shaayad koi karwa raha hai (I don’t know, perhaps there is a higher power at work)”. But the longer you persist, the more aware you become of anger as a driving force behind his art. “Jo bhi create hua, usi gussey ke wajah se hua aur jo kuch destroy hua, woh bhi usi gussey ke wajah se hua, (Whatever was created, it was due to that anger, and the same anger was responsible for all that was destroyed),” he said in the midst of one of our many conversations.

Our first conversation—agreed to after some persuasion on my part because Piyush feels there isn’t anything more to add to what has already been said or written about him— was at his house in Mumbai’s Goregaon East on a Saturday evening in August.

His three-bedroom apartment is located in a typical middle-class Mumbai housing society, bereft of any grandeur, the kind of place where most residents are supposed to have bought homes with a lifetime’s earnings. Overlooking the verdant Aarey Milk Colony on one side and close to the sprawling Oberoi International School on the other, the apartment complex stands for the constant conflict between Mumbai’s shrinking greenery and the rapidly expanding concrete landscape of the recent decades.

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    Akshay Manwani  is a freelance writer based in Mumbai. His book on the poet-lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi will be published by HarperCollins in 2013.

    Keywords: cinema Bollywood theatre NSD actor Piyush Mishra
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