Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Three p.m. talks: Heart to heart Conversation with Megha Rao

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                             picture credits: Megha Rao

Megha Rao, the fierce, brave woman has the power to move the entire crowd with her words, which are as powerful as her kohled eyes and her unique nose ring. Is she the same off stage too? We discovered her other side, which she often describes her different personality, Megha, in a 3 p.m. talk with icy tales.

Megha describes herself as a ‘well-read threat’ who loves to write, travel, read, sing, and paint. She reads a lot, anytime of the day. Since she studied literature, she states she didn’t have a choice but to read.

When asked about how she passes her time during the lockdown in India due to the coronavirus scare, Megha admits she misses the traveling. Being an introvert, she thought the lockdown period would go smoothly, but unfortunately, that’s not what has happened till now. 

Poetry and Writing:

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PC: Megha Rao

All her readers know how Megha likes to pepper her poetry and writings with historical information and metaphors. On being asked how does she embark on the journey of writing a new piece, she replies that she always begins with her ending line, which is the punch to her writing. Her ending lines are her trademark, and knowing the end guides her so that she doesn’t lose track of her plot.

It’s like knowing the destination to follow the creative journey. She writes when a thought strikes. It can be when she’s talking to a friend, crossing the road, or even when she hears “the price of a potato sack” has increased. She jots it down or maybe wholly forgets about it. She remembers a piece she read five years ago and then “connects the dots” to the article she is currently writing. A lot of research goes behind when she writes a piece, and if not satisfied, it ends up in the bin. Well, that’s how writers are right!!

I asked her as to how it all started for her. She says she had wild imagination since she was a child, but her writing has evolved with her. She tells how she thinks her writing is bad when she goes through her old works, but then as an artist, she feels “it’s okay not to like your past writings.” She has written young adult and romance novels for Penguin, and the audience has loved it, and she believes as a sixteen-year-old girl, she did a great job then, but she can never go back to that stage.

She also talks about how the current generation has made liking something popular a thing to be frowned upon. She thinks the elitism is coming back in a bad manner and she feels its perfectly fine in listening to Taylor Swift or reading books like Twilight or 50 shades of Grey. She finds that it is ridiculous that people should not like the popular culture to think they are interesting or they have a better taste. She feels okay to be a “boring person” and laughs.

Magical realism and surrealism:

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Surrealism through body painting. picture credits: Megha Rao

Megha wrote in a way where her head was in the cloud and feet on the ground, filled with metaphors, a thin line between two worlds of reality and magic. She never knew about those forms until her editor pointed it out to her. That’s how she came to know about these forms of writing, and she looked into this school of Art. She was always a fan of Frida Kahlo and was always into the surrealist form of painting and writing.

We asked her who would she like to meet – Sylvia Plath or Frida Kahlo? She chuckles and says she is already in murky waters to choose between one, but she would go with Frida and maybe go out for a drink and spend time with her knowing her thoughts and ideas.

“It’s reality, but also there’s so much of imagination. It’s like you walking inside a magical technicolor dream. That’s how my life is, and that’s how I see. My perspective is very, let’s say, weird, but beautiful, like, magical.”

The audience, Artist, and Art:

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pc: Megha Rao

Replying to the question where should the author’s intentions be exactly interpreted by the audience, Megha replies that it matters to her because she puts up a piece in which she expresses her emotions and anger. If the audience doesn’t understand what she meant, then it defeats the whole purpose.

She feels if she has to explain what she wrote, then it loses all its beauty. But on the other hand, Art is for all, everyone has their interpretations of Art, and it doesn’t belong to anyone.

On the other hand, we belong to the art“. She refers it to the “Death of the artist,” and when she creates Art, it is out there as Art. She also becomes an “audience to her art.”

Megha also doesn’t believe that “from the broken heart comes to the best poetry.” She says that we have over-glorified broken hearts, and it necessarily doesn’t need a broken heart to curate good poetry or writing.

Broken hearts have been the mentor for many, and you can create beautiful art when you’re depressed because that’s when all the strong and raw emotions come out, but you can create beautiful art when you are not. Poetry is about intense emotion, which can be both positive and negative.

“Any kind of intense emotion can translate the true overwhelming happiness or gut-wrenching grief or extreme anger or whatever. As long as you feel strongly, you will write very beautifully.I don’t see why we need to romanticize the whole tragic Art and Artist.”

Alter Ego and Characterization in Art:

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Megha with Megha Rao

Answering the question, can an author dislocate the self with Art, and does her persona go into her writing? she affirms that “whenever you write, fiction or nonfiction is extremely autobiographical.” She believes that everything comes from personal experience in one way or the other, and it reflects in your writing unconsciously. “Your story and poem can only make sense when a small part of you seeps into it through small-small personal experiences that shaped your personality.”

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pc: Megha Rao

“Because, you know, whenever you write, fiction or nonfiction, it is extremely autobiographical. It is because you know, we might not even be conscious about that process, but you do end up putting a small part of yourself in your Art, and nothing is apolitical, and everything comes from personal experience.”

Megha and Megha Rao are different entities as Megha Rao is the person who speaks on stage, writes poetry and stories. Still, Megha is just a Potterhead (House Ravenclaw) who is introverted, watching rom-com movies while sipping her Irish coffee with her favorite Mexican dish alongside. But Megha Rao, her alter ego is brave, outward and speaks her mind and was created because of the kind of poetry she writes, the angry feminist, or the heartbreak poetry.

But she is more to it and she feels its just a part of her which is being consumed by the audience. Sometimes she feels she is in an identity crisis where the expectation and reality are different!

Megha and Megha Rao are so different that her friends state that Megha is “employed under Megha Rao,” she says and chuckles.

Traveling and mental health:

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Megha’s travelling diaries

How does Megha travel? That’s what we asked her next. 

She loves to travel. Her eyes light up when asked about her favorite place she traveled in India and the world. She likes to travel light and likes to do spontaneous trips. The one thing she learned during one of her travels is never to plan a long or back to back traveling as it can get you exhausted – and you might fall sick and not enjoy the place. She likes to talk to the locals and be a localite rather than a tourist when she visits a place.

The beauty of traveling on foot or via a bicycle hits differently altogether. She smiles and remembers her trip to Mussoorie, which was her much needed yet most fun-filled trip. She loves Barcelona as it was more about the people rather than the place which makes the place her favorite.

She talked about how the people were so warm and welcoming. Some even talked to her in the local language as they thought she belonged there. She laughs remembering the memories. For her traveling to a place means to transform herself into a person who lives there and enjoy the simple yet beautiful things which these touristy spots don’t provide.

Megha talks about mental health being trivialized these days. People compare this generation to older generations and trivialize the fact that everyone is depressed in this generation. The older generation claims to have faced lot more problems while not complaining of depression but she believes no one has the right to decide who should undergo depression and who shouldn’t as those days it was a topic which was not talked about openly and people are coming out about this in the current generation.

Megha says you can suffer from depression which can be hormonal or can be from a trauma. People need to stop judging or comparing their lives to decide they should have depression or not. This is just victim-blaming which needs to stop.

“We are the generation we need. It’s not something to be proud of, but I believe that our battle scars are just as big and just as important!”

Megha answers the hypothetical question:

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Picture credits: Megha Rao

To the question, what would Megha do if she wakes up 100 yrs ahead of and finds herself in a world dominated with science and no space for literature and Art? she takes her time and answers in a very simple yet effective way. She says literature started orally, so she would use the same way to spread Art and literature orally using the technology.

She talks about how this generation is very impatient, and their attention span very short. We scroll Instagram at a crazy speed, skipping long paragraphs – yet, who doesn’t like to hear stories and poems.

Achievement as an author:

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Picture credits: Fatima writes

She says she was never about the big things like going on the biggest stage or getting a million views on a video. She never saw it as a milestone to cross. It was always about how her Art helped others survive something. She quotes “art comforts the disturbed and disturbs the comfortable”. She feels when her Art achieves the same, to connect and relate with somebody else, she feels achieved.

To carry the extra baggage of someone through her writing, a raw, strong emotion which you might not know what you are feeling but the moment you read a similar thing and feel that you might not even know them but can relate to them, she feels she has achieved to take away the baggage they carried.There are moments where girls come up to her and tell her she saved their lives through her writing, that’s when she knows her purpose has fulfilled.

She feels her book, ‘Music to Flame Lilies’ as the favorite book she has written as she has received a lot of audience responses to the book. They have expressed how they have loved the book, which makes her feel that as an author she has been able to connect to the people and even as an audience to her own book, she feels some of the parts are really beautiful and she would not go back and change anything in it.

Megha’s journey from Canvas painting to Bodypainting:

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Bodypainting on self. picture credits: Megha Rao

She goes back to her college days where she shares a memory where she painted a wall with all her energy and passion but it was taken down. She said that she was devastated by it, and couldn’t paint for many years after that but body painting is what she discovered recently. She says it gives her the power to create and destroy. For Megha, it is therapeutic and makes her realize that nothing is permanent in Art. She also feels like canvas painting was easier as it has a flat surface, but body painting with all its curves and marks is beautiful on its own.

“Even if they take that away from me (the art wall painting in college), they can’t take my ability to create away from me, and that’s what body painting has taught me.”

Megha Rao is an amazing concoction of words, emotions, and magic. She has the power to move people with her words and wild, magical imagination, and that’s what the world lacks somewhere, which makes her unique!

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