On my drive home I was wondering what caused me to leave. It certainly wasn’t their lack of prowess at acting; even with a very modest backdrop they were able to tell a story. But really, the story made my head spin! Twins, separated in a storm, women masquerading as men, love triangles and quadrilaterals...... it brought back memories of watching a Manmohan Desai movie from the 70s.
If this was a story written in 2019 by any of the major writers of today, I have no doubt that it would have sunk without a trace. And yet, if I say Shakespeare wrote it, there is an aegis of classicism that covers all shortcomings. Question, is Twelfth Night, really a classic? And if it is, why? Is it because of the way the verses were assembled (the archaic language made comprehension that much more difficult anyways) or was it representative of a socio-cultural system of that age which I failed to appreciate? I could extend this question to any field of art. Not every movie that had a successful run in its time can be watched today; while some we go back to every year - they never go out of relevance or look dated. We might go back to the 80s or 70 s or 60s and enjoy these films perhaps for the nostalgia it invokes. Do the current generation think the same?
I would like to think that a classic stands the test of time on the basis of its own pedigree, and not because of a name associated with the project - be it Chaplin or Ingrid Bergman or Charles Dickens, lends a patina of credibility to an otherwise inferior product. By the same token a classic could have been written yesterday also. Likewise in dance, a classic cannot be defined by age or by its performer alone. It is defined by a certain core that will touch a majority of audiences regardless of which generation they come from and those like gems are valuable, but very rare. The rest I am afraid just masquerade.