One of the most sublime and rewarding qualities of art is hiding as much as it is showing on the canvas. The art of leaving things unsaid but very subtly alluded. Despite being one of the most rewarded epithets of art it is also the most difficult to achieve.
The moments of silence in a composition, balance of the filled and unfilled canvas space, the magic of poetry that insinuates meaning in the minimum possible words – they are all nuances that make good art great.
In the words of the literary critic Harold Bloom, writing on Shakespeare: “Increasingly in his work, what he leaves out becomes much more important than what he puts in, and so he takes literature beyond its limits.”
Literature, painting, music – all are but indirect media of expression. When they leave things unsaid, they impact us the most. Firstly because they leave space for the reader, viewer or listener to fill in the blank spaces and make the piece of art their own. This suddenly brings the artist closer to us. Not only do we recognise ourselves in the art we also recognise the artist, relate to the artist. It is a strangely gratifying intimacy. Secondly, art is essentially an expression of the shy wild animal encaged in its shell – the soul. The soul – that little wild animal of the jungle that if not won over with pristine and true intent, does not show itself to us however many serenades we sing or paint we blotch.
It is said the soul cannot be talked about, we can only talk about the soul indirectly. And that is the quality of all art – stories, melodies, poems, portraits, landscapes. They are all trying to capture that which will always remain unseen if we try to look at it. It is not meant to be looked at it is meant to be experienced.
Much like this sweetmeat for the soul – Barfi. It will not preach true love, it will not enlist characteristics of true love. But you will still understand what it is to love, truly. This story of love is narrated by almost every onlooker of the ballad but the main protagonists. The two people whose love we live in this short glimpse of their life, never speak about the love they bear in their hearts. While one is indefinitely mute, the other is way too sensitive to utter words we can ever understand. They only show, what it is to love. They only allude to how the soul loves another soul.
The most important thing – the words of the two lovers are left unsaid in this story. But you have enough to fill up their narratives. You will still feel in your bones what one feels for the other. You will see, feel it, smile with it, laugh at it, cry on it – but you will not be able to put it in words. For it is not meant to be spoken about, it is meant to be lived, experienced, by your own soul.