Living on the Edge: Nise Meruno

Dimapur | December 30: What makes a person a celebrity? If they influence our lives, reflect and define our culture, then that’s a celebrity. If Nagaland had a list of top 50 celebrities, okay, narrow it down to ten, who would figure on the list? One person we all know would hands down be at the top is Nise Meruno! Enthralling music lovers since the age of six, Nise is an acclaimed classical pianist celebrated everywhere. He was awarded the Governor’ award for Excellence in Music in 2007, and has since played for the President and the Prime Minister. He has toured many countries and currently mentors an all male choir called ‘Zowe Madrigal’. Nise possesses a combination of talent, on and off stage presence, charm, sophistication and glamour-tons of it. Thus making him one of the most vied youth icon in Nagaland.

For a place like Nagaland that is constantly overdosing on rock and more rock music- when Nise first stepped into the music scene it was a big change in tone. It was also apparent that his particular brand of music was not going to be so popular to the masses after all. Responding to this, Nise with just a touch of sarcasm said, “Classical music is not for all. It is an acquired taste. You have ‘popular music’ for the rest.”

A strong debater, full of wit and clever repartees Nise said: “We have given enough time for rock music to flourish in Nagaland. I’m not saying I have flourished classical music in Nagaland.” His argument is that if given the same attention and detail to classical music, it can achieve great heights and even make it International. As a teacher to many young pupils of piano and vocal, he claims he has witnessed and sees immense potential.

Nise who has received acclaim and recognition in places such as Delhi, Bombay, Bangalore, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia (to name just a few) returned to his birthplace to take on a new challenge - to breathe life into Naga folk fusion music. However he expresses discontent over this stating that although a lot of people are now trying to dabble in folk fusion music, there are not able to get it right. He said that folk fusion music has to be a very fine blend. He further argues that a lot of people are still not giving enough attention.

Flamboyant, Fashionable and Fun is how Nise is. Are we seeing the real Nise or is this just a public persona? Ask this to Nise, and he reveals that he does not even listen to music or watch television at home! Usually seen hanging around town with an entourage, he claims he is ‘stillness’ personified at home. Nise also said that he is past several things. Like for instance he shares how in his initial days he used to feel really good seeing his name appear in magazines and newspapers. But now I’m past that stage. Now, I find it funny when I see other people behaving that way, he said.

More than just music, Nise is also usually seen at the judging tables of numerous fashion shows. His Mantra that “Art imitates life” is a reflection to this. He said that what one really is, reflects in his art. “If you are a true artiste, it will spill into other genres of art as well. Everything is related, and moreover I always had a keen eye for creativity” he said. His heydays in Delhi were a potpourri of choreographing fashion shows and even modeling.

So take away music from Nise, and what do we have left? “Like I have been robbed of something from my heart,” he said. Music has been my rock, even in my lowest of days, he admits. A bold statement he makes is this, “I am first a musician and then a friend, teacher or brother.”

The road to success is seldom easy. And it has been a hard ride for this accomplished pianist. Nise said that it has been tough and he has struggled to bet to where he is. He recounts how he used to travel a lot and even sing for nothing. He said he even had no time to have lunch, sometimes. His first big break he said was the “Magic of Broadway” held at Delhi. “I knew it was my turning point,” he said remembering fondly.

For hundred fans, there are thousand haters. Nise has also faced his due share of critiques from people, especially his from his own. “I have faced so many tribulations. People have tried to take away the good things away from me” he said but he shares that now he is a positive person. I’m not the same person anymore since high school, people will always say negative things about you but now I’m not really shaken by these things. It’s all a part of being a public persona,” he said. The worst critique he has received till date, he said is the statement that he is after fame and money. Nise points out that if that was the case then he would have never come back to Nagaland. “Why would I have done so, in the peak of my career,” he counters. One thing that has remained steadfast in his life- is his belief in God. “You may have all the talents but unless you have God on your side you won’t be successful,” he said.

An inspiration to many youth, Nise said that he has always been an average student in School. In fact, he said with glee that he used to fail miserably in a lot of subjects. An observation he said he made is that many youngsters just chase degrees and waste time. “The earlier you allow God to intervene and discover your forte then your life will begin to take shape,” he said. He however cautions that one must not follow a profession just because it is in fashion but to discover ones forte and let God be your guide and let his grace be.

On being a youth icon, Nise said “I’m not perfect. I really do not want to mislead young people. They should see the good things in me and cultivate them. Much as I would want to do everything perfectly, I’m also only human. Do not blindly follow or ape me,” he cautions.

Having spent years with music by his side, he advises that Music is a gift from God, which is exclusive. People should understand that one should not be discouraged if one’s children is not doing well as the others and adds, “We should discover that gift in us and let God’s gift lead us”.

Nise takes pride in his achievements and said that whatever the mishaps he has faced it has been truly worthwhile. He said that his dreams have come very early in life and he feels blessed. The youngsters signs off by saying, “This has been my dream and to see it come alive, I take pride. At least I have left my footprint in music, now I want to send others there.”