Every actor chose their path with a lot of courage and passion but the paths were all different, goals were different, level of patience in each person was different and based on their level of patience how they have improvised their plan of action or no plan of action was also different. What I am going to write may not be the perfect path but it was the safest path for me which has led me to Bollywood and made me achieve a little what I could keeping my foot strong on my chosen path.
This blog is for those people who have no contacts in the Film & TV industry. Before I start mentioning the steps I followed, I want to advise something very important. Never ever deviate your mind from your basic education. Nowhere, is it written that if you are academically qualified you cannot become an artist. My education helped me to reach here in Bollywood and survive with respect and achieve my dream to become an artist. Remember, art is your passion but it does not guarantee you a profession. So your academic education will be your support and a backup plan on this unpredictable journey.
Alright, now let’s begin with the steps which you are curious to know…
First and foremost step, ask yourself the question why you want to become an actor? Is it just because you want to be seen on camera or known to people? Or, you fell in love with the craft named Cinema? Because, if it is just to be seen on camera and to be known, you need not try to become an actor. You can be a newsreader, a dancer, a singer, a politician, etc., and somewhere you will be seen on camera. If you are good at what you are doing, you will be known as well then why acting? Ok, you fell in love with the craft of Cinema. Now I am convinced.
Second step, you love Cinema; now Cinema is not just about acting. Cinema has many departments like any other line of work. There are departments like Production, Direction, Writing, Editing and Cinematography as well, apart from Acting. If these terms are new to you then my second advice to you is do some research and find out what are the different functions of each department. You may find out that you probably want to become an Editor or a Director. Once you have done your basic research on internet which is easily available everywhere and still if you feel that you want to become an actor then your journey begins from here on.
Third step, learning, find out a school or institute where you can learn acting. It is not an easy job and it is equally not difficult but the way you cannot become a doctor without getting into a medical school, similarly you cannot expect to become an actor without learning about the craft. So, get yourself admitted to a school or institute where they teach acting but remember, do not judge the calibre of the school by the fees they charge you. Go and speak to the institute people and ask what they will teach you in their curriculum. Check with couple of schools and institutes because then you will be able to compare automatically which institute is good for you to learn acting. (speaking to a few students will also be good)
Fourth step, it’s more of an advice again. Do not think that just because you have done the acting course from an institute, you know it all. In this journey, you will be learning every single day. Every time you get a script on hand, you will be learning something new. It will make you feel new because you will try to put yourself under the skin of a character which does not exist but you will create that character and make him or her look alive in you. So, now you know it is definitely not easy. Keep breathing and feel the passion in you. Only the passion in you can make it easy.
Fifth step, connect with the local theatre groups or production houses, where you can get the opportunity to perform. Do not get heartbroken with Nos because this you will hear more on this journey than Yes. Keep breathing and keep trying. In this process, understand your strengths and yourself. Only when you are practically on the field you get an idea about your abilities. Once you understand your strengths and weaknesses, the battle will become a lot easier.
In this whole process, if you are a student then please do not stop your academics. If you are doing a job, do not leave your job and jump into it, maybe you can look for a part-time opportunity. As I said, always remember that art is your passion but it does not guarantee you a profession.
Sixth step, if you live in any other city and not in Mumbai and if you don’t know anyone in Mumbai, try to visit Mumbai once for a small vacation the way I did. I remember the day when I used to sit for hours in front of my computer to do research on the city. I also researched the names of a few production houses in Mumbai and their locations. I still remember when I was here for a 2-week vacation the only production I knocked was Fireworks and the casting director took my photos but never called me. I was disappointed and 2 weeks was over and I went back to Kolkata but never left my hope.
Seventh step, you know if you are targeting to become an actor in Bollywood, you need to live in Mumbai. Are you going to ask your dad to give you money to come to Mumbai and struggle for acting? I am not saying that you can’t but will you? If yes, then for how long? Ok, if that is not a choice then here comes your strength of academics. You can apply for job anywhere in India, even in Mumbai if you have the qualification and this city has the demand for your skills. I applied. No, I didn’t get success very soon. I had to wait and keep trying and keep my patience. One day, I received a call and that was an interview and next I know I had the appointment letter in my mail with a job in Mumbai.
Eighth step, I landed in this city of dreams with a very calm, composed, strategic approach. I joined the company and on the side, joined a theatre group. I worked for that company for almost 2 years and on side continued doing acting on stage. Once you open one door, the next door will also open in due course. After stage, I did regional films, then TV, then Hindi films. It’s been almost 13 years since I live in Mumbai. I am a part of this industry. I am a member of Cine & TV Artists’ Association. My education was always there for my support whenever I needed. Today I act, I write, I do voice-over and I dream to direct someday. You must never stop dreaming but your dream will remain just a dream without your action.
It is not an easy journey but it is an incredible one. Make sure you plan your journey well so you can enjoy it throughout!