How do you prepare to become an actor? And what do you need to become successful in the entertainment industry?
Indian film and television actor Shishir Sharma outlined a road map for young actors at the virtual session ‘A Journey through the Entertainment Industry’ on November 21. The session was part of Futurebound, a three-day pan-India youth conference organised by the AIESEC (Association International des Étudiantsen Sciences Économiques et Commerciales) and mentored by Infosys.
Here are excerpts from the session.
An actor prepares
Naseeruddin Shah once said, “An actor is a messenger entrusted with conveying something without distorting or damaging it.” And I go by those words. As an actor, you’re given a specific responsibility to convey in a convincing manner what the writer has asked you to do.
Now this may sound easy but there is a lot of ground to be covered. Do not flirt with acting if you want to be a real actor. Five or seven years of concentrated theatre experience will be handy — there’s no better place to learn the basics. You’ll develop the subtle nuances of acting over time. Nobody is born an actor; it’s a craft that’s to be mastered. I didn’t have any formal training and came through sheer hard work. To become an actor, you need to be on the ball all the time.
Behind the scenes
You can’t taste success without experiencing setbacks first. The constant urge to improve is the biggest driver of improvement. Reaching for the stars will at least make you work towards a goal. Commitment, focus and discipline — you must adhere to these to go on the stage.
Actors need to read books every day to sharpen their memory. Try to memorise a passage from a novel. Reading a novel over and over again might be boring but you’ll eventually find out how it benefits your acting skills. You’ll soon be able to act out that story in a number of ways; you’ll be able to modulate your voice with practice.
Regular rehearsals are a must. You need to be at rehearsals on time every day. Every time you take the stage, you’re on your own. If you make a mistake, it could be the end of the road for you. So stay committed and disciplined, and focus on the script.
At rehearsal sessions, you’ll learn how to stand or sit, how to take the light, how to change your facial expression before the camera and how to take cues from fellow actors. There is no alternative to hard practice in this profession. If you’re really passionate about acting, it’ll come through. Don’t shy away from what you are supposed to be doing.
Passion, precision and performance
It’s hard to survive in the entertainment industry without a mix of passion and precision.The moment you start getting late at rehearsals, people will stop taking you seriously. Work passionately and be precise if you want to become something in life.
When I was doing television, I stopped getting calls from directors for 11 months at a stretch. It bothered me terribly. I had even begun to question my abilities. Then one fine day the doors opened again and opportunities started coming my way.
Waiting in the wings for success
Let’s face it, there’s no shortcut to success. It depends on your passion for acting. Remember that being true to yourself and not compromising on a role will pay off in the long run. You will want to do something only when you are convinced — your audience won’t be convinced as long as you are not convinced. You could be a fantastic actor but that’s not going to help unless people recognise you from a film.
Always do your work sincerely and commit to the work completely. Whatever you do, do it with determination, commitment and focus and stay disciplined all the while. Follow this routine and make use of your passion for acting — nothing can stop you from being successful.