Monday, February 22, 2010

The Actor's Diary

Well here it is. The much awaited post is here. I can see long queues lining up outside. Wait! This is a blog post not a cinema hall!

So my dear fans, this is where I reveal all. You privileged readers get the first dope on the making of the next phenoMenon! 

K... Enough of hype. That bit should have attracted the eye-balls. 8 ). So here we go.

Well it all started with a lil write-up in the paper about auditions for a play. I called up and they asked me to come and audition. There was a fairly big crowd, people were constantly coming and going. There was the core bunch who were running the show. So I went and approached them. They gave me a small script and asked me to read from it. It was something funny. I seemed to have done quite well. I was called for the next round. I also came to know that it was a pantomime. Well, to be honest I didn't have a clue as to what that was so I came back home opened the dictionary and checked the word out. So then things started making sense.

So I went the next day and there was a huge crowd. We were all made to stand in a circle. We did some small exercises where we had to portray funny scenes in a single shot- like a photo. Then we had to mouth some funny lines and stuff like that.

Then comes the funny part- I was down with a bad bout of diarrohea. I couldn't follow up with the auditions and I thought well that's the end of that. 2 weeks later I thought well let me call up and see... maybe I'll get  tiny bitty role. Even that would be great. I called and the director said I could come over.

I did. And improv's were going on. Improv is short for improvisation. You are given a scene or a character and you have to enact it. By now we had the outline of the play so people were trying the different characters they wanted to portray. I just watched the first time. I didn't have a clue what needed to be done. After that day's proceedings the director singled me out and said that I would have to do an improv the next day.

So I went back home and I thought up an improv. I went the next day and performed it. And it went of superb. I got a real long loud applause and I was pleased as punch. I so badly wanted to portray the villain. I have written about this improv before. It's here.

So after my improv I went back and sat down with everyone. And I could hear whispers, people were saying- "you know this guy would make a fantastic Bond!".

Next day and the day after that nothing much happened. Then casting was going to be announced. There were going to be heroes, heroines, villains, the support cast etc. There were going to be 4 heroes. Superman, Harry Potter, Shaktimaan...and aloha... I became Bond... James Bond!

I love Bond. I love the movies, the books, the character everything about it. So I thought this was going to be fun. But now the problem comes. Bond is a suave, sophisticated, smart guy. We were doing a pantomime which is an over the top comedy. The two don't necessarily go with each other.

The thing with Pantomimes is that the director will tell the actors where he expects the scene to go. That's all. It's for the actors to come up with improvs by themselves. And I was having a horrid time with that. My lines wouldn't work. Quite often in the middle of a scene I wouldn't know what to do, what expression to portray. Initially thing had started of brilliantly for me... but now it was all going horribly wrong.

Oh... I forgot to add one more thing. Pantomimes have songs and dances. And I found out 2 things. 1- I'm a lousy singer. 2- I'm a lousy dancer. The dancing routines were simply terrifying. Thankfully I didn't have to sing.

You know when things have to go wrong they will. People were telling me my voice was not loud enough, my acting was pathetic, my dancing was even worse than that. I was going in to a shell and I didn't know what to do.

Everyone else was already in character. So they were coming up with their quirks. They were coming up with the spontaneous responses to situations and stuff like that. And I was totally and completely lost. I knew I'd made one big bloody mistake.

Then about 3 weeks from show time the director asked everyone to write feedback about what they felt about everything in the play. I was honest and I wrote that I was screwing up big time. The feedbacks were read out to everyone. Turns out that everyone else felt the same about me. : )

A couple of days after that the director called me aside and told me frankly that my character was not working. I agreed. He told me to come up with something quickly otherwise I'd be thrown out and they'd replace me with a professional. I was bringing the whole play down and that was not fair to the others. I agreed.

So I knew I was going to be thrown out. I was pondering on whether I should go for the show when it happens. It would be odd sitting in the audience after being a part of it for so long. On the other hand I wanted to know how the play would shape up. So I went for that day's improv with nothing to lose.

I don't know if it was the Steve Martin/ Rowan Atkinson videos I was watching, but that day my character clicked. I played a goofy Bond. A wannabe Bond. And from then on things started falling in to place. I started building rapport with my fellow actors. My character started working, our scenes started working.

I was the last guy to get in to character. Most of the scenes had come out already. So I didn't have as many lines as say the other 4 heroes. That added to my resentment initially. But later I didn't care too much about it. You see I was still a hero and that meant I would have a lot of time on stage. And dialogue is only one part of acting. More important than that is emoting. For that you have to get in to character to be able to pull it off. Now that I finally had my character I was able to emote properly and even my emotions were getting noticed. I was thrilled.

So finally the shows came. Our first show was for a school. Our whole performance was not up to the mark. It was my first time on stage. So I made more than a few mistakes. Like for eg- I would leave stage as my normal self. You can't do that. You have to leave in character. I had to leave like the goofy Bond.

Sat night show. The crowd was just awesome. I think the crowd helped me a lot. When you crack that first joke and the audience laughs... it's one of the best feelings in the world. I think I gave a good performance there.

Sunday morning I was tired. I had to run in the morning to meet a friend. Show was in the evening and night. I don't knw what but I just didn't feel right about Sunday evening show. And I didn't perform very well. No one said anything to me. But I felt it inside. I didn't have the energy. I felt I'd let myself down. I think I had too many things on my mind.

So before Sun night show I got in to costume and then I just sat on a bench just behind the auditorium and closed my eyes to everything. Guys were all coming to stare at me. I was like the "Bond Buddha!".I didn't care. I just did it. I don't believe in meditation and all generally. But that time I just felt like doing it and I did.

And I think I gave my best performance on Sunday evening. I was totally completely in character. I had energy. I didn't miss anything( at least nothing that I can remember!). It was a good show for me and most of the cast too. It was great.

So that was my acting sojourn. I had a blast. I have learnt many things about myself. I have learnt that I love acting. I have learnt to respect people who are actors. It's not as easy as it seems. It is most definitely not.

I hope I will get to do more plays in my life. Crossing my fingers. : )



Samvedna said...

congratulations on doing it well!

next time if we get to know we would love to see your play.

itsyvitsy said...


I liked the characters you brought in this write-up as well :-) Goofy Bond, Bond Buddha. LOL :-D You are good writer too, apart from being a good actor. Nice to hear the events that transpired with all the emotions necessary to build the image in my mind and see Ajai in action.

This post reminded me of a story "The Actor", by Anton Chekhov (I hope I got the author right). It was of a similar experience of a guy with no acting experience getting a chance to play a role in a play (though there are subtle differences in your and Chekhov's story). :-) Do read it, if you haven't already. I won't reveal anything more.

An interesting read. It is interesting because you have written this with a lot of heart, and personal experiences always come out neat and beautiful because they almost always have the writer's heart in it.

Good going and all the best for your acting career. Cheers!

sri said...

Congradulations !! That was awesome, well done mate!!

I really lived through u from audition to ur best performance.

Oh man u raised to the occausion, its only through our hard times we know what we really made of.

I loved the goofy and budha bond. All the best pal, U go on and win over the world, if u believe in u can always acheieve it. And hey there exists something called meditation :)

Rakesh Vanamali said...

Wow AJ! U making it big already man! Someday, I hope to queue up for ur autograph, and I sure will!

Maya said...

Congrats dude. u are doing what u like, thts good. And some day when u become famous, ur readers will be proud of u..

A New Beginning said...

God that seems to be a long journey and a great one..liked the craetivity you brought in the characters!Great going Ajai!!keep up!:)One who works hard towards perfection is a winner indeed!

Unknown said...

oh boyo... you were brilliant on saturday evening...
Your expressions were smooth and suave... :P
just as the character u needed to potray..
You'll go a long way boy...
I missed the jam show u did in school... This one sure was good bro!!!
Keep it going all right...

AJEYA RAO said...

Congrats Ajai....oh Bond :-) Bro...Do let me know when you travel to Bangalore....

Swetha Sridhar said...

Was a brilliant play!
Had me rolling in the aisles, wiping tears from my my eyes.
Nice to read a take on how the characters got into place =)

Trueblue said...

cool..."himmat karne walon ki haar nahi hoti..."

All the best...

And thank for sharing it with us...was an interesting read.

Madman said...

machi nee hero va kalaku po

chital_phenomenal said...

hey Ajai, that was really great.. you made me feel guilty for wat i missed..gee, it isnt easy as it sounds huh??? u did have a tough time.. but u made it through.. cheers...

Ajai said...

Hey Thanks!
ya will definitely post if i'm doing another one. i'll hold u to that promise k? :)

Thanks bro. Good writer... good actor... what more can I hope for? :)
I should get that book. Will keep an eye out for it. Thanks. :)

Thanks bro! Ya meditations exists. You can control your mind if you want to. I think that's what i learnt from that experience. :)

Ajai said...

Thanks bro... and you will never ever have to stand in line. just say your name and u'll get VIP treatment all the way.... courtesy AJai! :)

Yes it's important that you find what you enjy doing. I hope that I never have to work in my life. I only want to do the things I enjoy doing. :)

Thanks! yes... try try try till u succeed. You realize the meaning of those quotes only when u apply them. :)

Ajai said...

Thanks boyo... I know whatever happens... I will have one true fan for my whole life. :). And what jam competition boyo? don't remember anything.

thanks buddy. might be going to coimbatore. not sure about b'lore. if there is a trip i will surely infrom u in advance. :)


Wow! You were in the audience? which show? and please critically evaluate my performance. want to know everything i can. pls!

Ajai said...

Thnks. Glad you enjoyed it. :)

Thnks Thambi... Naan hero na nee definite aa sidekick.;). seri?

Yes i really wanted u to come. don't worry. next time better make it for sure. and it's not as easy as it looks. believe me! :)

Vintage Obsession said...

first time here :) pretty interesting blog:)
n congratulations :)love the way u've written and brought out the characters

Ajai said...

Welcome here... and keep coming. :)
Glad you liked the 'characters'. Thanks. have fun. :)

Chhaya said...

Hee haa! nice!!

do we get autographs of the wud be famous actor ;)

Ajai said...

Ya sure... There is a whole lot of autographed merchandise. Mugs, Pens, t-Shirts... you name it. Prices start from Rs 1500/- onwards. ;)