Lights! Camera! Action! These three magic words attract thousands of young people from across the country into the acting profession in the worlds largest feature films industry. And with satellite television having multiplied the demand for celluloid thespians of both sexes, cutting capers before the cameras has become an attractive career option drawing even the progeny of industry tycoons and chief ministers! Moreover actors and actresses are always in demand for compering variety shows, beauty contests, award ceremonies, anchoring, hosting television shows and film-oriented programmes, as well as endorsing products on commercial television.
Passable thespian talent with a ‘stage personality is an obvious prerequisite. Other attributes important for success in this profession are good health; an iron constitution; innate grace; coordinated movements with a good sense of rhythm; an arresting presence rather than beauty or balance of features; the ability to learn script lines quickly and a good memory; a high degree of imagination and sensitivity to get the feel of a role and to interpret it; resilience to withstand criticism from colleagues, producers, directors, mentors and critics; preferably an aptitude for dancing and singing; and a well-modulated voice with proper diction and intonation.
Education and training related to the acting profession is provided across the country by several reputable academies and institutes. Minimum eligibility requirements for admission are successful completion of the Plus Two or equivalent examination and articulation in the interview. Full-time acting courses are usually of two to three years duration. Admission is through audition, interview and aptitude testing and participation in stage productions at the school level and/or with amateur theatre groups.
Reputed institutes. The National School of Drama, New Delhi, fully financed by the government of India, is the premier institution in the country for imparting training in acting, design and other disciplines related to the dramatic arts and theatre. Several varsities also offer education in acting and the dramatic arts. Among them are:
Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata
M.S. University, Baroda
Natya Academy, Lucknow
Marathwada University, Aurangabad
Punjab University, Chandigarh
Institutes offering short-term acting courses have sprung up across the country inspired by the pioneer Film and Television Institute of India (FTII, estb. 1960) at Pune, an autonomous body
under the Union ministry of information and broadcasting, and the Satyajit Ray Institute in Kolkata. Many of them are run by professionals from the film world and retired actors and actresses. With a growing number of youngsters aspiring to become actors, private acting schools are fast mushrooming. Some of the popular ones are:
Asha K Chandras Film Acting Institute, Mumbai
Barry John Acting Studio, Mumbai
Anupam Khers Acting School in Ahmedabad, Chandigarh and Mumbai called Actor Prepares
Kishore Namit Kapoor Acting Institute, Mumbai
Roshan Taneja School of Acting, Mumbai
Subhash GhaisWhistling Woods International at Film City, Mumbai
Center for Research in Art of Film and Television, Delhi
To top it all, a Global Film School is being planned by the Central government, adjoining the FTII campus. Hailed as a world-class film school, it may give the other actors schools a run for their money. Though competition is intense and wastage of time and talent astronomic, for those who break into this profession the sky is the limit as far as earnings are concerned.
Audio-visual media are booming today. There are lots of opportunities for youngsters who want to be actors. For those who want to join this profession for money or glamour, they should do a rethink. My advice to wannabe actors is to visit a studio and watch top actors at work. This will persuade them that theres a lot of stamina and sweat required in this profession. Its extremely competitive out there, but if you love it, it can be great. Its also a high-risk, high-rewards profession,” says tall, handsome actor Sanjit Bedi whose role in the film Mango Souffle received good notices.
A BBA (bachelor of business administration) graduate of the University of Southern California, Bedi signed up with a German multinational Otto Versand after graduation which took him to Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Bali and finally to his hometown Delhi, where he set up an office for them. But after 18 months of corporate life, the acting bug bit him prompting him to put in his papers and head for Mumbai. His first break came with playwright Mahesh Dattanis stage production On a Muggy Night in Mumbai. Bedi was spotted by producers of the B4U television channel who signed him up as its first veejay. At B4U Music, Bedi hosted several shows and acted in television serials including Mann and Dil Se Dosti (2001) and in the popular serial Sanjivani on Star Plus. He has also acted in a short film Splitting Images directed by Anupama Srinivasan and The Ex, a British TV serial directed by Charles Vellion.This talented actor also starred in several television advertising campaigns — Thums up, Sprite, Limca and Lakme among others. In the pipeline are a couple of big budget feature films where hes been offered substantive roles.
With India boasting the largest film industry in the world, actors need to be better trained. What we need is professional acting schools on the lines of the Lee Strasberg Studio in the US which offers a two-year course on body movement, dancing, meditation and lectures by top Hollywood stars apart from classroom study. Although acting requires natural aptitude, training is also necessary. Wannabe actors need to learn the tools of the trade in formal acting schools, otherwise they could ruin their careers while learning on the job,” says Bedi.
With the film and television industries all set for a shakeout and restructuring which will separate amateurs from professionals, theres a great future for innovative actors and actresses who have studied the thespians art. Therefore, Indian cinema and television offers good career options to a new generation of cerebral professionals with their eyes on stardom but their feet firmly planted on the ground.