Hi, this is vikrant chaturvedi,(smile ) if you like me you can call me on 9820087811(smile), I have been doing, theatre, films, ads and television here for a while(smile). I am 35 (?) years old, I am 6’1’ tall and I weigh around 85 kgs. (Smile) .These are my profiles, right, left, smile, smile, and smile wider!
I can do this in my sleep. this is a routine me, and every actor does in Mumbai, everyday, multiple times, hopping from one dingy studio to another while auditioning for one TV commercial after another, or for a role in a television series or a small film. (Big films are cast in five star hotels generally without any auditions...)it’s a routine we all hate, criticise, dismiss, even deny but keep finding ourselves doing that one last time .
Ever since India opened up, and the economic boom happened, multiple television channels mushroomed out of nowhere, and hundreds of new products got launched in the economy. The middle classes suddenly discovered money in their pockets or got lured into flashing their credit cards pushed down their neck by aggressive credit card executives. Needless to say, a fringe benefit was bestowed on us actors, as more products meant more ads and more ads meant more jobs for actors.
And so they came, in hordes galloping downwards from, the plains of Punjab, haryana and U P, stacked up with massive biceps and six pack abs, hands on their low waist jeans and eyes on John Abraham’s throne. This is the first breed you encounter as you walk into the audition hall for a ‘look based ad “, cigarettes, booze, condoms, designer wear, bikes and cars. The requirement here is simple. You need to look rough and tough, lean and hungry, with zero fat on your body and no expressions on your face. you need to get consistently confused for not being Indian looking, ala the original Italian jat Veeru Bhooker, who became a top model by endorsing products he never used in reality .This breed is generally friendly, you can start a conversation with them, and they would reply you first in English, then bad English, then bad Hindi, and finally in a cocktail of hindi/pujabi/haryanavi.They will quickly become your friends, and guides (if not philosophers ) ,and will guide you towards correct, gymming , nutrition, and women. Their favourite topics in precisely that order.
The second breed you see are generally called “character actors”. This is a breed recognized as non “hero” looking actors. They all have vast experiences of different forms of theatre behind them, in their various small towns of origin. These people are not bestowed with Greek god looks, and as the joke goes, are a result of god’s overtime…but they can boast of, almost arrogantly of one thing. They are all good actors. Put them in front of the camera and they would blast, sometimes even more than actually required and amaze the audience with their talent. They are normally called for pan Indian parts. the milkman, the servant, the office peon, the barber.. However their looks and appearances are sometimes very deceptive. With the ad industry discovering the new market for their products in the great Indian middle class, the demand of such “faces “is huge and in all likelihood the rich looking dude actually takes a local train to the studio, while the actor playing his servant boy steps out of a shiny Hyundai accent, accompanied by his spot boy, if you please.
The third breed is a strange animal. They are slightly older, fair complexioned, (necessary to portray rich), fit, but not gym toned, educated looking, (aided by powerless glasses), always carrying a jacket and a tie, (to give the illusion of a corporate look), models. They normally do television to survive and are very critical (almost ashamed) of that. They normally play, the young father, young corporate, doctor, engineer, lawyer, military officers. This is a breed which normally endorses household consumer items, so they sell saffola and buy dhara, speak for Colgate and use close up, endorse icici and keep their monies in Citibank. They do not discuss the ethical question behind advertising, they are paid money to speak one lie after the other, time and again, to pay their rents and drive their cars.
Whatever type you may fall in, you end up following the same routine. You go inside the room, give your introduction, try to perform in the vastly calming presence of an arrogant bimbette masquerading as a casting director, and an extremely bored looking camera attendant, just waiting for his shift to get over. You take directions from lady Spielberg, who in between talking on her mobile, screaming for silence and munching her sandwich tells you what exactly the correct expressions of a doting father are. A great atmosphere for a great performance I must say.
But I have to admit, the atmosphere in and out of the audition hall may look intimidating to begin with, but it eases up and starts looking familiar after multiple visits. You find out that behind every face and body, there stands a genuine person with genuine intentions of giving his best. The talent may sometime be a point of debate, but the drive and passion is certainly not .And in a predominantly luck driven industry like bollywood,which is the final destination for every single soul in that crowded room, what difference does it make if you look good or not, speak well or not. All success stories generally will tell you that all it requires to succeed here is to be at the right place at the right time, Rest just follows.
And so to do that, one needs to have the patience and the grit to survive one gruelling video test after another, jump from one audition to the next and generally just be in the loop. Success in either monetary terms or pure wisdom usually follows. And if you finally attain your Buddhahood by giving multiple auditions and getting no calls, you can always write a blog.
Did I hear somebody say sour grapes???