Mahesh Bhatt speaks on his association for conducting acting workshops:
The thought of being a part of real time acting workshops conducted for young aspiring actors stems from years of experience that I have garnered after having spent nearly half a century in the industry. Recognizing an actor’s talent potential is only one very miniscule part of this journey that I undertake with students of Cinema, my key focus lies in grooming them to channelize their energy as an actor, make sure that they pursue their dreams in the right direction.
For me these workshops are a medium to encourage young actors to be themselves, their absolute raw, natural selves be it on or off the camera. A successful actor is one who nourishes his art and art cannot be nourished without being open to the experiences of life, so an actor essentially is a human being who keeps his doors open to all experiences that life has to offer. Young actors need to inculcate this quality right from the very start. Whenever I interact with young and aspiring actors I always dare them to be themselves. They must remember they are not here to be like somebody be it Amitabh Bachchan or Shah Rukh or Ranbir or Alia, instead they are here to be themselves, feel and express themselves freely.
The Royal Academy of Acting in the U.K had this huge hoarding – “A good actor is a good man”, it’s very important that an actor understands the essence of this statement. The human values that an actor is supposed to play on screen come out more effectively only when an actor is in touch with his inner core. These values exist within us all, we are all born with certain instincts but during our life’s journey these feelings get diminished, they get suppressed. A good workshop is a place where these buried feelings can get activated and an actor comes in sync with his inner value system. It is not about becoming a thinking person, instead the workshop teaches you to be a feeling person.
Emotions are universal, irrespective of where it may happen, we must understand that the underlying emotion of that situation remains same across the globe. An actor is an emotion producing machine not a thought generating plant and emotions are not not bound by class, education, social stature or for that matter even gender. A good actor understands that the treasure chest of emotions must be explored to its optimum and everybody has their own unique style of doing this. It is not something that can be spoon-fed, no university or school can put those emotions in an actor.
For any actor to be able to adequately activate their emotional stream they need to be inspired to constantly revisit their emotional treasure chest from where they can best draw their understanding of any character that they may be required to play. A typical session begins with each student identifying their favorite scene and use it as a reference point to build their own version of it. For instance, at the time of Ganpati Visarjan we go and burry the statue but bring back a little portion of that statue and create a new one. Similarly, use that scene as a little reference and create a new icon, using your own emotions, own body language and your own understanding of the universe to achieve the desired impact.
Fear continues to be the greatest challenge in the business of cinema. All young actors must understand that doubt is something they will have to befriend right from the very beginning. There never will be a day when they can face the camera sans fear. Remember the day you can face camera without fear you have begun to die as an actor. Its almost like to be able to swim through a flowing stream you must be alive and engaged full bodied with stream. An actor must be able to negotiate his stream of emotions every time he performs. Thus, a key aspect of becoming an actor is to befriend emotions of doubt, fear and uncertainty. Just the way you can never get rid of your shadow you cannot rid yourself of self-doubt. Fear will never ever leave you, perhaps only when you are dead, dead, dead!
Competition remains a fact of life, at every stage you must compete, be able to sell yourself. However, keep in mind that self-projection has but a very limited role. After self-projection you must have something distinct which essentially sets you apart. Projection can only make me look at you but what will keep me hooked is the true essence of you as an individual, as an actor. Therefore, this class is just a beginning to make you taste the inexhaustible ocean of acting. The only commitment you need to make with yourself as you embark upon your journey of becoming an actor is that there is no destination, no horizon, no arriving, there is only learning, learning, learning!
The next two days that we spend together we will do things that we have never done before because this is our home and we are not frightened to make a fool of ourselves. An actor is a courageous person, not frightened of being laughed, snigger or mocked at. If you do not have the stomach to take that you will never be an actor so all of you, who are here, must do things which you all have never done. Don’t do the scene that you are very confident on, do the scene that you are not sure about. For instance, if you are very good at comedy do a tragic scene, you are good at drama, then do a lighter scene and all of you must sing the mukhda atleast of a song no matter how bad you think your voice is. Singing fearlessly in front of people helps you shed inhibitions and get emotionally naked.
An actor is an emotionally naked person, character is his only attire, the only garment. With this workshop we open doors to each one of you enabling a closer contact and understanding. Tell me all about yourselves, where you come from, your fears, your dreams, things you long for and everything that has been frustrating you in life. All you need to do is be real with me, for only when you would be your real selves with me will I be able to establish any contact.