Passion and Purpose: What it takes to become an actor

When an actor acts because he loves it, when he loses himself in his role, that’s passion playing out. Like the rain is in the raining, the actor lives fullest through his acting. One cannot explain it, because they are in it. The passion between an actor and his craft is everything. He doesn’t know what to call it, because it is in him.  His role and himself are like air and mist.  Words are a mere metaphor. The experience the actor creates is what is memorable.

When over a period of time, he gives the best of himself to his audience, when the giving and the receiving match: a Purpose comes into his Life. Now he is giving himself over to his audience. He is flowing with his craft, he is being with his craft. That is Power! Balancing the talent and the power creates great energy.!

We live in a superficial society where ingenuity is not always admired. We are stuffed to the gills with marketing mantras and feel-good gadgets. Yet we are starved of feelings... a lot of mediocre acting by virtue of weighty marketing techniques gets lauded. And yet again Mediocrity with arm candy rules the day! Beneath those sexy films is thin ice. Lots of style, glamour, oomph, colour, dance, songs... and the audience gets duped into believing the glitter is great sales. In today’s times chick flicks are captivating and emancipating (our deep hypocrisy!) Because people don’t want to delve too deep into themselves.  They would rather laugh, dance and gloss over harsh realities .

To come back to a well rounded actor who has put his passion to a higher purpose. Who has understood acting is about giving and receiving. About touching the lives of many.  It is difficult to explain because language is linear. And linear is anything but the life of an actor. I will say this, acting cannot be taught because it is larger than the teaching. It is a process that an actor goes through, it cannot be broken down and understood because it cannot be separated from the whole. The sum of its parts are larger than the whole.

A truly great actor is one who is so lost in his role, that the condition itself means freedom. Think of lovers lost in themselves. Same is the case with an actor and his role. They experience an expansiveness and deep connection with the role, such that it’s almost liberating. I think one such actor could be Ranveer Singh, our Bollywood wonder boy. Not that I know him, but he has acted in a play we directed many years ago and his commitment to his role was as seamless as a fish to water. The acting took little effort, the delving into the shades of the character, losing oneself and fleshing out the character was what took effort. Ranveer the actor and the role he played swam effortlessly downstream, till they fused together . No struggle. Just a journey. Today I see he plays a broad spectrum of roles with such ease, so naturally. This is indeed a gift.

The ability to change, morph, and do it effortlessly is the essence of a great actor. And the audience is the living vessel into which he flows. The moment when passion finds a sense of purpose, is when there is no dwelling place. There are no walls. No room can contain an actor who wants to break free and live within the vast spaces only he can inhabit. Think Al Pacino.  Think Robin Williams . Think Meryl Streep. Think Leonardo DiCaprio.  They hold me in awe.

I see it as, it’s not so much trying that they fail. To arrive they need to unloosen the harness. They need to trust. To untangle what is complicated and make it simple. Because finally an actor knows that which is kept will be lost; best it be shared with the world. The actor and his audience is like the wind and the sea.

(Bubbles Sabharwal is a theatre director and author)

Bubbles Sabharwal