Knocksense: A local content and recommendations platform

Amidst the current debate in regards to the film industry and mental health of its artistes, here is an insider's account from actor turned filmmaker Himanshu Malik.


I don't think any actor (or actress) ever forgets the first day they arrive in Mumbai, be it a classic monsoon day of unending rain and the Mumbaikars go about their day as normally as ever or a hot muggy day, when your body is covered in a sheen of sweat and you wonder why the British gave this city so much significance to begin with.

The unfamiliar fishy smell is one of your first encounters and once you are loaded and crammed into a rickshaw or taxi heading towards Andheri, you encounter the oceanic bustling size of the city, like an overcrowded reef with endless by-lanes and people living in burrow like homes on top, bottom, side, below staircase, on terrace, top left or bottom right corner of each other. In those moments while the actor (it's a gender neutral word) travels in the rickshaw getting a half view of this world outside, the weight of their ambition is nothing but overbearing.

Here you are, chasing your whim or ambition or dysfunction or passion or a need- of being a part of the 'industry'- in a land of strange weather and sea smells and a profusion of people. There have been actors I have known who went back the very next day itself, the ones who stayed- stayed because they probably had no better place to go back to or because their ambition was robust enough to take on the city, most times, it was a mix of both. I think it is at this early stage that the actor starts to set the parameters and the goals of this new journey.

They want to be artistically appreciated and accepted and nourished and nurtured while being financially rewarded for the same, all this while sticking to their own personal moral code of conduct- which is generally very close to the middle-class morality that they come from. Though not too far away into the future the moral code will be tested and prodded by all and sundry and it's utility questioned, nevertheless you hold them like a promise made to the self.

Act 1

After innumerable casting jaunts, where the Actor displays absolute humility and deploys every trick of a salesman, with deep faith and immense self-motivation, one does land a pitter-patter of a few jobs. There seems to be light at the end of the tunnel.

You start to create a network of friends, believers, competitors, non-believers and more importantly work associations, 'this is just stage 1 and must be built on' is what the actor keeps telling itself. By now the actor has crossed the 'money for casting racket' part but what comes next is far more jarring, the 'will you compromise' messages part. What takes you aback is the simple bluntness of it, all the horror stories of exploitation and clandestine flesh trade and secret kinky cults come alive in your head and it takes a lot to find faith around you again. You plod on.

Buoyed by the success Stage 1 the Actor goes at Stage 2 with even more ferocity and vitality. Networking and socializing become key words and tools to be applied for the graduation, it also aligns with the season of raging youth that the actor is in and there is no reason not to celebrate for what lies ahead. There are drinking soirees and clubbing and buddy bonding and escapades and all such things youthful, life really seems to be full and worth it. The Stage 2 battle awaits or unknowingly starts to evolve from within these rollicking times and though you might forget the dynamics of the game, the city does not.

After all, it is a business where unsullied youth is the most precious commodity and it always draws attention.

Now the Actor is propositioned not via messages but in person, that too by people they remotely had started to trust and then starts the process of slapping people (men in the case of women actors and homosexual men in the case of male actors), running away from parties, avoiding individuals, avoiding entrapment in empty flats or offices and what not. This is the first time that the individual starts to get the idea that 'favouritism' and 'nepotism' is at work, for though they steered clear of it, something tells them that there must be others who took up the proposition. You get this feeling that while you slept early and woke up early to go to gym and eat your soaked 'chana' you missed out some crucial casting opportunities the previous night.

Sure there is the art house, content driven, performance centric cinema emerging on the side lines and to be a part of them is also incredible but those films have their own obstacles of release and completion, so, no matter how much you abhor the mediocrity of mainstream cinema it is the only place you can build a career, brand and financial stability and what not.

Act 2

Your life by now is a video game where survival is key and you know the pitfalls and the rules, within your limitations, with military like discipline you go at it. Calls from back home are a mix of anxious and happy, for they have seen your photo in the papers or on the screen and see you getting absorbed into the Mumbai life. Your nay-sayers are disappointed and make it a point to convey it to you.

Lo and behold one day a call comes, you nail it in an audition, the team is convinced, the all-important meeting with Producer goes well and bang you are in a project as a key-cast. There are celebrations (even back in the hometown) and a dramatic signing ritual and promises of friendships and a better life ahead and et all. Work starts, rehearsals- costume trials- dance practice, the whole nine yards, once again you are cruising the town with your pals like a rapper video. You buy yourself a new phone, new shoes, get the year old dent on your car repaired, old friends get insecure and think you are changing while new friends assure you that you are ready for the 'next level', whatever that is, you continue to be you and focus on your project.

The sneaky thing in the project is that there are daily reminders that you have been given a 'break', initially you are graceful and thankful about it but then it becomes a recurring theme of the conversations as if the purpose of such talk is to make you feel beholden to the makers. Sometimes you are in two minds, as to stop an assistant or the costume person when they mention the 'break' funda to you, that, 'hello! would you like to know what it took to get here!!', but such talk is viewed as disruptive and disrespectful, and it dawns on you that you have now entered the realm of fiefdom and serfdom.

Here you are imagining yourself to be a vessel, not a vassal, that will deliver the narrative to the audience and there they seem to believe and imply that the Actor is getting a free ride to some fabled land of Arabian nights; narrative they can take care of, who needs actors in the face of their esteemed talent. Of course you are subtly told that this sloganeering arises from the fact that filmmaking is a very difficult business and the maker has to go through the gates of hell and all that standard talk, clearly none of them had been a struggling actor and faced those battles.

And now that, many years later, I have made my own film (Produced & Directed) I can say it empathically, no matter how absurd it sounds, filmmaking has numerous comfort zones, while acting/casting has none. Hence is easier.

'Chitrakut' will be releasing in cinemas soon (as soon as corona allows it), please keep an eye out for it.

Triggered by these initial projects the actor finds him/her self on even more projects, the work is welcome so are the services of a personal staff (you are given your own fief: of two serfs) and you find yourself in the company of other seasoned actors. Some of them are people you have already seen and admired on screen while some are still works in progress, like you. There is seldom a dull moment when you are with your tribe, the jokes, the warmth the shenanigans are unending. Most are open hearted entertainers and storytellers and pranksters and more importantly they understand you and each other with tenderness and listen and talk and give and take advice. Like normal life should be. Unfortunately, by now you are distant with your friends of yester years- no fault of theirs or yours- they can't fathom or understand the life you live (that of an actor) and thus can't empathise. You feel the isolation that you have worked your self into.

Mainstream films have their own disappointments, no matter how reputed the maker, they have a commercial purpose and until that is fulfilled there really is nothing to fuss about. Your costumes and 'look' is discussed far more than your character and God help you if you inquire about it. The assistants will make a joke about it- that this actor thinks about his character also. Your dance skills and fight skills are scrutinised as if you were supposed to be a dancer and fighter, not an actor. If by any chance you ask about your character again, some director will pull you aside and tell you, 'play yourself', just as Shah Rukh Khan plays himself in each movie. You want to say that, 'he does that because everyone wants him to, else he has divine range', but you resist disagreement and nod to get this bizarre discussion over soon. You tell yourself, 'In Rome do as a Roman' and become a moron.

Your 'Industrification' is now complete, you have achieved what you set out to do, and now, you really start to think of your life choices, no not like the fake dramatic type you did when you came to the city 9 years back. Like really.

Act 3

Submissiveness, Individuality, People of Power, Isolation and more…later. Click here to go to part 2, act 3.

*This is an unedited article contributed by Himanshu Malik. Click here to follow him on Instagram.

A new Kashmir in town: Jaipur's first Kashmir themed restaurant!

Suman Raina, a Kashmiri Pandit, starts a Houseboat themed Kashmiri restaurant, Zarpar in the heart of Pink city, Jaipur.

Dine in (Dewan Khana) area in Zarpar restaurant

This weekend, explore a Houseboat themed Kashmiri restaurant, Zarpar in the heart of Pink city, Jaipur. Sounds fun, right? Well, it is exciting to visit a place that has been themed on one of the greatest cultures of India. Suman Raina, 45, a Kashmiri pandit, with an aim to promote her own culture in a different city, started working on this restaurant in May 2017. The idea of celebrating your own culture and tradition and making Kashmiris living outside Kashmir aware of their own culture forced Suman to start Zarpar.

Keep reading... Show less

Mashup in Lucknow introduces an unlimited menu, which offers 50+ dishes @₹499/person!

Get your hands on unlimited food, fun & frolic at Mashup in Lucknow @ ₹499/person only!

While we're sure that Lucknowites have fallen in love with the bowling alleys at Mashup already, this posh cafe cum bar is now making an offer that we surely can't refuse! Get ready to be bowled over by the delectable delights at Mashup without burning a hole in your pockets as the folks here are offering an 'eat as much as you like' off their exclusive menu.

If you think that is all, it's only just half of the bargain. Continue reading to unfurl the details of this steal-deal that presents a wholesome mix of lip-smacking food menu with fun on the sides!

Keep reading... Show less

Indian Railways plan to complete Indore-Dahod broad gauge project by June 2024

Ministry of Railways resumes work on the Indore-Dahod railway line project, targets completion by 2024.

Work has restarted on the 204.76 km long Indore-Dahod broad gauge railway line project of the Western Railways, Ratlam Division. The project was put on hold in May 2020. As of last month, the Railway Board has given permission to restart work on the project. The ministry of railways targets the completion of this project by June 2024. The railway line runs Indore to Dahod via Pithampur, Dhar, Sardarpur, and Jhabua.
Keep reading... Show less

Kanpur's first indoor multi-sports  complex nears completion

Boosting the sports infrastructure of the city, Kanpur Municipal Corporation is coming up with an indoor sports complex at Palika Stadium soon

Under the ambit of the Smart City initiative, Kanpur Municipal Corporation is coming up with a one-of-its-kind complex in the city soon. Located at the Palika Stadium campus, this will be the first-ever indoor sports complex in Kanpur. With the completion of the Sports Convention Centre of Phase 1, this ambitious project is in its final leg of construction now. Read on to know more about Kanpur Municipal Corporation's sports project here.

Keep reading... Show less

UP crosses 24 crore vaccination mark; over 68 lakh doses administered in Lucknow!

Uttar Pradesh scales new high and becomes the first state to administer as many as 24.47 crore doses so far

Accelerating the pace of vaccination in top gear, Uttar Pradesh has crossed the 24-crore vaccination mark. As many as 24.47 crore doses have been administered in the state, including 24.26 lakh doses on Thursday. According to the health officials, more than four crore doses have been administered since the start of January which means an average of about 20 lakh doses were being administered every day.

Keep reading... Show less

Schools in Mumbai to resume offline classes from January 24

Apart from classes 1 to 12, the pre-primary schools will also resume physical classes in Maharashtra from Monday

Despite the rising COVID cases in Maharashtra, all schools in Mumbai and other districts of the state are set to resume physical classes from January 24. Apart from classes 1 to 12, the pre-primary schools will also be conducting offline classes from the next week in Maharashtra. As per the order released by the Maharashtra School Education Minister, Varsha Gaikwad, the reopening of schools will be carried out in line with the existing COVID protocols in the state.

Keep reading... Show less

With mercury dipping to 4.5°C, Lucknow turns colder than Shimla & Dehradun!

As per the forecast by the Indian Meteorological Department, the cold spell, possibly accompanied by thundershowers is set to continue for the next two days in Lucknow

With the intensifying winter chills in Lucknow, the city marked temperatures lower than hill stations like Dehradun and Shimla on Tuesday. The maximum temperature of the city was marked at 12.2°C, which was around 3 degrees lower than that in these hill stations. As per the forecast by the Indian Meteorological Department, the cold spell, possibly accompanied by thundershowers is set to continue for the next two days as well.

Keep reading... Show less

Most Read

Headlines

Lucknow

Kanpur

Trending

Jaipur

Indore

Goa

Mumbai