My grand ma told me ‘even if you want to be a mali (gardener) you must aim to be the best in your profession’!!
Looking back, this one sentence has driven me to do a lot of hard work, in the sense that I have taken up long, in fact, very long hours of rehearsals.
The look test (which has hours of discussion with the stylist or designer about the costume, jewellery, hair n’ make up), understanding the psychology and thought process, the language (my weak point – hence even more effort) etc.
Though I must admit during my heydays of shooting, when I was running from one set to another and working on 12 films in a year, all 360 days and at times 18 hours in a day, I never got a chance to rehearse.
There were directors who insisted upon rehearsals back then too (and it definitely showed in the final product). I feel a genius is a product of anxiety filled with long hours of hard work. A genius would have efforts totally focused to bring out that ‘lil extra in the character, beyond what writer has written or director has imagined (if that is possible because I have seen good directors have thought about various aspects themselves😉)
So, before we go onto the set, one is totally relaxed and lets the intuition guide oneself. We train enough and not more. What I mean is that we need to be a lot flexible because our sets, lighting, actors are all fluid.
We need to have flexibility to be able to blend accordingly to the last-minute changes. Ha, you might think its tough, it is! But artists are trained and this is what separates a good performance to an exceptional one. Who does this? An ARTIST!
When Vinod Chopra told me that I was a shit actress and it was a turning point in my acting career as that drove me to put in relentless long hours to understand why.
Since then I haven’t looked back.