Thursday, November 17, 2011

What the F*$#?: ACTORS ARE CATTLE- PART 2


A director friend of mine once commented –“I have no problems with actors till they attempt to use their non existent brains…” Which does sort of fit in with the way a theatre director describes actors in an episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S – “my talking props.” Actors somehow seem to be the butt of everyone’s jibes – they’re everyone’s favourite dart board. So much so that after last week’s article some of my friends shared their best WTF moments with actors. And I’d like to begin this week’s column with one of those.


This is thanks to Harini Calamur – writer, producer, director, professor, blogger, slave to a beastly hound – all round ‘live-r’ of life and one of my oldest, closest friends.



PARAYE MARD KE SAATH SONA – HAAUUUUUUWWWWWW

In Harini’s words – “I was shooting this thingee ... and the creative called for the mother to be woken up in the middle of the night to go to her crying child. The "actor" refused to comply. I am married to someone else. I can't be shown in bed with another man. This when she was fully clothed, and on different ends of a king sized bed... *GRRRRR*.”


Interesting that she was ok with being shown as the mother of some other man’s child. But then this is India where babies are Bhagwaan ki vardaan.” Sex has nothing to do with our 1 billion plus population, does it. Which is why sex education is taboo but the number of teenage pregnancies and abortions mount alarmingly. Ah well…


OH BUTTERFLY
So there we are at the home of this young star (I really cannot call him an actor after seeing his last 3 films), narrating our script. The role was a lead one and that of a suicide bomber and consequently the narration had more than it’s share of tense, dramatic moments. Little did we know however that the most dramatic moment of all would be provided by the star! (Like I said footage khaus)

I had just gotten to the point where the character has a gun pointed at his head and is within inches of saying ta ta bye bye to the world when there was a loud screech and we saw the star jumping 6 feet into the air. And then racing out of the room. For a brief second I allowed myself the vanity of thinking my narration had been so stirring that the star had actually experienced his near death experience.


Fat chance. The star’s servant charged in and proceeded to bustle around the room with a broom. Turns out a BUTTERFLY had entered the room and guess what – said star is terrified of them!. Now I don’t want to mock anyone’s phobias – people can be scared of anything from eating peanut butter (arachibutyrophobia) to the number 13 (triskaidekaphobia). But behaving like a kangaroo executing a double back flip and howling like a banshee at the same time – thoda overacting nahin lagta hai? Wait a minute – why did I expect anything different – I saw his last film!!!


Ok now to wind up coming to the two categories of actors I genuinely loathe – what’s that you’re saying? One more story? Hmmmm… for love? Alrighty then.


YEH KNEE MUJHE DE DE WRITER


Ok I swear I’m not making this up. And yes the lady I’m talking about is probably the cuckoo-est actor I have yet met in this business. But one never knows what the morrow will bring.


Anyway cut to another narration – this being for a songless thriller, the main protagonist being a woman. Now this entire project had been built around this actress cause of where the funding was coming from – but let’s not go there.

The nub of the story is when we were narrating the script to the actress for the first time. So I finish my entire telling and turn to lady for her reaction. And what she did made me want to execute the kind of jump I described in previous anecdote. She looked soulfully into my eyes, grabbed my knee and hissed – “Mere liye 6 acche gaane likh dijiye Anand jee, Madhuri Dixit waale.”


Now I’m goggling. When exactly during the narration had I metamorphosed into a music composer/song writer? Also wasn’t ‘Main Madhuri Dixit banna chahti hoon’ a tad passé? And most importantly why was she still squeezing my knee? Did she think it was some erogenous zone or pleasure centre that would have me melting and succumbing to her demands? (KNEECH–KAMI-KNEE– Sorry couldn’t resist that).


I thought I was staring at her stunned and aghast at the ludicrousness of it all. But my director tells me I was glaring at her as if to say –“Get your paws off my knee bitch before I break them off.”  What to say I find this kind of bindaas molestation very ‘knee’dless. OK. SORRY. I’ll stop.

But not before talking about the two detestable kinds of actors:


  1. The “INTELLIGENT” actorPlease to note, intelligence is in quotes. I have no problem with intelligent, thinking, smart actors. The trouble comes like my director friend said with the ones who attempt to flex their non existent cranial muscles. Like the ones who ask – So in this scene where I drink a cup of tea and put it down – where is my character coming from? What’s his childhood angst?
There is only one response to this utterly pseudo intellectual bullcrap. As my brother would respond – “You were never given teddy bears or rubber duckys as a kid, your parents locked you in the cupboard, and you were made to eat boiled eggs with jam. Now bring this all out in the scene where you drink your tea and put the cup down without any dialogues or props.” KHATAM SHUD

  1. THE “STAR” actor – Again please note, there are STARS and then there are those who have starry nakras. These could also be people who have been signed for a TV show and shot for just two days, these could be those waiting to be cast opposite Ranbir Kapoor in a K Jo film. Tantrums have nothing to do with being a STAR. So be it ordering food for 25 people from a 5 star at the producer’s expense and then taking it all home or flinging chai etc at a hapless assistant or turning up late or saying Aaj Mood Nahin Hai. The stories are endless, but the behaviour is just not acceptable.
Fact is the reason everyone in the business hates actors is that they make the most money and get the most attention. Plus there’s the belief that every other person involved with making a film/TV show works longer and harder than actors. I agree with the former - the actor is never the first person who arrives on set but (s)he always gets to leave first. The latter – not so much – actors have a very physically and emotionally demanding job – it’s their bodies, their emotions, their souls that are laid out on screen and to get it right they have to give it their all. True a lot of them give nothing at all but that’s their individual failing – that cannot demean the position of actors as a whole.


But the trouble comes when to add to this already existing bias and ill-feeling, actors behave badly, throw their weight around, make the lives of people around miserable. That’s when one is tempted to paraphrase Walter Winchell - “Bollywood is where they shoot too many pictures and not enough actors.”

‘Nuff said.

Anand Sivakumaran
Rangmunch.TV

5 comments:

  1. Two sides of the coin... Interesting!

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  2. As an Actor..i hear you and have to agree.. lovely insight.. thanks!

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  3. haha! i likes verys muchs :-)
    Anand....... it's your humour and intelligence that makes me completely side with you (and me being the ignored writer does help)
    sharing this one - SUhana

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  4. wonderful anand. ek teer se bahot sare shikar kar diye aapne. great going.

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