Bollywood actor and theatre personality, Anupam Kher recalled his student days at the National School of Drama (NSD) when he visited the campus last week for the 17th Bharat Rang Mahotsav. He held an interactive session with the students where he talked about a gamut of issues. He addressed a group of students, answered their queries and gave them suggestions to improve their acting skills as well as hone their talent better for the real struggles of the world. Excerpts:
I was not from an acting background. I didn’t even know that they are actually books that can teach you acting when I enrolled in NSD. I realised later on that anyone who can lie can act. After all, that is all you do. If you can lie convincingly, you can act. Acting is the only course where your mind has to do the least work. You don’t have to decide how your limbs will go, how should you react to a situation because all that is predefined for you. So the most important thing is to use your memory. You remember your triggers, what makes you cry or laugh and then use the memory to get that emotion.
Here at NSD, I had classmates like Anant Desai who were immensely talented and even though I was great friends with them, I had always considered them competition. (To the students) this is the phase in your life where you make new friends, you want to hang out with them, and unfortunately many of you will lose focus because of that. You end up forgetting why you came here; you lose focus and become mediocre. The important thing is to retain your individuality and that is what is crucial when you go to the film industry. As a student, be hungry, lonely and frustrated and that will help you achieve your dreams. Dream big and be uncomfortable with your current situation. Even today, I don’t consider my Bollywood contemporaries my competition; my competitors are Al Pacino and Robert De Niro.
On free speech
Freedom of speech comes with responsibility. However much I may want to be funny it is important to follow your own instinct. I haven’t seen the AIB Roast so I can’t comment on it, but what I can say is that it is easy to make someone laugh on abuses. We have to consider the country we live in. If you make fun of women on stage it goes straight to women who are harassed in small towns. I saw this young kid abusing another kid in Hindi when asked about why he was abusing the boy replied ‘I am not abusing you, I am roasting you’. Is that what we want?