Have you ever dreamt and watched all of them crash down right in front of your eyes? Believe me, it is very painful to be living with a purpose only for it to fade away, in the blink of an eye.
Life in the film and television industry is fast-paced and it changes every second. While many feel that it is all about glitz, glamour and fame, the reality is way too tough a pill to swallow. Some of my personal experiences are these naked truths about this industry of which not many know about. It’s not only me but many like me who often have to experience this dark reality.
The sad part is that we all are helpless. Despite having encountered the tough reality, none would hardly speak of it because if we do so, we might end up getting our names enrolled in the bad books of the production houses and channels-which is tantamount to career suicide.
In the piece below, I would speak about one such harrowing experience of mine, which is quite common with both newcomers as well as some well-known actors.
Once, I was auditioned for a major role for a show in a private channel. My happiness knew no bounds when I learnt that I was shortlisted and have been called for the look test. I was indeed a happy woman, a lady on the verge of fulfilling her dreams. Later, on the day of trials and photoshoot, the measurement of my costume was also taken. Deep within, I was satisfied having reached this stage when I would finally be able to showcase my talent in front of hundreds and hundreds of people.
In the meantime, I had already signed a 24-page agreement with the channel which said that certain dates would have to be booked and I have to attend programs and awards shows organised by them. If they happen to ask me to perform a dance number or even host the show, I would have to do it according to my contract and would be paid with respect to that.
All went well and as I said-I was slowly edging towards my goal of becoming an actor. Unfortunately, my fate and dreams weren’t on the same page and destiny, had other plans for me. Coming back to the day of the trial of costume and photoshoot, I had to try different things like wigs, hairstyles, jewellery etc.
My story takes a turn down the wrong route from here on. The shoot (as I mentioned earlier) was due to start in two days and it did, but interestingly, there was no call time given to me. I was a bit taken aback by the development but was hopeful that sooner or later, I would be called. But it didn’t happen. When enquired, I was told that they would shoot outdoors before the rainy season begins and my work would resume only after a week.
I was relieved to some extent, having known the fact that I would be roped in as a part of the shoot in some time. To be honest, I believed them completely, as it was a reputed production house and channel and I had signed an agreement with them. But there was no phone call. Days passed and I kept waiting for my phone to ring, waiting for them to call and let me know my dates.
Sadly, my destiny had taken a completely different route and I was thoroughly unaware of it. Finally, I got to learn about the truth. After a gap of 15 days, I got a message in an audition group where the role I was supposed to enact was being advertised and applications for the same, were invited. I still remember that moment. It was as if the skies were breaking down upon me and I was losing the earth beneath me. All my dreams and aspirations seemed to fade away in a moment. It was indeed a tough job for me to get in terms with the truth. As I said, never in my wildest dreams did I even think that this would happen. Unfortunately, it did and I did not know how to deal with it.
In a desperate attempt to make sure that things are still alright, I called up the creative head, the casting head and the executive producer. My fears had come true. None of them responded to my calls and messages. The reality was hurting me more, and I was completely broken from the inside. It was only after some time that I learnt through a common friend that I had been replaced. It’s amazing how life changed for me completely, in a span of few days.
Later, the channel and the production house provided me with all sorts of ridiculous excuses-they said they had some issues with me without really clarifying to me what they exactly were. This was not how I had planned my life to be. Fate had been really cruel to me.
When I discussed this matter with a few friends, they suggested me to lodge a complaint against it. Honestly, I didn’t want to worsen the situation further. I knew that if I would have complained to anyone about my woes, then it would have backfired. Instead, people would take me to be a problematic individual and I could be left jobless as this is the industry through which I earn my bread.
I was completely helpless and there was nothing I could do about it. Time slowly taught me that playing the passive victim was the only way out of this. A painful realisation followed that these things were, an integral part of this industry.
Sometimes during moments of self-introspection, a question often comes to my mind. Do they not think of the mental trauma an actor has to go through? Do they have any emotion in them? I am yet to decipher an answer to it. Have you?
(The writer is a veteran actor with an experience of working in theatres as well as TVCs. Above all, she is a doting mother and an explorer, who would read anything to kill time.)