They are in the spotlight. Well, not always. They get up and go to work. Well, not every day. They get a pay cheque. Well, not every month.
They are all actors and they largely act for a living. But in these times of recession, assignments are not always on tap. The result — long gaps before they get to put their face on for the camera again. And other necessities on their mind besides that plum role — rents to pay, EMIs to honour, cars to maintain, sanity to preserve and depression to ward off. Hence, there is a Plan B. It may not always bring in the moolah but it does help them cope.
How to use his time constructively in-between projects has always been a challenge, says Rajesh Khera, last seen in Kambakkht Ishq, and the just-released Aage Se Right, but better known for his TV roles as Maddy in Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin, and Major Bhargav in Left Right Left. By his own admission, he has never been a very busy actor despite his 15 years facing the camera. “I never had a hobby and have always wanted to have one,” adds Khera. A week-long cooking course at the YMCA helped. “Now I find myself cooking for friends a lot more,” says the actor who claims he can dish out a mean mutton biryani.
Time to kill
Adventure sports caught his fancy with a trek to the Pindari glacier, after which he joined the biking group Whiteriders, headed by Kaustubh Mishra. He was one of a four-biker team on a 14-day recce to Ladakh, part of Mishra’s corporate training module. Of his latest venture, voiceover work, he says, “A hobby that can also bring you some money — now, that’s win-win. I wish I had pursued this earlier, there’s money to be made here.”
Despite having done 12 films and currently working on three more, he is still struggling for a firm foothold in the film industry. “I wouldn’t encourage anyone whose family is not rich to act,” he laughs. “I’ve always been used to lulls, but this year has been more of a lull than before.”
For Vikram Kapadia, though, keeping busy is not difficult. Last seen in the television serial K Street Pali Hill, Kapadia is now busy scripting director Aziz Mirza’s new untitled film, and has written 26 episodes for Yash Raj’s new teleserial. He also runs a theatre company and has been busy with his acclaimed play Black with Equal. “With a play, there’s always a process. You do one show, you plan the next.So there’s not much waiting,” he says. Kapadia has also been training in classical music under guru Krishna Bhat for two years. “As a performer, you are constantly using your voice, body, and mind. I thought my voice lagged behind, so I figured that training in classical music would be good for me. Now, I can pitch and catch a tune, so it feels good,” he smiles.
For Ashwin Mushran, now showing as Dr Django in Quick Gun Murugun, and who played Priyanka Chopra’s buddy in Fashion and the negligent son in Lage Raho Munnabhai, this year has been the longest wait for a project. “It’s been seven months… I usually start getting the jitters within a few days of no work,” he says.
Though voiceover work for film, dubbing, acting in ad films and corporate AVs have kept him going, new projects are nowhere in sight. Mushran is a salsa instructor who self progressed into deejaying. (“I know the dance, so I have a flair for the music”). He has deejayed for several salsa festivals, including recent ones in Bangalore and Malaysia. The trigger-happy Mushran is also quite a creator with the camera, and has a repertoire of travel pictures that he plans to exhibit some day.
However, Richa Chadda, who played the heroine’s sister Dolly in Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye and will be seen in Benny Aur Bablu in December, believes there is no such thing as ‘waiting’. “As an actor, you have to indulge in some acting-related activity every day. A writer writes, a singer sings, but an actor cannot be in front of the camera every day. So you find something else that is part of the riyaaz,” she says.
Chadda found hers in kalaripayattu, Kerala’s ancient martial art. “I like the physical challenge of martial arts, the concept of an animal stance and locking your opponent,” she says. Besides improving her posture tremendously and being a great workout, she says, “It is almost meditative; it instils a great sense of calmness, helps you centre yourself and reach the core of your being, which is great for screen presence.”
To each their own.