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By Arijit Dutta, Managing Director, Priya Entertainments Pvt Ltd, Pioneers in Entertainment and Eco Adventure Tourism in Eastern India. Dutta has acted in over 50 films including Madras Cafe.
The word acting comes from the Latin word ‘agere’ meaning ‘to do’. The basic job of an actor is to restrain or augment the aspects of his/her actual self to create the actions and motivations characters being portrayed on screen
The actor is said to be ‘assuming the role’ of another character or trying to get into the shoes of other character, fictitious or otherwise , usually for the benefit of an audience, but also because it can bring one a sense of artistic satisfaction.
According to a Greek legend the first actor was Thespis of Greece, the word thespian is derived from his name.
Acting as a career
Acting is not everyone’s cup of tea and perhaps the most difficult things one can aspire for, professionally speaking. This field has a lot of competition and many looking to make it big, so that extra level of effort is required in order to get hired.
Memorizing line sand ability to follow the director and attend as many auditions as possible. Actors must be able to work long hours to meet deadlines. They must also be comfortable doing a wide range of scenes and playing various roles, due to lack of choices for newcomers.
It is said that actors are born and not made. Well the acting schools of today specialize in making actors. Even otherwise to become a thorough professional an upcoming actor not only needs to hone the acting skills but also other finer points.
A formal training and education program gives a person exposure, it increases the success rate factor. The minimum educational qualifications required to get admitted in such a course is ‘a degree in graduation in any discipline from a recognized university in India’.
A good command over the chosen language of instruction is mandatory. Experience in drama productions in the school or amateur drama troupes is needed. The National School of Drama, New Delhi offers a course in the Diploma course in Dramatic Arts, recognized by the Government of India for recruitment to superior services under the Union Government. Specialization in the field of Dramatics is needed as is a degree in graduation with at least 10 years of experience.
Government of India offers job opportunities in different fields like news readers in Doordarshan, Aakashwaani, and teaching posts in FTII, Pune and National School of Drama, New Delhi. Increasing popularity gained by Satellite Channels has resulted in great job opportunities coming up in the private sector too. Different private acting schools offering courses in acting also have tie-ups with some film producers giving opportunities for students getting a break in acting.
More about the profession
The main responsibility of an actor is to communicate a particular situation and character to an audience using body language, speech, gestures, expressions, and any or all other forms of communication tools. Actors work with directors, writers and technicians to create content for cinema, television , stage plays, advertisement, still and video etc.
Actors who do live performances must be able to deal cope with stage fright, and always be extremely prepared and accurate. The scope of margin of error is greater when it comes to pre-recorded performances, but actors still need to be at their best.
It entails a significant amount of networking, PR and remaining visible in offices of productions houses. Budding actors need to attend auditions for talent exposure to the producers. If hired, actors are normally briefed about the work they are supposed to do and given scripts. Once the script has been memorized, they must attend the rehearsals or shootings, depending on the type of production they are going to act in.
Some of the world’s best actors have no more than a high school diploma, but with increasing levels of competition in the field, training and formal education in the field of acting can help.. Acting institutes teach essential skills as from dancing, performing stunts, and the rest. Many colleges and universities offer a four-year undergraduate degree in performance arts as well.
Understanding the role
Performing artists are creative people. Actors need to understand and interpret the roles they are given. They then use their emotions or feelings to portray the character, performing in close coordination with co-stars.
They work either for stage performances, or in films, television and radio. Some actors specialise in one medium.
Actors are hired for a particular film for either a main role or for a side role. The whole production may take months, so the actor may be involved over a long term or during some shots.
Actors are usually employed for one particular program, or for long-running serials. TV work requires special skills for working with camera. Actors may also specialise in radio plays. Many actors work in commercial advertising where they either appear in commercials or lend their voice.
It requires working almost continuously for the duration of the show, while there may be long breaks in films, and to a lesser extent in television.
Learn & Rehearse
There can be a good deal of sitting around waiting for the next scene to be recorded. The actor has to learn his part and rehearse the play.
Path towards attaining success
A combination of talent and training and ability to work hard is the path towards becoming an actor. Finding a good director working as his/her assistant after going through an institutionalised training program can be path towards attaining success.
Life of an actor
Many people dream of becoming actors and actresses but few understand what life as an actor actually entails. If you are new to the field, you should be prepared to work long hours and hop from one small project to another.
Once you have made a name for yourself in the acting industry, you should be prepared to live a very public life. The paparazzi will always be looking to out private details of your life. You might have to attend talk shows and travel frequently for various professional commitments.
Much of your time will be spent memorizing lines or repeating scenes over and over again, and less of it will be spent at award ceremonies and on the all-elusive red carpet. Even still, actors and actresses live exciting lives where no two days are the same.
Salary and Perks
There are a number of perks associated with a career in acting. If you manage to get successful, you may attain demigod status and you will have loyal fans who will simply adore you. Not only will you earn a lot of money, but you will never get bored while out at work. You can attain worldwide fame if you make it big in acting, and this will enable you to influence people all over the globe.
Some of Bollywood’s top actors and actresses get paid as much as 5 crore rupees. Actors who are not yet established can earn as little as Rs. 20,000 per month, but since most actors get paid per project, earnings may fluctuate. The arnings are augmented by endorsements, ad films, still shoots, brand launch appearance etc.
The average annual salary of an actor in the United States is $51,000. However, established actors earn tens of millions of dollars a year and the earning potential is enormous.
The reputation of an artist determines the income. While a start up artist may get as little as Rs 500 for a show, established artists earn in lakhs. Theatre pays either nothing or about Rs 1,500 per show to beginners.
A beginner in television would earn between Rs 1,500-3,000 per episode. For a weekday serial, that amounts to about Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000 per month. As the actor’s reputation rises, so does his or her earnings.
The Associated Broadcasting Company Ltd (ABCL)
TV Studios in India
It does not guarantee a steady income or salary unless you are tied up with any Governmnt institutions. But success brings you a lifestyle of your dreams.
It is a Competitive world
The glamour, money and razzmatazz of the career is bringing in people by the hordes to this profession and lot many people are opting for the career and it is steadily growing.
Competition is extremely fierce in this field, especially at entry level. Only the most talented actors and actresses will find success in this profession.
Mumbai, the home of Bollywood is the fastest growing movie industry in the world and offers the maximum possibilities. Also down South India, a thriving movie industry also offers a lot of opportunities. For a theatre career, New York City is certainly the best place in the world to do so. Los Angeles is the epicentre of English films again offers a good possibility for opportunities along with France.
General Requirements for admission
Std XII/ Graduation
Diploma in Dramatics/Acting
Ability to enter a character’s shoes when performing
Stamina for long rehearsals, shoots or performances
Clear speech & diction, voice control
Love for the art
Adaptability, ability to work with a team, discipline and responsibility
Empathy & imagination to understand & express the emotions of characters
Resilience & ability to cope with uncertain
Uninhibited before unfamiliar audiences
Good memory to learn/memorise one’s part
Ability to honour long-term time commitments
Patience, dedication and hard work
Talent, intelligence, vivid creativity and self-confidence. Ability to sing and dance can improve prospects
Mental & physical strength to cope with the demands of the job
Good general health is also important
Prime Institutes for this career in India
National School Of Drama
Natsamrat Theatre Group
Asmita Theatre Group
Kshitij Theatre Group
Jana Natya Manch
The Drama School
Asian Academy of Film and Television
Darpana Academy of Performing Arts
National School of Drama
Bhartendu Academy of Dramatic Arts, Lucknow
Bhatkhande Music Institute University, Lucknow
Imago Acting School. New Delhi
ITC Sangeet Research Academy, Kolkata
National Center for the Performing Arts, Mumbai
Sahitya Kala Parishad, New Delhi
Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi