VINAY JAIN ON BUDHHISM, ACTING AND THE EXPERIENCE OF BEING
Posted by Vivek on September 6, 2009 | 1 Comment
For a South Mumbai guy, from Champion School, Sydenham college, academically bright, did it feel awkward when you started your journey as an actor, to the effect of “this is below me or what my qualifications are?”
Not because one started off precisely because one felt passionately about it. In fact in Sydenham I was in the top five in the class and have taken my GMAT to do my MBA abroad. So in a sense the decision making was challenging because I was good academically and also your peer’s who want to get into a certain college, but you have that percentage, but don’t really use it. Also it is only in the last few years that Media and Entertainment have become bonafide professional options, but back when I was getting into it, that wasn’t the case. It was more in the transition stage. But the battle was more within my life on whether it was a viable career option. My dad was in advertising and he had done his own thing in life, so in that sense there was full support, so it was more about me being clear about it, and I took my time. Also I was doing theater through school and college too and had a natural inclination towards those things, and was also getting the professional experience in that field. So as I was passing out of college I had got the hands on experience of what it was all about, and that helped the decision.
Theater, film, television…rank that ?
In terms of the challenge, I find theater most challenging in terms of performance; it is like every night is a fresh start. It is a new audience and your vibes are new and they have to pick up those vibes, irrespective of genre. So in those terms it is exciting, there is a tinge that goes down your spine every time you are performing. But I find film very exciting in terms of totality. Television on the other hand is more of a writer’s medium. Television would probably rank the lowest, for the actor, in terms of personal satisfaction, since it is most time driven and for a good reason, there are deadlines to be met, budgetary constraints, but if can be used positively to develop oneself. So in a way each one has got its own set of unique challenges. So as one who dabbles in all three, it is like constantly shifting gears and a personal challenge to always adapt myself.
Your upcoming and recent projects?
Television my last big project was by Rajshri called, Woh Rehne Wali Mehelon Ki which completed like a 1000 episodes although I came in somewhere in the middle ,and, Jassi Jaise Koi Nahin, two of the highest rated shows here. After that it has been a bit of a break from television. Last year have done the film, Cheeni Kum., thereafter 13B, a recent project with Pankaj Kapoor called Office Office – The Movie, which is a movie adaptation of the popular serial by the same name, but with some fresh cast members to complement the existing cast members from the serial, another medium budget film called Kartik with Farhan Akhtar, so the focus has been more on wanting to do the film work. Also toured the US, with playright Feroz Khan and his Mahatma Vs Gandhi, play, some time back and the play, Salesman Ramlal, by Satish Kaushik. Hence got an opportunity to perform in the US a couple of times.
So more so in India, we have this fascination with film families, the hero’s son, generally has to play the role of a hero. Does that ever bother the actor in you, as to why there roles are coming as pre assigned, genetically, as opposed to skillset ?
Early on those things used to bother me, but as you understand life, it is like, if you have to make it, you will. I mean you look at Shah Rukh Khan or a Govinda or for that matter Anil Kapoor, they’ve worked their way up. I mean, yes Anil had Boney, but Boney Kapoor became “Boney Kapoor,” later. Or an Irfan Khan, who has pitched his tent. Same with the girls. So in that sense an actor more than anything else really needs to enjoy his profession. So passion is very important along with single minded doggedness. Cause one does not know, it is about being at the right place at the right time, the right role, the right vehicle for you, like what a Satya did for a Manoj Bajpai. So it’s a roller coaster ride, enjoy it and ride it at every stage of the ride. There are times when nothing is coming and one needs to go through those periods and keep on working on yourself, I think that is important and not necessarily in the gym, but in every which way, like spiritually, developing yourself, a lot of acting is what you are as a human.
Do you think that the kind of films that are coming out now are better in subject matter and offer more for the actors, as opposed to just the stars?
Being a practicing Buddhist, are you able to handle this roller coaster ride better and also does it help you as an actor?
Without a doubt. I’ve been practicing Buddhism close to a decade now and it plays a huge role in shaping my belief system, the way I see life has undergone a total change, the way I perceive situations, they way I judge people, the way I’m able to deal with life on a moment by moment basis, because Buddhism is about hope and optimism and courage and determination. In this line you always feel that your life depends on something else or someone else whereas now I feel more in control of myself and my life. I can give it a sense of direction.
Taking time off from acting, observing real people, real situations..does that enhance your skills as an actor?
Most definitely. I mean a combination of observing and experiencing life. Experiencing life more so, I mean I got married a little over four years ago and now I have a three year old son. So as a father the real wonderful thing has been to spend the last one year with my son, which was not an opportunity I had the two years prior to that since I was caught up in television work and the last one year has been a formative stage in his life and every day is a new day and a new experience. So that quality time that I have got to spend with him is definitely having a bearing on me and that will 100% reflect in the future roles that I do. It also develops me emotionally, being a father, being a husband. So the growth as an individual, as an actor is not borrowed learning of life.
So with the intelligence that you do have and the acting experience, any aspirations to explore other creative aspects, along with acting ?
Yes so as I said, film is primarily a director’s medium. An actor can only contribute that much to a film. So the idea does excite me. When I worked as an Assistant Director for three years in a feature film, the interest was definitely there in that area but when that will take a complete form I don’t know, at this point of time I’m really enjoying my acting and can express myself more that way. So a natural progression down the road maybe to dabble in full fledged direction.
Overall development of television, from the time your started ?
The quality of performers has increased tremendously. A lot of the younger performers are getting very good. Earlier I used to remember it would take longer for someone starting out to become proficient, nowadays they seem to be quick off the mark. In terms of acting, when you compare to the West in television, I think we are right there.
So it the West beckons ?
I’m comfortable with the language. A lot of theater that I’ve done is in English. For me a role is a role, whether from West or here. What really excites me is the project in total, as opposed to the micro level of my role and the length of it. I’m ok with it being an out and out entertainer but it should be true to itself and not be something that it is not. So I’d be more excited to be a part of the story telling process. Of course the role should excite me as an actor, but the length really is not of utmost importance to me.
Interviewed by Vivek Kumar