Travel and acting – broaden the mind, new experiences to enhance your ability to be truthful as an actor
The story of my Bollywood experiences is coming soon. For now, the precursor to that:
In many ways, I feel that had I not traveled to India, I may not have had the courage to become and actor, and take the precarious path I tread today. India is like a training ground where one can take what they’ve learned and put it to good use. Once you have experienced some of the country, you can then head to Bollywood at the end. That, at least, was what I did.
It was my last week in India and I was honestly ready for home by this point. I had seen and done so much. India is a nation with an overwhelming breadth and depth. It feels like a collection of countries rather than just one (which it essentially is, but there’s no time here to get bogged down in history). I saw as much as my eyes could possibly take in at any given moment. Including Tibet from a remote 1000-year old monastery:
Kashmir for what it really is – a beautiful and misunderstood land:
Getting trapped on a snowy mountain pass at 4500 metres above sea level:
And Golden temples that have seen more bloodshed over the last century than most other areas of India:
I had come to Mumbai to see about getting closer to the film industry; something I tended to always gravitate towards since a young age. I had written for a guidebook and had some articles published in the Indian daily national paper – The Statesman, but acting was still the irrepressible desire that would not sit quietly.
I would recommend a visit to India to every single aspiring actor. Why? Because every day I experienced the full spectrum of human emotion. Every day for five months is exhausting. But if you are a method actor and you pay special attention to these emotions whilst you feel them, in order to have a clearer emotion memory, then India really is the place to go.
Each of the photos above represent a tiny fraction of 5 months, but each came with a number of conflicting emotions.
The view to Tibet was awe inspiring. Truly one of the best days I ever had. I was dumb struck. This vast plateau of mountains which stretch for hundreds of miles in all directions. A place where hardly any vegetation grows, yet people have been subsiding there for thousands of years, relatively untouched by the outside world. Yet I was suffering altitude sickness.
Kashmir represents more than I can recount here. Sadness at meeting generous people, caught in the middle of a power struggle that turned nuclear. As a result, many people’s livelihoods, supported by a once healthy travel industry, were obliterated. Beautiful Mughal gardens bear testament to India’s rich history, and the sound of the call to prayer reverberating across Dal Lake at sunset provided moments of true serenity in this land at war.
The snowy Kunzum Pass. Mostly fear because snow had set in. It was early November and once the snows came, this pass, the only access to the valley I had been staying, remained closed until the next spring. The roads were treacherous and we drove along at 10 miles an hour for 12 hours, along narrow dirt tracks which overlooked sheer drops.
And Amritsar, a bustling, infuriatingly overcrowded city, with the Golden Temple at its heart, where everything is free, self contained (including their own water), and provided by thousands of volunteers daily. A site of pilgrimage, of faith, joy and belief. A site which also bears the scars of bullets and tanks during a number of bloody massacres that have gripped the city over the last century.
These conflicting emotions remain etched into my mind, and I often use the emotional memories to satisfy my acting depending on the scene. I felt as though 5 months in India provided me with more living experience than 21 years in the U.K. had.
If you want to act, travel first. If you want to write, travel first. Real life experience will infuse your work with so much more truth than if you were sitting trapped in the comfort of routine.
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