An acting workshop for budding actors saw many participants making a beeline for it, finds out VIDHU JOHN

They came from as far away as Pune and Mumbai. People of different age groups and from different professions united by a single passion and a dream of making it big in films ! To them this was a stepping stone to bigger things. This being the two-day acting workshop – The Glamour Furnace organised on September 1 and 2 by the producers of the TV show, ‘Sensations’.

The acting workshop proved to be a platform for aspiring actors to meet their idols from the film industry and acting. It was also an education in what lies behind all the glamour and fame, an eye-opener into the technical and related aspects of cinema.

Among those who shared their experiences in showbiz included artistes such as Thilakan, Lena and Suja Karthika, directors Kamal and Anil Babu, technician Sabu James and instructor N. K. Sajeev (both of whom work at Film and Television Institute of India, Pune) and scenarist Kalavoor Ravikumar.

New world

There were around 50 eager listeners who had gathered for lessons from these people. The journey, literal and figurative, into this new world has been an adventure for many of the participants and as with all adventures, illuminating. Prashant Padmakumaran from Pune talked about his reasons for being there. “There is a point up to which your family can help you. Beyond that you need professionals. This workshop has put us in touch with people who have know-how in films. From them we can learn how to express ourselves, how to use body language, about body control. In them, we have role models who we can try to be like,” he says.

He also spoke of his journey to the venue, of how he had travelled from Kayamkulam (he had stopped off for a short visit with relatives) only to arrive in Kochi too late to secure accommodation and thus being forced to spend the night as he put it “on the footpath.” This ‘adventure’ speaks volumes of a passion for acting – the common denominator for the entire crowd.

Interestingly, a few professionals who had ceded to the ‘compulsive inner voice’ were also present at the workshop. Lakshmi Nair, a final year MBBS student, is one such person. She says that although she didn’t consider it a platform for a launch it would be one upon which to make decisions regarding her choice of career . “I always had this nagging feeling that I should be acting, that I have the raw talent. But the importance of a profession has always been stressed in my family. I’ve decided to take the plunge, an acid test and here I am for that.” She feels that this is an experience that few are blessed with and that the advices and tips from experienced artistes will give them a measure of control, if and when they make it.

As for Julia George from Kannur, she feels that the workshop has been an ideal occasion to associate with like-minded people. Society responds negatively when one expresses a desire to act, she feels, and listening to people who have been successful is a definite morale booster. “All this while we’ve been pursuing others’ dreams, well, it’s time to pursue our own,” she adds.

The two–day marathon course was more than just a platform to launch a career or to meet like-minded people. While Thilakan spoke of his experiences, (giving an insight into the Malayalam film industry) he gave liberal doses of advice and outlined the ‘must-have’ qualities and a ‘should do’ list for aspiring artistes, director Kamal spoke from a director’s perspective of an actor and gave tips on how to mould oneself into such an actor. Kalavoor Ravikumar and Anil Babu focussed on how to make an entry into the field and then, more importantly, on how to survive there . N.K. Sajeev’s session comprised exercises to enable effective use of body language –physical acting, and voice modulation, while Sabu James’s consisted of stints before the camera. Lena, as a trained Clinical Psychologist, spoke of the psychology in acting, among other things, and Suja Karthika set drills to spot talent and improve on it.

The workshop was, in short, as Parika, 18, a Mumbaikar put it, “A crash course on how to act.” Other’s agreed that the exercises they were put through compelled them to let go of their inhibitions and to get into the skin of the characters. What ever their reasons for being there and how ever much or little they may have gained from the time here, there is no doubting their enthusiasm or passion. (Or their parents’, for that matter!) This is definitely a group of youngsters with a vision, tenaciously keeping that ‘spark’ in them alive.

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