As the sun spreads over Elliot’s beach on a Sunday morning, some forty young men zip about the sand, practising lines and enacting scenes. They growl, wail, and laugh as curious passers-by stop and stare. The men are from various fields: Students, IT professionals… It’s love for acting that has brought them all together. As members of Raging Bull Actors Studio, they hope to master the art of cinematic acting, and one day see themselves on the big screen.
As you read this, it’s possible that a man with a duffel bag and hopeful eyes gets off a long-distance bus at Koyambedu Bus Stand to try his luck at the movies. But with nothing but a portfolio of photos and a passion for acting, it’s less likely that he’ll make any headway in an industry where hundreds wait for that one chance. How does one go about it then? Is there an organised way for aspiring actors to succeed? Jack Prabhu, the founder and director of Raging Bull, hopes his school will be one.
“If a person wants to become a doctor or engineer, he can simply enrol himself in a college. But if he wants to be an actor, there are no proper channels he can go by,” feels Jack. He teaches cinematic acting at his studio in Royapettah that was opened in January this year.
Jack also trains actors in the industry. “I too wanted to become an actor,” he smiles. But he decided to teach acting instead. “When I realised there were very few people who create good actors, I took up the role,” says Jack. Raging Bull was started as an acting club in 2007. Today, they teach three month-long cinematic acting courses at their studio. “One cannot become an actor in these three months though,” says Jack. “The course will give one an idea about acting and what it takes to be an actor. It takes constant practice to master the craft.”
Jack learned acting from Kaladhar of the Nadigar Sangam. His favourite actors include Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Nasser.
He says that he trains his students to be such “actors and not heroes”. For, cinematic acting is not just about dancing and stunts. He trains his students to “react and not act”, the foremost principle of method acting. “Anyone can act,” he feels. “
All we have to do is train them to behave the way they would when they are in a situation similar to the character they play.” Jack explains that he follows Stella Adler’s acting technique. “But I touch upon only 10 per cent of method acting,” he feels, adding that the technique is like an ocean which will take a lifetime to master.
“My students do not stop once the course is over. They meet at the studio during weekends and practise scenes and dialogues. They enact the scenes every Sunday at Elliot’s from 6.30 a.m. to 7.30 a.m.,” says Jack. For an hour from 5.30 a.m. onwards, he trains, apart from his students, those passionate about acting, for free. The free workshops are his way of bringing out good talent. “It’s important that a good actor gets a stage,” he feels.
Through auditions at their studio and outside, Raging Bull students have gone on to act in movies such as Vadacurry , Meaghamann , and the soon-to-release O Kadhal Kanmani . “Directors feel that there is a dearth of trained actors,” says Jack. “If you’re good in the craft and keep at it, you can definitely make it. Art is not an inborn gift. It can be acquired.”