Being An Artiste – Part 2

AlexAlexander Babu is a standup comedian performing with evam Standup Tamasha. Alex manages to stay on the beat when he plays the Tabla.

Otherwise, he is an off-beat guy – a christian learning carnatic music and teaching Yoga; a village boy from Tamil medium school doing standup comedy in English; and a responsible dad who quit his job when his kids started kindergarten.


“You can’t be playing cricket five days a week but aspire to win the swimming championship” the famous film director told me once. I was telling him that I want to be in movies and but not ready to quit my regular job unless I have a steady start. He said “It is obvious. You should be here, if you want to make it here”. Around the same time, I met this senior reputed filmmaker. I told him about my acting aspirations. He immediately turned to my wife and said “whatever it is, don’t let him quit his job”.

That was about ten years ago. The social media and YouTube weren’t this active. The movie opportunities looked interesting. Nothing in between such as television etc. looked creatively engaging. The opportunities and avenues to get into movies were considerably less. Making it up there needed blind faith, enormous courage and one big heck of a gut. Statistics and numbers would be staring at you. Very small percentage of artistes make it to the top. Very tiny percentage of movies see the light at the end of the script. Very few startup companies stay around beyond a few years. Numbers don’t lie. But you just can’t let the numbers look at you. You have to keep the winner’s state of mind.

An actor friend of mine used to tell me, “It is tough to answer when people ask you – what are the movies you are working on? Often you are only sitting around waiting for work. No one is impressed by that status. It is convenient to say ‘I am doing a couple of movies’. Actors tend to say that. And when people ask ‘which movies’, you say ‘I can’t reveal details, but one is for Eros and another one for AVM’ (Pick the banners that you like). You have to fake it until you make it, bro! And treat yourself like a premium. When you go for events, leave soon saying you have a shoot the next day. Rush in a hurry and leave. Watch, it is called ‘shoot’ not ‘shooting’. ‘Shooting’ is old style”.

As assistant director told me once “You are whom you think you are, bro! I am already a super successful director in my mind”. I told the assistant director “Bro, I can act, let me know when you need me”. He said “come, see me in my office”. I asked “where is your office?”. Then there was a minute of silence. Then he said “Bro, don’t ask tough questions. I don’t know whose office I will be at tomorrow. I will have an office someday. Don’t disturb my state of mind until then”.

A lot has changed in these 10 years. Technology and social media developments have changed things drastically. No one respects you if you say you are waiting for opportunities. Irrespective of what you want to do, there are opportunities. In case they’re not there, then it is an opportunity for you to create that opportunity. I am not talking about making big money yet. Just opportunities to start practicing your passion, in some way or the other. When you get good at what you are doing, people start giving you their time and money. If you are really good at something, people will do the marketing for you.  The time is here to do what you enjoy doing and you should be able to figure out the money part over time.

When you are starting, the world hits you with this question “Who do you want to be?”. It is great to take inspirations from others, however very soon it either limits you or puts undue pressure on you. How can you follow YOUR heart/passion, but become someone else? It is important to be clear on “What do you want to do”. “Who you want to be?” is a distraction.

“Where do you want to be five years from now?” is asked often. There is generally more focus around the long term rosy picture, compared to daily/weekly goals. “What do you do with your five hours everyday?” is a more useful question. Once you have chosen what you want to do, working hard should be as energizing as working out. You should start to feel good after every day you have put in some good work. Along with this daily/weekly rigor, if you have the right set of people to collaborate and give you feedback on your work, the long term goals should fall in place easily.

BTW friends, thanks for reading through so far. I have a ‘shoot’ tomorrow and hence have to wrap this up quickly. We will catch up soon!

About EVAM

Founded in 2003 by Sunil Vishnu K. and Karthik Kumar, ‘evam’ today is a profitable young thriving arts organization making people believe in the power of the Arts.
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