The Reality of Acting…Actor’s Reality

An article I read in the papers got me thinking about how certain characters in movies endear themselves to us…only because we find them so realistic. I also walked down memory lane on a Sunday morning, sipping my tea, sitting in myPiku-Amitabh-Bachchan-Images balcony…just reminiscing about actors whom I have admired. We so often undervalue the roles that are played by actors in our movie watching. The actor – character divide goes in and out of focus in most movies. However, there is a certain kind of cinema, where this divide does not exist and the character overtakes the actor, or, rather, the actor submerges himself in the role, disappearing completely until you forget about the real life person.

A recent character that had such an impact on me was Bhaskor Banerjee, played by Amitabh Bachchan in the film Piku. Amitabh is one actor who has been immortalised in our minds. Right from playing the character of Vijay in Deewar, to the leather jacketed hero on a bike, in Muqaddar Ka Sikander and now, as Bhaskor Banerjee in Piku, there is something about Amitabh where the actor – character divide becomes a blur. There is one scene in the movie, where Piku is talking to the maid who has a complaint against Bhaskor. He is constantly hovering over her as she works and suspects her of being a thief too. The maid is naturally upset. Bhaskor’s expression when Piku adopts a conciliatory approach to dealing with the maid is priceless. His behaviour is also something most of us see with older people in our homes.

The other scene that impacted me a lot was Bhaskor dying in his sleep. It was very different from seeing Amitabh dying in his movies of 1970s or 80s. Bhaskor’s death felt more real, closer home. It hits me with the reality that in real life too Amitabh Bachchan is 73 years old. Amitabh as Bhaskor in Piku was very different from Amitabh playing the role of an old man in his earlier movies. Bhaskor strikes a chord…reminds us of our own parents, grand parents…

Watching Piku, drove home two points for me. I became more aware of mortality & how some of the reel life characters leave an indelible print on our minds. Some of the older Hollywood movies I watched  have also had the same impact. Omar Sharif’s role as Feodor Sverdlov, a handsome Russian diplomat 13.1-Tamarindin Tamarind Seed, was one such character. Omar Sharif slipped into the role so well that it was difficult to think of him as Omar for a while after that. He falls in love with Julie Andrews, who works for the British government and it is a romance set during the height of the Cold War. The storyline and the roles were extrapolated in real life for me because I was in Vietnam at that time when my Dad was the military attache there. I was witness to a couple of budding romances around me.

I still cannot figure out where Don Vito Corleone began and where Marlon Brando disappeared in Godfather. The larger than life character of Don Vito took over Marlon Brando’s persona completely. The scene where Vito talks to other Mafia chiefs and transitions from peace talk to subtle warning if any harm were to befall Michael, Brando is brilliant. He goes from regretful, sad, to calm and forgiving to powerful and firm but it so subtle, it hard to distinguish between Don Vito & Marlon Brando.  “But I’m a superstitious man…and if some unlucky accident should befall him, if he gets shot in the head by a police officer, or if he should hang himself in his jail cell, or if he is struck by a bolt of lightning (I got goosebumps here), then I’m going to blame some people in this room, and then I do not forgive”

I know a lot of people sideline Brando’s role and prefer Al Pacino’s role as Michael Corleone. Al Pacino, was no doubt fantastic. There is no denying the character – actor overlap there. However, in my mind, it will always be Don Vito Corleone vitowho will send the shivers down my spine and yet, will be an endearing old man tending to his vegetables in his garden. The lines between performance and reality break down with such actors and roles. And I guess age does make a difference…beyond a point there is no faking. Even if it happens momentarily, while watching a scene, where the person is rising from the chair, pauses to balance himself, or, has a faraway look in his eyes while thinking of his life, or, the tone of his voice changes subtly to convey the emotions he is going through, without changing his facial expressions….you continue to wonder,”Was that Amitabh or Bhaskor/Omar or Feodor/Brando or Don Vito?”

My Reality…Your Reality

The power of a person’s reality can have tremendous impact on how he shapes his future. What do we mean by this?

Keep repeating the statement, “I Can’t” at least 50 times and see the impact it has on you. By the end of the day, this would become your reality & you really can’t. On the contrary, keep repeating, “I Can” and “I am”. The positive reinforcement will attract factors that will enable you to achieve. This is also reality…but this is again your reality.

So, what is the difference between the two realities. Here is an example to illustrate this. We all know who invented the aircraft…the Wright Brothers. What do you think happened when they explained their idea of a human being able to fly. As usual, most people laughed while some others adopted the wait & watch style. However, the Wright Brothers did not give up their idea.

The brothers were also smart. They knew they faced risks in terms of flying first, but they were not risky. They chose a large flat piece of land to experiment and experiment they did – for five years, till they were able to fly a few inches above the ground and for less than a minute. Like all smart people they accounted for failures and decided to fail on flat ground rather than any other place. They also continued to practice failing till they could fly. Because they could take risks wisely, they changed the world forever!

Here’s what worked for them –
Reality (humans can’t fly) + Idea (humans can fly) = Possibility (invention of aircraft)

Did they get opposition – sure they did. Now, let’s look at our reality. A lot of us want to do different things in life. Do we get opposition when we express those wants…sure we do! What kind of statements do we hear –
“You can’t do something like this …this is not for you”
“You don’t have the experience so & so has…”
“You really don’t think this kind of money is possible”…and so on.

What are these folks telling us? Where are they coming from? They are coming from their reality. Their reality has conditioned them to make such statements.

Whereas my reality tells me
“I am able to help people understand what I want”
“I am building something valuable in my life through my relationships ”
“I am reaching my goal of financial independence and then freedom”

How different are these groups from each other? Very different…

People in the first group are stuck in their reality. They are unwilling to change their reality & move. As a result the perceptions get built accordingly and perception becomes reality.

People in my reality group understand the need to change reality based on opportunities. Every opportunity is explored and understood to shift paradigms.

The question now is how do we change our reality. By leveraging of course. There is a catch here – do not leverage others before you start leveraging yourself. In other words, leverage your mind. Our mind is the most powerful tool and what we think becomes reality in most cases. As the old adage goes…”what the mind thinks becomes flesh…” For example someone who thinks that investing in the stock market is risky, will look for information to substantiate his/her reality. So all the news they read or hear from others will relate to how people have lost money in the stock market.

The mind has the power to see what it believes as reality, thereby blinding it to other realities. Just as people told the Wright Brothers that humans can’t fly, we will have people tell us that what we want in life is either impossible or may not be possible only for us.

Therefore, what is my reality?
My reality is to leverage my mind in the most positive way to make things happen for people whom I take responsibility. So, I constantly expand my reality to accommodate shifts around me. Changing reality doesn’t necessarlity mean bigger things. It simply means changing a point of view & experiencing a paradigm shift and not getting to a stage of “Who Moved My Cheese”

Now that’s another perception altogether…:) 🙂 🙂