Work in Hindi is called as Karma. No matter what size of your Karma is, you should keep doing it. Every year, scores of people come to Mumbai to become a part of Bollywood. Approximately, 1000 movies are made every year. Do dreams come true? That slightest moment of facing the camera and feeling like a superstar, who doesn’t want it? Even smallest of the roles given in the entertainment industry call for hard work and dedication. I am sharing a small conversation with Sanjeev Sharma who works as an actor in movies, television serials and advertisements (both print and TV).
Coming from a city in UP and putting efforts to make it big in the showbiz, Sharma has been relentlessly working. My interview talks about aspirations, appreciation of work, handling the dynamics and managing life with an insecure profession.
Before we start talking about your acting career, tell me something about yourself, your roots and early life.
I come from a middle class family in Ghaziabad, UP. I was a school teacher and specialized in physical education. Like any typical family, my parents expected me to pursue education and go for a job. I followed the track like any young man would do. I got my degrees, did job, got married and lived happily with my family. Never did it cross my mind that I would become an actor one day. Yes, I had this bug called acting and always wanted to give it a shot. But making it happen called for guts.
Talking of acting, how did it all start? Did just start raw out of hobby?
I did some local short films out of hobby. These weren’t the gateways to the entertainment industry but they definitely opened my eyes. I realized that I had a fierce streak of acting in me and that if I polish, I would become big. Thereafter, I started concentrating on this side of my life. I started speaking to concerned people and consulted my friends putting up in Mumbai. Before anything, I worked on myself, my skills and my body in order to showcase a better me to the world.
You realized acting was beckoning you, tell us the story that followed.
It was year 2010, when I first went to Mumbai. I had taken leaves from my job. The city was new to me, it felt like some fancy place the way you see in films. I feel lucky, I had friends who helped me. They assisted me in making contacts and doing preparations. Meanwhile, I continued to do work on myself. It isn’t as easy as it sounds. One needs lot of patience and determination to keep going ahead even when everything looks blank.
What was your first break?
I got a small role in ‘Do Hanson ka Jora’ by Rajshri Productions. It paved a way for me to some extent. After that, I got an opportunity in Bollywood movie called ‘Haunted’ by Vikram Bhatt. This small but integral chance got me closer to Bhatt. I learnt so much within this small stint regarding acting, timing, dialogue delivery and body language. Post this movie, I got much more opportunities in Delhi for various advertisements. I can say, after these appearances, I felt I had a chance in the entertainment industry.
Your achievements seem like a ladder you are climbing on. I am feeling more inquisitive. Tell me more.
Yes, it is a never ending ladder. Till 2014, I kept shuttling between Mumbai and Ghaziabad. It was a tough task as I had to manage my school job and then travel to Mumbai for work. During this period, I worked in Jhansi ki Rani, Police File, Savdhaan India, Crime Patrol, Lucky Kabootar and much more. After working in a few projects, I received appreciation and internal satisfaction as well. But life isn’t easy. I lost my job in this marathon. This time, I had to take a call and finally, in 2014, I came to Mumbai for complete settlement. I have been consistently working since then – movies, television, and print ads.
Losing a job calls for courage. Share some stories from your struggle diaries.
I started my acting career as a married man with kids. So, when you lose job, it takes an extra toll on you. It wasn’t easy at that time but I had to tell myself I will do it. At first, I went from door to door at production companies for auditions. I have no count; how many auditions have I given till now. I worked hard on everything possible. There were times, I had no work and I had to manage in pennies. In this industry, there is no security. It is like digging a well for a living and you have to keep digging it if you want to survive.
Share an unforgettable incident.
I am currently working for a film, Chapekar Brothers. Govind Namdev is playing one of the lead roles in the film and I badly wanted to have a scene with him. The script had no place for me and him in the same frame. But, destiny had planned something. There was a character to be played by a fellow artist (with Namdev) who due to some circumstance couldn’t turn up. The role was given to me. In a matter of one hour, I had to rehearse two pages of dialogues. I touched Govindji’s feet and accumulated guts to say all that I had learnt. I cannot elaborate the goosebumps I felt while delivering the dialogues. But what a moment it was.
You are that ‘Sharma ji ka beta’ who is working hard strenuously. In this struggle, what was your family’s role? Do they support you?
(Laughs) They supported fully. Rather, my mother often says she should have had sent me to the entertainment industry way too early (giggles). At present, my family is always speaking high about me. In fact, my neighbors feel surprised to see me working in TV and films.
What are your upcoming projects?
I have completed shooting for Chapekar Brothers and a Bhojpuri film as a villain. There are a few in the pipeline.
So many young people leave their jobs, and families to make it big in the city. What suggestions would you give to them?
Never quit a well-paying job until you are sure that you have plentiful projects on your plate. Understand, you have a family behind, you have taxes and bills to pay. Most importantly, you have to financially support yourself. This is where education helps. When your plans don’t work out, your degree shall get you a job. Respect your degree. Further, always have a backup plan so that in any form your family doesn’t suffer in your absence. Understand, city life costs way too much. Do not feel too fancy about the entertainment industry, and appreciate the roles you receive. No one can become Shahrukh overnight. It is a harsh world with brutal realities.
While you plan to work, you must learn to have connections and know the probabilities of your plans. Do not cease to work hard, have a strong strategy and have a stronger understanding of the show biz. It is a common culture where people charge money for giving breaks but someone has rightly said ‘one who is taking money is not faithful’. Use your wisdom before taking any step.