One Month in Mumbai – from learning how to act to living in the most expensive city
Going to the city I hated the most!
But it was a city of dreams in real essence!!
My immediate plan after coming from the US to India was to join Anupam Kher’s Acting classes in Mumbai. This is one thing that I wanted to try from quite some time and now since I didn’t have any commitments, it was the right time for me to try it out.
I had been to Mumbai twice before to meet my friends, and I hated it so much that I decided to never come back to the city. It was sad to see everyone struggle for a one bedroom apartment in a clumsy locality.
But my visit to Mumbai in July’18 was going to change that perspective to some extent. I had booked a hostel, The Social Space near my classes so that it was convenient to walk to the class and I could save some time and money on the commute. I didn’t have many hopes from the hostel or the locality since Mumbai is an expensive city. But I was really excited about my classes and the people I was going to meet.
Just like Kota (a city in Rajasthan) streets that are full of IIT coaching Institutes, Mumbai West Andheri, where my hostel was located was full of Acting Institutes. I, on the other hand, believed there are just a handful of acting schools in the city
How did I spend my time in Mumbai?
I started my life in Mumbai by recording every expense I made. Since I was on a budget and didn’t want to spend so much on fancy food and entertainment but focus on what I was there for. It didn’t continue after the first week though
I had my classes in the evening, so to keep myself busy, during the mornings, I spent time working on my blog and also figuring out a plan for the coming month. I even posted my first camera facing YouTube video during that time.
Starbucks was my day-time home and internet provider for first two weeks .
Through this blog post, I also want to thank Starbucks for providing working-space to so many people everywhere. I don’t think you get thanked enough, so kudos to you .
The Must have Mumbai Local Experience
I had applied to work with an NGO while I was in Mumbai. On a random day, 10 days before I had to leave, I got an email from the NGO inviting to attend an orientation meeting. I knew I might not be able to work with the NGO because of the limited time I was in Mumbai, but still, I was super-eager to do something useful for the society and hence I decided to go to a faraway place in Mumbai. I was living on a budget and didn't want to spend a 1000Rs on my commute, so I decided to take the Mumbai Local train.
Oh, it was such a funny experience, I actually didn't have to put in a lot of effort to climb up and get down the train because there were soooo many people to help you do that. Imagine yourself as a part of a group that moves together and stops together, something like this ↴
My Experience in The Social Space Hostel
Like any other new place, I was skeptical about the hostel and the people I was going to meet. After taking my own time, I started making friends with other hostelers. TSS is a very cool place, and by the time I left, it was more of a small family than a group of strangers. Every night in the TSS was like a night in college hostel where we spent time discussing how our day was, playing games and general gossiping.
There were people from different parts of the world, including Egypt, Bahrain, Ghana, Russia, and of course India, and a few others. Most of these people were working with NGOs, so they were there for a longer duration. The rest of us included solo travelers, fashion designer, makeup artist, actors, directors, traders, experienced chefs, musicians, and so on. Oh, it was a group of people from all over the place and it was so amazing to talk to each one of them and learn something new every day.
My Experience with Actor Prepares
The very first day of the class was like starting a school and thinking you might be the worst. It was amazing to see students with ages varying from 14yrs to 65yrs and with varied experiences, all gathered in one room to learn sincerely. The group had a mix of people who were already into acting schools, others who were experienced professionals, then a few fresh out of college and of course 2 kids who were still in school. Many of us were in Mumbai just for the classes for a month, some with the support of their families and some on their own giving some excuse back home.
The classes started with awkward “Hi's" and "Hello's" but by the end, most of us had formed close bonds.
I had signed up for both dance and acting classes as part of the part-time course. In dance class, we learned choreography on 4 Bollywood songs and the group worked together and helped others who needed extra help and guidance.
The acting class will be a little more detailed. The first week included group activities so that everyone gets to know each other and gets comfortable on the stage. It was more of a ramping up week for the activities in the coming weeks. The first exercise was creating a still picture with static body action and facial expressions. It progressed to acting without words and conveying the meaning through gestures (also called, Mime ). This was followed by coming up with a situation and acting it out in a group. The classes progressed through, imagination development, practicing Navarasa, and speaking and breathing exercises. These were accompanied by regular improvised performances where we used the techniques learned in the previous classes. The final week was more focused on our monologues for the final performance.
The final performance
On the last day of the class, we had to showcase, whatever we had learned in the last 26 days. We were allowed to invite our friends and families for the performance. Rest of the audience was our faculty, the acting and dance teachers.
The dance performance went by too quickly and before we even realized it was over . It was followed by monologue acts in the order that was pre-decided. I was the 26th person to go on stage. I was a little nervous but funny enough "you don't have many options once you are there on stage"
I performed my act and while I was doing that, I tried to include my teachers' feedback and did a little better than the practice sessions I guess.
You can check my video here.
The realization of the one month of hard work and scoldings and praises has come to an end was such a bad feeling. Most of us went for an after-party after the ceremony and the night ended with hugs and kisses and promises of meeting again .
What I Learned as a Person in The Class
These classes were a real help not only as an actor but as a person as well. My fear of stage had reduced to a great extent. I was able to explore the emotions in me that I didn't think I even had. And I am really really thankful to our teacher Mr. Alok Arora for all the effort he had put in and the genuine feedback he constantly gave. And thumbs up to our dance teachers, Mr. Shivam Sahal and Ms. Urmila for teaching in the most basic way possible so that everyone could easily pick up. And of course to all the people in the class for supporting and giving regular feedback to each other for a continuous improvement as a group.
My first introduction audition
My friend from class had told me about an audition that was going to happen that day for Fulcrum Films. Nervous, excited and clueless about what it is like, I went to the shared address. It was then that I realized the places where auditions are done are not generally fancy looking offices. The place I was going to was hidden behind a few shops and though I felt a little skeptical, I got all calmed down when I saw a hugeeee queue of people (all guys) waiting for their audition. As I climbed up the stairs I was told, girls could enter the room and have a seat. I felt glad but a little sad for all those guys who must have been there already before me. I sat on a couch and watched all the introductions go on waiting for them to call me for my turn. It was after some time that I realized, once in the room, you have to get up and go yourself whenever you feel ready. While I was preparing for my intro, it started raining heavily outside and most of the guys who were waiting outside were told to come the next day — “yes this is the story of how most auditions and introductions go”. I was lucky enough to be in that room and finally complete my introduction and leave.
The Star Encounter Experience
The only star-encounter experience I had was of Gul Panag. It was when I was working in Starbucks that she entered with her family and sat on the table just next to me. Trying really hard to be patient, I did not directly look at her and by the time I calmed down, she moved to a table with space for more people. But before leaving I smiled and waved at her and left without imposing myself too much on her. - Just a happy moment
And finally, I never thought I will fall in love with Mumbai, but I was already missing it when I was about to leave it