9 Bollywood actresses on slaying their inner demons
When I was in college, I was terrified of public speaking. I used to win best actress awards at inter-collegiate drama competitions. But even if I had to deliver a small ‘thank you’ speech, my legs would turn to jelly; I would break into a sweat and even throw up. But then I started writing down my speech and practiced it in front of the mirror, just like I rehearsed my lines. I overcame my terror (wouldn’t call it evil) and today, I am comfortable in front of a mike. I believe practice and experience help, provided you are determined to overcome your limitation.
We, as actors, tend to judge characters. In Homeland, while essaying the part of an anti-national, a woman in a place of high authority who is sympathetic towards terrorism, I had to overcome the evil of judging the character/ person. Life isn’t about black and white. Whatever evil is in a person, it comes from somewhere. One needs to understand a person’s past before judging the outcome.
When you are an actor, you face rejection on a daily basis. It is my inner demons — impatience, jealousy, greed and rage — that I deal with on a daily basis. I firmly believe that evil never accepts defeat, but goodness always triumphs. That is what keeps me going. Without a relevant last name or a pageant to your credit, it is hard being an industry outsider. But to abide by what you want to do is often harder. When I decided to wait for Masaan to find funders, a lot of people discouraged me. They questioned my belief in the film and the genre of cinema. But it proved to be a special film for me and for the country as well.
I battled temper issues for a long time. But, I realised that I have to work on it. Now, I much calmer. In fact, when I tell people that I was hot-headed earlier, they find it tough to believe me. And that feels nice.
The most important thing for any person is a positive state of mind. Earlier, I used to take criticism personally and would often cry over it or vent my feelings in front of loved ones. But I have realised the futility of it now. I simply try and focus on the feedback given very objectively without feeling hurt or upset. When I feel low or a negative thought comes to mind, I suspend all my work and do something that makes me truly happy. At times, simply listening to my favourite song makes my day better.
What I have tried to overcome is my need to suppress my anger. Feeling angry is natural but what’s healthy is the ability to express it. I feel lighter, brighter and better since I began honouring my anger. After all, even goddesses Durga and Kali do that!
After a bitter fallout with my father, I was faced with many rejections and failures during my struggling days. I became accustomed to constant humiliation and embarrassment and believed that it was my destiny. I lost my self esteem and self respect, befriended a sadistic person who enjoyed hurting me and seemed comfortable with that treatment. One day, that person subjected me to extreme physical violence and I exploded like a volcano; I refused to take any more humiliation or insult. I revealed my true self not only to that person, but to myself as well. Through that experience, I realised it wasn’t the other person who was evil, it was my own darkness which resulted in that experience. I truly believe that experience made me aware of my own demons, helping me pull the beasts out and kick their b*tt.
There is obviously a struggle to stay positive and free of ridiculous insecurities that deter your growth in a competitive industry where you are constantly judged. So staying focussed, minding my own business and knowing what I want and going after it fearlessly is something that I have always tried to strive for. Turning producer with NH10 at 25 was the starting point. And I am grateful that I didn’t allow doubt or negativity get the better of me.
I have been able to overcome my anger by developing a sense of humour.