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Interview Hindi

LIFFT India: You have to create the universe within a scene, says Vipin Sharma on acting

In a masterclass on acting, Vipin Sharma speaks of learning new techniques, his roles, and struggling actors in Hindi cinema.

Sukhpreet Kahlon

He has appeared in films such as Taare Zameen Par (2007), Paan Singh Tomar (2012), Gangs of Wasseypur (2012), Raanjhanaa (2013), Kick (2014), Raman Raghav 2.0 (2016) to name a few and his acting has been appreciated by one and all. Actor Vipin Sharma was in conversation with founder and director of LIFFT India Riju Bajaj for an engaging masterclass on acting.

Sharma began by talking about his unusual journey as an actor. Recalling a play in which he had acted with Bajaj, who was a young boy at the time, Sharma said, “Acting is not just about saying your lines. It is bringing the universe with you. You have to create the universe within the scene”.

Emphasizing this he said that while most actors feel that acting is what takes place after the director says “action” and before he/she calls for a “cut”, acting is actually what takes place before and after these words and what takes place in between is just a moment in an actor’s life.

Recalling his journey, the actor reminisced that despite attending the National School of Drama in Delhi, he didn’t feel confident as an actor, primarily because he was conscious of his lack of English speaking skills. So he went to Canada and quit acting. He became an editor instead and changed professions. 

After the release of Maqbool (2003), his friend Irrfan Khan told him that Indian cinema was changing and there were more roles for actors like them. Sharma told Khan that he wanted to act again, "I felt that I could pick up where I left off since I was a trained actor". But at the prodding of a friend, he decided to enrol himself for an acting workshop in Canada which followed the Meisner technique developed by Sanford Meisner.

Although initially, Sharma was sceptical of the methods followed, he gradually became immersed in the process and did the class for 30 weeks, “At the end of the class, I felt I didn’t want to do anything else except act”.

He came to India and asked Amole Gupte to audition him for Taare Zameen Par. Aamir Khan saw his audition tape by mistake and Sharma was back in the film industry with the role that he is perhaps most recognised for.

Still from Taare Zameen Par

Responding to a question asked by renowned actor Kanwaljit Singh who was in the audience, Sharma elaborated on the acting method he had learnt in Canada. For Meisner, spontaneity is more important, which is brought to the fore through repetition. Listening from within and making a connection are also cornerstones of this acting method.

Bajaj pointed out that Sharma has come to be known as the “universal dad”, for he has played the role of a father in many films. To this Sharma responded saying that he is tired of playing the dad, “I don’t want nameless father roles. I am okay with playing good father roles”. He elaborated by saying that even though he wasn't keen on doing these roles, he can't really refuse them either. 

When asked for advice for young struggling actors, Sharma said, “I really admire Irrfan and Nawazuddin, who struggled for so many years to create a space for themselves. Perseverance is key for young actors. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are not good enough. That, along with the desire to act is critical. Actors must also learn to face rejection as it is a part of being an actor.” 

Sharma also revealed that aside from acting, he is writing scripts and has made a film, Akki Te Vikki Te Tikki, which is a story of three non-actors who think that they are actors. He has also completed writing another script, and his web series titled, What the Folks (WTF!) on Facebook and Youtube is immensely popular and has got a great response.

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