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An Actor’s Journal Ep 1: First Things First

An account of how an up and coming actor went from being a ‘struggler’ to landing his first film

Paresh Pahuja Paresh Pahuja

May 18, 2017 | 12:05 PM

An Actor’s Journal Ep 1: First Things First

EXT. MUMBAI, 2014 - DAY

Aerial shot of Mumbai. ’Ae dil hai mushkil hai jeena yahan’ in Mohd. Rafi’s voice can be heard on an old radio. Quick cuts of city’s hustle and bustle. Shot of Andheri railway station sign board.

INT. STUDIO, ARAM NAGAR -Day 1

Shot of a young guy writing his name and other details on a slate. We’re inside an audition room. We see at least 35 people in the age group of 21-30 years. Most guys are wearing typical Lokhandwala style tight v-neck T-shirts. The girls are in shorts, a ganji with checked shirts over it, and kilos of make up. The guy with the slate proceeds to his introduction.

ACTOR

Hi, my name is Paresh Pahuja. I’m 23 years old. My height is 5 feet 11 inches. And these are my profiles.

CASTING ASSISTANT

Cool, bhai. We’ll call you if there’s anything.

The casting assistant is a struggling actor himself. But today he is a casting assistant, so he’s Tom Cruise. He’s busy with his phone. Chances are he’s playing candy crush but he pretends to be chatting with Zoya Akhtar. He doesn’t even look up to talk to the actor.

ACTOR

But what about this one? I think I can...

CASTING ASSISTANT

No re. You’re not fit.

ACTOR

Oh okay. But why? I mean, so that... you know, I can improve.

CASTING ASSISTANT

Bro, this is a bike ad. We need tall, fair, upmarket, well built, good-looking guys. Lead material types. NEXT!

LOKHANDWALA DUDE

Hallo fraands... Aaii am...

OPENING CREDITS. THEME SONG KICKS IN.

********

Now before we go further, let me tell you this is my story. Here I’m the protagonist. So no one can tell me I’m not fit for my own story. My name is Paresh Pahuja. This is my journal. I’m going to share my most personal moments with you. Ready amigo?

I’ve always imagined my life as a film with a super-heroic background score by Hans Zimmer. Even when I’m standing in the Aadhar card queue. And I love talking about myself in third person. I’m an actor who lives in Andheri West. I’m past the stage of being a struggling actor, but I’m not a star either. (soon) I’m not a star kid, I haven’t slept with any casting director, and I don’t have Hrithik Roshan-type six packs either. (I have 2.5)

But in the last one and a half years, I’ve shot about 20 ads. So you sort of know me, but you really don’t because you skip ads on YouTube and change channels during commercial breaks on TV.

By the way, I just signed my first Bollywood feature film. Silence. (Background music swells) Sounds like a cakewalk, right? I wish! An actor’s journey is humiliating. It kills your ego and injures your self esteem. It creates doubts that don’t exist and invents insecurities. It shakes your confidence and screws your belief system. Every single day.

But it’s worth it.

All of this vanishes the moment you land your first project. Facing the camera for the first time is like going on a date with the most beautiful woman on earth. You’re nervous but you have to give your best performance. By the way, my parents still don’t know I’ve quit my job. Middle-class parents get a heart attack at the thought of not having a fixed monthly salary. They still think I go to office on weekdays and give auditions on weekends. I’ll tell them before they read this article.

FLASHBACK MONTAGE

We see our protagonist boarding the sleeper class of Gujarat Mail from Ahmedabad. He doesn’t look too happy.

SUPER: July 2012

CUT TO:

Paresh is having a lunch thali and begging for extra dal at Anna’s canteen after a Brand Management lecture.

SUPER: Xavier Institute of Communications, 2012

Close up of his hand receiving an offer letter from Contract Advertising. His first offer letter. He has half a teardrop in his left eye. 6 months later. We see him with a bunch of colleagues at a Bandra restaurant (read bar). It’s his first farewell. Again, half a teardrop.

SUPER: 2014

CUT TO:

Extreme close up shot of our man. He’s ecstatic. We see him animatedly telling a friend about his first production job at Nomad Films. 10 months. He quits and goes to Himachal.

Super: 2015

SONG ENDS.

An actor’s journey is humiliating. It kills your ego and injures your self esteem. It creates doubts that don’t exist and invents insecurities. It shakes your confidence and screws your belief system. Every single day. But it's worth it

INT. PARESH PAHUJA’S APARTMENT

February, 2017.

Small 1RK set up. ‘Up & Up’ by Coldplay is playing on a small bluetooth speaker. The phone rings. He ignores the phone call thinking it’s another bill pay reminder. After a few beats, he comes out, checks the phone. He goes to the kitchen, boils half a glass of water, does salt water gargles, clears his throat and dials.

PARESH PAHUJA

Hey, sorry I missed your call. How have you been?

CASTING DIRECTOR

Good good. A bit tired though. Have been attending a lot of weddings.

PARESH PAHUJA

Whose weddings?

CASTING DIRECTOR

Lots of people yaar. Family, friends.

PARESH PAHUJA

Oh! Like samooh-lagan.

They giggle.

CASTING DIRECTOR

Haha. Yeah, kind of samooh-lagan. Achha, they want you for this film.

Beat. Deep breath.

PARESH PAHUJA

Achha, they want me for the film?

CASTING DIRECTOR

Yes. Now go, read your part and get back to me with an answer ASAP.

PARESH PAHUJA

Cool, I’ll do that. Thank you so much.

CASTING DIRECTOR

Not yet. Once you sign it. Bye.

FADE TO BLACK.

QUICK FUTURE FLASHBACK SHOTS

We see Paresh entering through a massive gate of a production studio. He’s in a huge conference room with a bound script placed on a table. Tight close shot of the first page of the script. The film is titled.

To be continued. . .