Book review – Acting Smart

Book review - Acting Smart

Tisca Chopra has been a known name in film and television circuits. In fact it won't be erroneous to state that she is one of the few ladies in the industry whose name commands certain respect and dignity. Never mind a Bollywood kick-start with a lesser known film called Platform a couple of decades ago with none other than Ajay Devgn, today Tisca is well known as playing mom in Aamir Khan's Taare Zameen Par and Anil Kapoor's wife in '24', amongst many other roles that she has played.

No wonder, when an insider like her decides to pen a book centered on acting, you are curious to check what it is all about. While the book's title 'Acting Smart' suggests that this 200 page book is about lessons on acting, it in facts turns out to be an all the more interesting read. It doesn't focus on elements like how one should rehearse on stage or get the act right in front of the camera. Instead, it looks at everything that one is required to put together before hitting the stage and the whole conduct once off it.

In short, 'Acting Smart' has its heart set on how an individual has to bring in personal as well as professional class in his real life act before gearing up for the one that is required for reel.

Now this by itself is a good takeaway of 'Acting Smart' because Tisca makes the book a good read even for those who have nothing to do with the world of acting but just want things to know in order to lead a much improved professionally and personal life. Now one may not know whether to keep the theme universal was a conscious or a sub-conscious call taken by the author. However rest assured, what one reads in the book does throw a pleasant surprise.

Tisca does well in dedicating a chapter each to some of the basics that one has to keep in place as an actor. This means right from getting the right portfolio done to keeping a show-reel ready to an impressive audition to being adequately trained, Tisca shares good tips on overall grooming. While particularly for those in the world of glamour, there is valuable information being shared around hair, wardrobe and overall dressing up, even for those who may be having other interests in the business or corporate world, it makes for a good read to know more on the need of right image, publicity and contracts.

While all this always risked turning into a boring read-through affair with a one sided conversation to match, Tisca makes sure that there are ample anecdotes and real life experiences being interspersed at regular intervals. Of course at number of places she takes name of the actors, casting agents, producers and other important people from the industry, there are times when she plays a blind and leaves it to a reader to figure out the person in question.

No wonder, it is fun to guess who is being spoken about, especially so when in a chapter related to casting couch, Tisca shares a funny tale on how a senior filmmaker tried getting a tad too close for her by calling her into a hotel room for 'script discussion'. A smart woman that Tisca is, she managed to not just get out of that uncomfortable situation but also made sure that there was no such 'indecent proposal' made to her again. In another chapter, she narrates the tale of a struggler who arrives at Anurag Kashyap's office for work because he felt that 'just like Anurag', he too was mentally disturbed and psycho!

It is smile through moments like these that make one keenly go through every chapter as there is something interesting to know about at regular intervals. Oh yes, at times the anecdotes just vanish and a chapter may become a tad too word heavy. With no examples to share, Tisca resorts to some continued 'gyaan' which becomes tiring at times. Of course what is being shared is meaningful but the whole point of Tisca's book was to avoid being a routine self-help saga. Thankfully, barring a few places, that isn't really the case as Tisca brings back excitement into her chapters sooner or later.

Eventually, the key takeaway of the book is that there isn't really a 'luck by chance' moment waiting for an actor out there. To be on screen, a lot goes behind the scenes and it is entirely on an individual on how he or she conducts herself with the right grooming and practice before eventually managing to hit the right spot.

This one is for not just the ones who want to make it to Bollywood but goes oven beyond!
Price: Rs. 350/=
Rating: ***1/2

Article written by staff at Bollywood Hungama. Read more

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