Last month I made my Bollywood debut in Munna Michael. What I never imagined was that a movie release could teach me so much about myself while also offering a crash course on how to deal with Bollywood and the world around us. My opinions, thoughts, and experiences may make no difference to anyone. But I am sure I’m not the only young person in pursuit of a dream trying to figure life out.. so I wanted to share my journey, as a perspective for others like me, just young people trying to figure stuff out….
Imagine a young girl from Bangalore with an impossible dream. A Thursday night when her dream comes true and a Friday night 24 hours later when the dream seemed like it was in trouble.
Imagine spending Saturday and Sunday reading critics criticize the film you’ve spent your entire life dreaming of. Fearing that your journey is over before it’s even begun.
But this is not a sad story.
It is a story of hope and possibility. Of waking on a Monday realizing that you may not be on the rocket ship to superstardom you wished for but that the dream is still alive and real, the journey has just begun and one day you will get there.
My release weekend served as a reminder that we live in a society and a time of instant judgment, quick criticism, and vocal negativity. The only way to survive, to fulfill your dreams, to find your happiness is to not let the negativity of the world bring you down. To rise and to draw strength from the miracle that a regular middle-class girl who didn’t know a single person in Bollywood is here in the first place.
I come from a family that didn’t know a single person in the world of movies and entertainment. Like so many millions of Indian families, we would look at the impossibly beautiful people on screen, the glitter of Stardust shining brightly on them, with awe. We would joke about wanting to be in the movies but it was just that… a moment for the family to share a laugh. It was never a serious thought because forget about a destination, I had no clue how to even get to step 1.
And yet here I am. With close to half a million people suddenly following me on Instagram, people walking up to me in airports and restaurants, children calling out my name and a second film being announced soon. Realising that while my debut may not be the blockbuster I hoped for, it’s still been seen and loved by millions of people and the love we have gotten for the film surpasses the numbers. Which makes the numbers seem trivial. Knowing that I survived my fears. Knowing I am here to stay.
The only reason I am here is that I have refused to accept and listen when people said my dream is impossible.
The weekend of my release was no different from every other step of my journey. Whether when I first decided to model, to move to Mumbai, to pursue films, or when my film released, people have been quick to explain why I was being naive or stupid, why I should set my sights lower, why I should not dream such impossible dreams. But I have always chosen to rise, to work hard, to not be defeated, to audition again, and again, and again…to not give in to other people’s fears until I finally got the movie I had always dreamt of.
I know I wasn’t perfect in my debut. But I haven’t spent my entire life training to be an actor. On my first day, I was shooting for my entry song, not knowing what a mark meant or camera facing or taking the light. All I had was my passion for acting and dance. But I survived. I learnt. I got better. And I will get better still.
I choose not to be upset by those critics who weren’t impressed because my journey is not their concern and they are fair in demanding more of me. I can only do what is in my control. To stay positive. To be better every day.
I choose not to be upset with talk of nepotism or star kids. I can’t change that. Eventually, the work needs to speak for itself and the audience makes its own decisions. All I know is that I need to be the best version of myself, not worry about anyone else.
We live in a world where we are constantly told not to be brave. To take the easy option. To believe that you were not meant to be special.
But the truth is everyone is special. It’s just that very few of us have the opportunity to see that, to believe that and to live our lives being true to that belief.
I know it’s hard. There have been days when I have wanted to give up. Weekends I spent in bed crying and in pain. Doubts. Fears. Insecurities.
But don’t give up. Whether you’re an actor like me or a musician or an athlete or an artist or just a person who wants to make the world a better place, fight for your dreams. Don’t let society dull your spirit and kill your soul. Because it is our soul and spirit that keeps us alive and we are never more alive than when we are living our dreams.