Tanuj Virwani column: If you don’t have fire in the belly...

I am hugely passionate about acting and cricket. Since I was overweight and stammered while speaking initially, I lacked the confidence to be an actor though I was always inclined towards the creative arts right from my late teens. I thought I would be a writer or a director – a behind-the-camera person. I realised I wanted to be an actor rather late in the day. So, at first, I became an assistant director.

When I saw these wonderful actors perform and saw them switch on and switch off their performance at the sound of ‘start’ and ‘cut’, I found the experience surreal. I understood that as an actor you can live so many different lives and visit so many different personalities which you would never be able to in your real life. And that’s when the acting bug really bit me.

I decided to take life a bit more seriously thereafter. But I didn’t realise then just how tough it was to make a career in acting. I thought there will be glamour, fun, dancing, romance, fighting ... however, nothing is farther away from the truth. There is, in fact, a lot of struggle, competition and insecurity. So many games are played in the industry.

Tanuj Virwani column: If you don’t have fire in the belly...

But I feel that passion is important -- whether it’s in our personal life or in our professional life. Passion is the essence of life. If you don’t have the zeal, the drive, the fire in the belly, you will end up existing as opposed to living life to the fullest. Unfortunately, a lot of people just exist. I wouldn’t give up being an actor for anything in the world. Acting is a passion for me. I don’t see myself doing a 9 to 5 job ever. Acting allows me to express my sadness, my happiness, my hopes, my love … everything.

At the same time, if you want to sustain your acting career, you need to keep your head above the water and your sanity intact. If you want to come in and create a splash in one or two projects and be known only for that, it’s okay. But in order to be known for a body of work that extends over a long period of time, you definitely need to cut off from the film industry once in a while and find your safe haven with a set of friends who have nothing to do with the business you are in.

One needs a haven to escape to. My haven is cricket. One cannot explain why one is drawn to a particular sport. I was probably 11 or 12 when I started playing cricket. I am not a trained cricketer but I would like to believe I play reasonably well. More importantly, it gives me an adrenaline rush. If I have had a good game of cricket, I feel charged up, If I have had a bad game, I just shrug it off. Cricket is like life you have good days and bad days. You have to take it with a pinch of salt and move on.

I am a competitive person and as a team sport, cricket is very competitive. Now it is a part of my system, an integral part of my life whether I am playing to unwind and relax or playing it as part of my role as the batsman Vayu in the web series ‘Inside Edge'.

Whether I am sitting in a coffee shop or walking on the road, both in India and abroad, I am always observing people. As an actor, it is important to sit and observe people. And I see quite a few people walking with their head bent low. Their chips are down and they seem to lack passion. They don’t really know where they are going and I find it especially sad to see youngsters in this state because youth is known for its exuberance; a quality we cherish as we grow older.

That is why, whether I am going to work for a film, a web series or a short film, I go to the shoot with cent per cent passion. Keeping aside the trappings of fame, I love what I do and therefore I enjoy my time. The fact that I am getting to live my dream is an amazing feeling. So I want to tell all the people out there who are reading this to find their passion because that will help them make their life the best version of what it can be.

-Co-ordinated by Dinesh Raheja

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