Follow Your Heart - Shruti Das

If you know your craft and are good at it then for sure there’ll be recognition. Sadly, it might take time. but hard work and talent are the only things that matter in the long run.

1. Tell us about your background and journey.

I was born and brought up in West Bengal, Kolkata. Growing up in an atmosphere filled with theatre, music, dance, literature, politics and food has definitely helped me become the person I am today. I did my masters in theatre direction and trained in Indian classical dance Odissi and kathak. 

During my college days, I tried my hand in production, did some event management and voice over for radio; although that's something that I still do and thoroughly enjoy. After completing my studies, I was directing plays in Kolkata. 

I started working on plays by Bertolt Brecht and Nabarun Bhattacharya; that was a time I’ll never forget. I got introduced to the world of commercial mainstream Bollywood musicals with "JAAN-E-JIGAR”, a musical play that I did with Wizcraft international, playing one of the leads of the story. I was settled in the UAE for about 2 years for this play and it did change my life a lot both personally and professionally. 

I then moved to Bombay, where I'm currently based at.  My journey in this city of dreams I would say has been pleasant. Although the competition is high, I have to say I feel welcomed.  It's been only 1.5 years in Bombay and I have been fortunate enough to meet some really talented and kind people. 

I have worked with the likes of Aparna Sen, Sunil Shanbaag and have learned a lot from them. working on tvcs has been fun and recently I started my web series journey with " Happily Ever After " with zoom studios. Hopefully, there’s more to come. To infinity and beyond.

2. Did you ever think or dream of being an actor?

To be honest I always wanted to be an actor. I started dancing when I was 3 or 4 years old and since then I have always loved the spotlight. The acting was a natural progression. It’s only later that I started enjoying the process of becoming another person and experiencing someone else's life. 

I did take a serious turn to direction some time back. I guess someday in the future I will revisit that thought.

3. How can one approach their career and have the confidence and belief to become an actor?

To start with I don't think one becomes an artist. Some people are just born that way, it's like a default. Having said that, I do believe that like any other profession, it takes a lot of hard work, resilience and self-belief. 

It's a very unpredictable line of work and one has to keep at it. so follow your dreams, don't give up and try to learn new skills, experience life to the fullest, read well, training does help, I would say training helps a lot. 

It provides precision and direction to wild energy. training and education teach us dos and don'ts. It somewhat simplifies the process of trial and error. In my opinion, it helps us harness our talent better. 

But most importantly, always always believe in yourself, because if you don't, no one else will.

4. If not this, what would you be doing?

I don't really know what I would have done if I wasn't an actor. I have always wanted this so bad that this seemed like the only option. But come to think of it, I started as a dancer, so probably would have taken that up more seriously or continued with theatre direction. 

I paint a bit, so probably that would be an option... Who knows!  But if reading, travelling, eating good food and just being lazy was a paid job then that would surely have been an earnest choice.

5. For a complete outsider with inroads, what advice would you like to give?

Unfortunately, it is difficult for "outsiders" in this industry. but it's not impossible. There are people genuinely interested in talent only. If you know your craft and are good at it then for sure there’ll be recognition. Sadly, it might take time. but hard work and talent are the only things that matter in the long run. So, I would say, keep at it.

6. What is your mantra of success?

Well, I don't really have a mantra for success yet, because I don't see success as achieving a singular end goal. Success is a process to me, staying true to yourself, doing the kind of work you can be proud of. 

Making the people in your life happy is success to me. And in these trying times, just having a good day is a success.

7. Who is your favourite writer and why?

Ok now, this is a tough one. I have always been an introvert so reading is one of my favourite things to do. I grew up reading a lot of mysteries. Satyajit Ray's 'feluda " series is an all-time favourite. So is the Sherlock Holmes series. I got into philosophy and poetry so Kahlil Gibran, Rumi, Friedrich Nietzsche, Aristotle, Mirza Ghalib, Gulzar, Rabindranath Tagore are some of my favourites. 

I do enjoy reading short stories, so O. Henry, Oscar Wilde, Nabarun Bhattacharya are lovely reads. Among playwrights, Bertolt Brecht, Maxim Gorky, Henrik Ibsen, William Shakespeare Badal Sarcar and Girish Karnad are some I have always enjoyed reading and I must mention Arundhati Roy as " The god of small things "  has moved me to the core and Chiamamanda Ngozi Adichie as " We all should be feminists '' should be read by everybody.

8. What piece of advice would you like to give to future and aspiring artists?

Follow your heart. Work hard. Try to get better at your craft but mostly don't base your entire life around a job and live a whole happy life. Because if you don't have life experiences then there’s not much to bring to the table and never forget to have some fun.

Interview by - Amrutha

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