Winging it well

Winging it well

The pandemic might have put a stop to many a routine, but it also gave us the space and time to rethink, innovate and pick up new skills. Actors have led by example here, whether by force or choice.

The butterfly effect

Covid-19 may have upended our lives in many unfathomable ways, but it also gave us room to innovate, pick up a new skill or try something that we have never tried before.

Stuck at home and having ample time on hand, a few actors, however, did not let the pandemic hit months of 2020 go waste. They decided to make the best use of the time at hand rather than get stuck in a time warp. They did things that they never otherwise would have had the time to do and went all out to learn new things, only to discover a side of them that they didn't know existed. Developing hobbies and embracing things that they always wanted to do, they say, has fuelled their creativity and provided them with a renewed sense of purpose. 

The actors have kept in touch with the hobbies they picked up even after they have returned to their work schedules; this has made them realise the importance of setting apart time to do things that they feel passionate about. And therein lies a story and a lesson perhaps for all of us — that it is not only important to give ourselves the time to pause and reflect, but to also allow oneself to doggedly follow through one's passions.

DHoS spoke to actors across language industries and asked them about their quarantine hobbies and how they plan to stick to them. Here's what they had to say: 

'My creative ideas would flow into the kitchen as well'

Multi-lingual actor Ramesh Aravind, who has started shooting for 'Shivaji Surathkal 2', confesses that he had never entered the kitchen until the pandemic made him do so. "It was sometime at the start of the pandemic in 2020 that I decided to try my hands at cooking. I didn't know one ingredient from another, but I would religiously follow all cooking instructions on YouTube whenever I cooked. I would try simple dishes from anything like pongal, rice and katte dal to making stir-fried bok choy. My wife was relieved that I could finally survive on my own and I was thrilled at picking up a new quarantine hobby."

He says he now holds women in more respect, having tasted first hand the toil and drudgery that kitchen work entails before the tasty food arrives on to the table. He says that the craze for cooking "a dish a day" lasted for about 25 to 30 days after which he returned to do what he loves doing best — reading and scriptwriting. 

What changed after he began cooking? "My creative ideas would flow into the kitchen as well. I would choose recipes that could be easily understood and work with ingredients available in the fridge. Thanks to websites that offer cooking suggestions, my task was made easier. I discovered a side of me that I didn't know existed," says Ramesh. 

While cooking, he was reminded of a scene from his Kannada film, 'Rangenahalliyagi Rangada RangeGowda' where he played the role of a cook. "There's a scene where I was cooking chicken by following the instructions on TV. Suddenly, my sister-in-law (in the film) changes the channel to yoga where they talk about lifting a leg and taking a deep breath. Not knowing that the channel had been changed, I make chicken masala based on the 'Suryanamaskara' recipe. It was hilarious," he recalls. 

'Farming is like meditation'

Actor Upendra launched his political party in 2017. While films and working for his party take up most of his time, little do people know that his passion for farming and agriculture runs deep. During the quarantine period and much after that, Upendra took to agriculture at his farm near the Big Banyan Tree on Mysore Road.

"My friends and I spent a month on the farm. I would, earlier, do a little farming but the lockdown gave me an opportunity to plunge into it full time," says Upendra. He ploughed the land, mixed manure and tilled the soil to make it fertile. "We grew vegetables like brinjal,  greens, tomato, cucumber and even planted a few coconut trees. Working hard all day in the sun was not only a stressbuster, but also proved to be a natural workout. Farming, for me, is like yoga and meditation. Watching the plants grow and bear fruit is such a fulfilling process. The pandemic helped me discover small joys like these," adds Upendra. 

'My flute lessons are going great'

Bollywood actor Ronit Roy has always taken things as they come and never stresses about anything. He was learning the saxophone when he stumbled upon a wooden flute at one of the antique shops in the location where he was shooting. "I picked it up almost instantly. Through self-tutoring sessions, I began learning how to play the flute. I then realised that if I'm spending so much time on this I should get myself a tutor. I have never met my teacher in person, but my flute lessons are going great," says Ronit, who is seen in the role of a teacher in 'Candy', a web series that dropped on an OTT platform recently. Ronit has returned to shooting, but he relaxes by playing the flute whenever he can grab some spare time. 

'I began cycling 60 to 70 km a day'

Sandalwood actor Shivarajkumar, who was among the first to return to shooting when the government eased restrictions, says that the pandemic and the lockdown gave him a chance to re-visit his fitness routine in a big way.

The 59-year-old actor says he took to cycling at least 60 to 70 km a day. "This is something that I never had the time to do before. I also made alterations to my workout routine and began walking a lot. The pandemic locked us in our homes. Just eating and sitting around would have proved toxic for me, so I decided to embrace fitness in a big way," says the veteran actor. He realises being active has improved his concentration and ideation process. "After dedicating a good number of hours to fitness, I would binge watch and treat myself to some classic English films that I would otherwise never have had the time to watch. This kickstarted a whole new creative process about cinema," he says. 

'There's so much energy in the classroom' 

Actor Boman Irani, who recently co-hosted the comedy show, 'LOL: Hasse toh Phasse' with actor Arshad Warsi, lost no time in converting the lockdown into a more useful endeavour.

He launched 'Spiral Bound', a writing workshop that has completed a year. "I have been wanting to learn screenwriting and even teach it for a while now. With the pandemic and shooting being cancelled, I put the time to good use. We completed almost 500 sessions during the lockdown period and the screenwriting sessions had not less than 350 students of all age groups. You could call it a movement of sorts, which has kickstarted discussions about various aspects of filmmaking and cinema," Boman told DHoS.

He believes that there are definite techniques that help break down the process of filmmaking. "These techniques and most importantly, film appreciation, help in understanding the anatomy of screenplay, dialogue writing and character development. These are important aspects that we don't give enough attention to." 

His workshop did well to teach basics and help aspiring film writers build on that knowledge. What was his inspiration? "The idea took seed a few years ago when I started writing a screenplay myself. I realised that the art and creativity was there but the science was missing, so I took up screenwriting as a pet subject to study and master. It was only during the pandemic that it took a definite shape and structure," he says. The veteran actor believes that a great story can be told well only if the screenplay is strong. "I enjoy this initiative that I started because there's so much energy in the classroom," Boman signs off. 

'I learnt how to bake bread'

Eat, sleep, cook... repeat... this best describes the schedule of the 'Shershaah' actor Sidharth Malhotra during the initial months of the lockdown in 2020. The lockdown also made Sidharth try his hand at baking bread. "My quarantine hobby was learning how to make bread. I used gluten-free seeds instead of yeast and threw in healthy ingredients like oats and other nuts. My bread turned out heavy and looked more like a cake, but I like to still call it bread," he laughs. The idea struck him when he ran out of bread and decided to bake one himself, says the actor. What else is on his list of hobbies? Sidharth has always had a fetish for solving puzzles and he found his mojo in solving 3D puzzles during the pandemic. "I was always intrigued by these puzzles and I finally got a chance to immerse myself in it during the lockdown."

Power yoga it is 

Actor Priyamani is still basking in the success of 'The Family Man' series. The multi-lingual actor embraced power yoga during the pandemic year. "I would always do light workouts and yoga too, but I had never done power yoga before. I began giving a lot of importance to staying fit and eating right. This form of yoga did well to boost my energy levels and I now never get tired and feel any fatigue," says Priyamani. She trains under Gunjan Kamra, who she says, has transformed many lives. "Yoga has brought about a lot of peace of mind and balance in me. Even after shooting long hours, I can still retain a sense of positivity and energy," she adds. 

Embracing a new language

Bollywood actor Elli AvrRam, who was last seen in 'Malang', is from Greece and spent a better part of her life there till she decided to give into her interest for learning different languages and experiencing new cultures. This is what brought her to India a decade ago and she has made this her home ever since. She speaks five Indian languages, including Hindi and Marathi. However, during the pandemic, she chose to learn Italian, a language she always wanted to master. "It has always been my dream to visit Italy and live there. It's a beautiful language and hearing it is like music to the ears. The sense of romance about the place and its rich culture has always fascinated me," Elli tells DHoS. The pandemic, she says, has helped her learn new languages. "We will connect with the place, its culture and people at a deeper level if we understand and embrace the language of that region."

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox