To grasp the full significance of life is the actor’s duty; to interpret it his problem; and to express it his dedication.
What does film making have to do with reading? Everything. A movie always begins with a story. It may be an existing book that one may desire to adapt into a movie, or a writer may write a story specifically for a movie. The next and one of the most important parts of making a movie is writing its script.
It is on the basis of reading what is on the script that the process of making a movie begins to roll. However when we say that reading is important in the film making process, we don’t just allude to reading a script. We mean people on the film business should be voracious readers of books.
Reading expands the horizons of the mind like nothing else. Long before there was cinema and television, there was reading. For thousands of years people around the world have received wisdom by reading books. Books about religion, philosophy, literature, science, mathematics, astronomy and every other conceivable subject have shaped human consciousness and helped mankind progress down the ages.
Books like the Arthshastra, the Holy Bible, Mahabharata, Ramayana, The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, Iliad, Odyssey, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver’s Travels, The Count of Monte Cristo, Madhushala, Gunahon Ka Devta, Raag Darbari and many many more have had a profound influence on people around the world. In fact our exposure to books starts very early in life when we are first introduced to the alphabet.
Is it any wonder that some of the greatest movies in the world are adaptations are of great books? The Ten Commandments, Ben Hur, Gone With the Wind, the Bond movies, the Harry Potter series, Hunger Games, Junoon, Baji Rao Mastani and so many more.
Is it also a coincidence that some of the biggest names in literature wrote for the movies? Kaifi Azmi, Jahnisar Akhtar, Harivansh Rai Bachchan, Sadat Hassan Manto, Salman Rushdie, Arthur Miller are just a few among many famous literary figures who worked closely with filmmakers. The reason for this of course is the fact that filmmakers are basically in the business of rendering human interest stories through a visual medium and this leads to a symbiotic relationship between writers and those in the movie business. An example of this is found in how popular writer Chetan Bhagat’s books regularly get made into movies.
It therefore follows that apart from learning about the film making process itself, those in the film business need to take out time to read and then read some more. The thing about books is that they allow the reader to fully inhabit a make believe world in all its intricacies and idiosyncrasies, unlike a move which at two- plus hours can at best provide you vignettes of someone’s life.
A writer has the luxury of developing characters in all their intricate nuances, or a geographical area in all its vivid detail. They do so in a manner that transports the reader, heart and soul into the world that they create, for the hours or days it takes to finish reading the book. This provides a movie script writer, director or actor with the right kind of inputs to hone their craft and deliver a product as close to the complete experience that reading a book provides, as is possible.
If one looks around in the world of movies, one will see that a number of directors, screenplay writers and directors come from a family of writers or poets. If one has grown up around books, it is inevitable that one take to reading and grow up to be a reflective and sensitive person, qualities that people in the performing arts usually possess. That is why one will notice that such people are often found in performing arts like theatre and movies.
Youngsters who have embarked on a career in the movies would be well advised to become readers. It will not only give them greater insight into the human psyche which will aid their craft, but also make them great conversationalists, helping them network and make friends in the right places.
If you notice the way that even those actors who don’t hail from a particularly erudite background have evolved from the time that they joined the film industry to the present day you will witness a huge transformation- from simple and almost gauche youngsters to confident and much better spoken men of the world.
All of these actors obviously did a lot of reading and improved their outlook of life and definitely the way they spoke and appeared. Youngsters should also note that this is the era of intense promotion and being a good conversationalist is very essential for that. Reading therefore definitely has to be on the must do list of every such person who aspires to be a star in the movies.