In this dialogue, Actor and Dancer Ana Ilmi speaks with Mudit Pant about her journey that has led her to pursue her passion. Ana has been a participant in reality show India's Dancing Superstar. She has also been a choreographer in reality shows like Jhalak Dikhlaja and Nach Baliye. Apart from this, she has also been casted in Netflix film Bhangrapaale.
Ana shares how she started her journey when she was in high school, how she strived to create the right balance between dance and other things that were required of her to pursue her dreams. She also touches upon the challenges that she faces in the film industry, and also how she deals with them. Lastly, she shares a few things that are a part of her daily routine, and something that can also help us add more meaning to our lives.
Some of the key takeaways from the dialogue are as follows:
- Ana shares the set of challenges that she faced when she was in high school as her passion towards dancing grew. She mentions that daily routine is very important and that is what lead us to our goals. She shares the importance of extracurricular activities, and how Manava Bharati (Ana's high school) played in important role in this area, and help plant those initial seeds of acting and dancing in her.
- Ana shares even though she was acing her classes in science stream at school, her passion for dancing and acting only kept getting stronger and she wanted to study these. She touches upon the initial support and guidance that she got from her school teachers and also her parents. She gave up her admission in one of the top colleges in Delhi, knowing that she would not have enjoyed those years and would study something which she would never pursue after. It is very important to start thinking what you like doing, and simultaneously with that to have a good support system around you.
She shares how her mind was fixated on dancing as a career with no second doubts in her mind. Even though dancing was her primary goal, Ana ensured to complete her studies on the side and join a college along with her dancing commitments. A lot of times things that are expected from us are not what we want to pursue. Ana shares the importance of meeting in the middle in these kind of scenarios For her, it was to balance the academics and dance together, which made people around her happy. Looking back, she mentions that she is glad that she got her degree as even for studying dance, basic level of education is a required.
- Ana touches upon the 'hustle' as being part of her career. Anyone who is into the acting/dancing world needs to go through a constant hustle. Nothing is going to come easy. Ana mentions that there is no end to her acting journey, as she has surrendered herself to it, and now it has become a part of her lifestyle. The more pressure one starts making in terms of getting results, the harder and more challenging the journey becomes.
- On coping with challenges in this industry, Ana mentions that one needs to have 0% expectations and 100% motivation. She talks about the importance of not getting overwhelmed by the failure that comes during the journey. Failure cannot become stepping stone to success if you take it to heart and not carefully analyze it. You can't be overwhelmed by the setback, you need to overwhelm the setbacks! One should not let setbacks and rejections conquer them. Rejections are common while getting selected is rare.
- She also touches upon some of the challenges that she faces on her acting projects - There are so many intricacies, sometimes you do not know if it is the right project for you, sometimes you do not know if you are right for a project, sometimes you do not meet the right kind of people, sometimes you meet lovely people but it does not work out, maybe your face but your body is not right for a role etc. Therefore, it becomes very important to focus and work on yourself. For Ana, every time when she is unable to get a role that she is auditioning for she thinks that there is something more that she needs to achieve out of herself and become a better version of herself. For a failure, think that it is the universe's way to push you to become a better actor, by not giving you the role. This she shares is not just thinking, but an important part of the preparation.
- Ana shares when things crack and work out for her, it is not luck it is the training that you put in all the years. She also shares a saying, when luck comes to your door be ready to open the door, which again means be prepared!
- On how to make her character believable, Ana shares that she took an acting workshop where she came across the Misner technique. The technique says to be truthful in an imaginary circumstance. Now when you play a character, you create an inner world and an outer world of a character. Inner life of the character would be what the point of view is towards opposite actor, what are eating habits like, etc. She also mentions how she observes people around her when she needs to play a character. For e.g. if the character requires her to smoke and in her true self she does not smoke, then she will need to observe people around her who smoke so that she can smoothly embed that into her role. Then the outer life of a character would involve how one walks etc. Inner and outer life would basically constitute the required actor!
- Ana shares being live on stage is more scary than being in front of a camera, as in front of a camera you can do multiple retakes but that does not stand true for when one is on the stage. She talks about the importance of not getting influenced by external spotlight when one is on stage. This is instilled through rigorous training sessions. She shares she is in meditation mode when she is on the stage. It is therefore important to leave your personal emotions out of stage so you are able to fully sink in to the character, who would have its own emotions. In order to constantly stay in the meditation zone, personal regime plays an important role: fitness, meditation, giving all in every practice without fail.
- She shares that if one gives 1000% in practice, only 70% will come out on stage. The pressure is always there subconsciously during the final performance (but the audience will see your 100%)
- Ana mentions that people are constantly looking and comparing their journeys with others. It has only become easier with the advent of social media, which leads the mind towards unhealthy competition. This can be turned into healthy competition only if one works on themselves positively. It is not wise to waste time and energy on other people's journey. In order to have a positive mindset, it is important to have a disciplined routine.
- Ana shares two of her biggest learnings that she has had in her acting career so far: Patience is everything - It is an underestimated virtue. One needs to be patient as things come back if done with the right intentions.
Training never goes waste - somewhere the karma, work that you put in comes back. She briefly makes a reference to law of harvest, which states that what we put in to this world, comes back to us! This is something that one needs to trust, this is how the universe works...
- It is important to love life and love the present. Staying in the moment is the best one can do. By doing this one can give their 100 percent in the moment and experience it. Enjoy the process so that it does not seem like that you are doing something for a reason. Do what you enjoy, and question yourself if you are not enjoying it. Doing something to impress someone is a very short lived journey. Enjoy what you do, have trust and you will automatically see the fruits!
- It is very important to sit with your self and understand what you like doing in life. Most people are doing things that they do not really enjoy doing. They are just doing it because someone said that you have to do this. Once you figure out what you like doing, then make it a part of your life. If you do what you like, then you will start liking and enjoying the process to it. It is important to find a method in the madness, make your way in the chaotic world. Figure out your personal method that works for you, and this could change with time, but it is important to try and have trust!