In a refreshingly honest Facebook post titled, “Confessions of a failed actor”, Karthik Kumar, a Tamil actor, theatre artist, and stand-up comedian, announced that it was “time to hang those boots for good” after starring in 19 feature films. The 38-year-old blames himself for failing as an actor because he “sold himself short”, did not ask for more and failed to believe in himself.
Karthik admits that he set himself up for a fall when he accepted his first role, that of the chocolate boy romantic hero. He writes:
“I set myself up for a fall, when i accepted the part coz i told myself ‘its a feature film! who gets a feature film offered to them! its something! grab it!’... I had Cine managers signing me up for the potentially long list of such roles that i could be attracting thereafter.
I hated everything about the readiness of it all... like i was going to dive into a pattern already laid out neatly... i could have said NO!”
Hitting out at the film industry for forcing the mantra of “hit or miss” on him, Karthik says he was branded as a “second hero – the lower hero in the cast system”, making it difficult for him to find work thereafter. He says:
“By this time my ‘value’ had been pegged by the industry - good actor, no hangups, nice looking, theatre background, asks for script, not expensive... sounds reasonable? Nope - this is an alarm of disaster... it means you are ready and willing to be taken for a happy cheap mighty disrespectful ride...”
Karthik, who is the co-founder of Chennai’s theatre and entertainment group “Evam”, also observes that many actors with a theatre background were treated disrespectfully by the industry, underpaid, undervalued and edited out in the final cut. He writes:
“Many of my comrades from Theatre get treated disrespectfully - this doesnt mean we get treated badly... it means we don't get treated well or as equals... our time and value will be hugely compromised under the promise and veil of a ‘good role’ ‘ character’ etc...
Our need to find that special acting fix brings us to the honey - and then we get captured... in the myriad ways of assistant directors, executive producers etc... we will get smiled at - but thats about it... your last payments won't come in... your dates will be booked and unbooked at will... and your scene won't even be shot, leave alone being edited out...”
He concludes his post stating that he is quitting films because he ran out of hunger in cinema, noting,
“But the path I'm running is wrong... its better to stop running than run the wrong race!
Im stopping coz i KNOW I'm better than the race I'm running - I'm stupid to believe that i stayed in the race long enough to have people see potential in me... its my job to understand my potential... and respect it first!
Im hanging up my boots - maybe the wind will change... or the world will move on... but either way its time i stand my ground -and refuse to do any lesser than i would like to...
And for now... I'm unavailable as an actor, to myself even - coz iv hurt myself for too long... and in that process allowed everyone else to do the same... ”
His “confessions” have received support from a number of his fans and friends, who have lauded him for having the courage to write about the working of the Tamil film industry and for admitting his failures.
Some of the films Karthik has featured in include “Alaipayuthey”, “Kanda Naal Mudhal”, “Vepam” and “Pasanga 2”.
Read Karthik’s full post here: