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Going Independent on Instagram | Dhruv Shah

 

Going Independent on Instagram | Dhruv Shah 




why did i quit a well-paying job to do what i love well i'm an artist a poet but in my job i couldn't show it my alarm clock was an email and my nightlight was gmail you see us artists we need to perform to stay alive give us a script and watch us thrive but back then my job was my only jive us closeted artists we have responsibilities we are bound but honestly we are just waiting to be found every day i dive into the work grind and by evening i'd lost my mind every day i'd cater to every request as if it was life's biggest conquest but finally there came a day where i refused to sign another nda until my own feelings saw the light of day i had a lot to say and time was slipping away so i refused to waste another lunch break and filling out in voices and drowning my voices because i'm an artist a poet and i had to show it and would my appraisal have been in rhyme darling you know i'm worth every dime thank you i've always had a love for the performance arts ever since i was a child but rewind seven years and i was confronted with that dilemma in my life where i had to choose which profession i wanted to adopt to make a living i loved biology and so i wanted to pursue medicine and possibly be a surgeon but i wasn't ready to invest seven years of my life into studying medicine and eventually i fell in love with psychology so i got my bachelor's degree in psychology and then specialized as a clinical hypnotherapy and past life regression therapist i started treating clients using hypnotherapy i loved understanding human behavior and the human mind but i had this need to create i wanted to do more than just client sessions so i got my first full-time job as a content writer at a content and marketing agency but i still felt like i wanted to do more than writing so i got my next full-time job at a well-known content and culture company here i managed some of india's biggest comedians and content creators such as kanangil and kani surka and as my exposure to the field of content increased my wings as an artist started to open i soon realized that i can tap into my childhood talents such as my love for performing and writing and i started creating spoken word poetry i soon published a series of spoken word poems on instagram called project speak which stood for speak productively engage and know my poems were based on my life experiences with issues such as gender roles and body shaming and soon thousands of people started liking and sharing my poetry my story seemed to resonate with a lot of people i remember a female sent me a message saying that her fiance who she was about to marry but wasn't masculine enough when she saw my poem she realized that not his masculinity but his heart is what was going to stay with them and such responses on the internet made me realize that my work was forming an impact and resonating with people now let the record show that at this point i was still in a full-time job managing multiple artists producing shows managing brand work and creating pictures so after my day in office i'd come home set up my camera and tripod and film my poetry after getting my satisfactory take i sat color correcting editing adding subtitles and music to my videos till three o'clock in the morning and then in a few hours i went back to work six months into my job i realized that i would thrive much better as an artist than a someone managing artists and so i sent a letter an email to my ceo titled furthering talent explaining to them how i thought i would do much better as an artist than as an employee but they rather wanted me as an employee so i continued working and got a lavish peris i quit my job six months later to pursue being an actor and a content creator full time during this phase a friend of mine malika dua who happens to be an actor suggested that if my life and my heart thrived when i was performing then there was no option besides going to acting school and that's exactly what i did and my training as an actor was life changing which is not something i say easily the acting course was brutal but incredible every day i had to unlearn and confront aspects of my own self that i didn't even know existed and then i had to channelize my emotions into scenes scripts and characters it was incredible but initially i kept getting feedback that the audience couldn't see the real me in a scene that i was playing my idea of a character learn from society such as ideas of masculinity and of dominance so my acting coach told me to just be myself to bring myself in the scene and to bring my version of the character into a scene rather than a superimposed idea of the character and one day i was tired of trying to ace it so i just brought myself into the scene and that's the day my scene got applause because it was believable organic and natural and i was just myself now with these new found versions of myself i started creating characters for instagram mail as well as female characters i have a female character her name is tanya and she tanya is an exotic french diva that is tanya in the middle tanya is an exotic french diva who is a very extravagant lady and lives in mumbai but she doesn't understand indian culture soon i was invited to interview bollywood celebrities rajkumar bowman iranian and couple of others as tanya for a movie promotion so i created a talk show called tea with tanya where i could interview celebrities and i wore my wig in front of three men who stared awkwardly at me in the studio bathroom went on the floor and interviewed the actors i have an other male character called chacha chaturvedi is an old school man who grew up on a farm in a village he only speaks hindi he doesn't understand social media and he doesn't understand millennials but he lives in mumbai and his journey is about how he understands what is happening in this world of instagram another female character that i created is tia kapoor now tia kapoor is the secret daughter of a well-known bollywood family soon these characters developed an audience of admirers not to mention some awkward requests such as wanting to tattoo tanya's autograph on their body but can you imagine that the same guy who had been bullied for not being masculine enough was now being celebrated for his female characters that tells us something really interesting about stereotypes they limit us from accessing sides of our own self that we suppress and push away because we don't think they'll find acceptance and then we create characters to live the lives that we never allow ourselves to live but it's really exciting to see which side of you manifests when you perform a surrender to a character all it takes is the courage to try something new and the vulnerability to go to that space within yes i have a thin body and a small face not enough masculine grace you're not manly enough they say but today my feelings will see the light of day no no we're not fools but still here it goes i have some questions some apprehensions such as why should he see a shrink because he likes the color pink and why should she too if she likes the color blue who decided these molds who made these gender roles what gives them their hold no there's nothing bored about calling someone tiny about calling someone fat your ego isn't shiny and your morality is a dead rat you're body shaming which is just blaming your own inadequacies on another person's build no there's nothing skilled you're just wrong yes there's no rhyme there but i don't really care i know i'm a poet and i don't need to show it but here's something you need to know the size of your brain it needs to grow the wonderful thing about being a poet or an actor and content creator is that there's a lot of freedom of expression but this profession is at a very nascent stage of development the key responsibility areas are undefined and the job mandates vary from creator to creator and company to company which is why i believe that it's important to have a plan if you want to survive sustainably and work for the long run here's an example of what my content plan looks like for the year but a word of caution that freelance does come with an initial instability in income compared to a full-time job and i still would say that i get great satisfaction in terms of doing what i love but i would also say that being a content creator isn't readily looked at as a most viable career option in fact on a recent trip someone once came up to me handing over a product they had launched requesting me to make a poem and publish it on my instagram page and i look forward to promoting brands through my craft but people presume that a one minute video takes only one minute away to make because that's all they see on screen but if you've ever worked in production you know that there are so many behind the scenes factors that predict that consumers and audiences don't see when they are watching a piece of content which is why the field of content creation is probably looked at as a hobby more than it is a profession but it very much is a profession in fact i would like to share a personal anecdote from some years ago when i remember i asked spiritual leader puja gurudev shri rakeshbai on guidance on which field to to choose between science and commerce because these were the two main fields at the time and what he said to me that day has really been a reason for me to grow as a person he didn't tell me which field to choose between but told me to use my own head to think and figure it out and not having a ready-made answer is what actually cultivated my own abilities to find my own answers and my own path and now seven years later when i look back i'm so grateful for that guidance because my career ended up being neither of the two options that i presented in fact i regularly attend puja gurudeva shri rakesh by his discourses and the spiritual nourishment wisdom and inspiration that i get from him sometimes even spills over into my work making me more aware about how i can heal and help others through my content the good thing about social media is that it's made everything a meritocracy all you need to be recognized is you need an internet connection a camera and a message worth sharing and chances are if your message comes from a space of honesty then it will resonate with people and they will amplify the message for example the last poem i released spoke about human rights issues in my country it's called enough and within a few hours of releasing the poem from mumbai the poem reached cities across the world to cities such as london ladakh delhi and kashmir soon a well-known news channel wanted to carry it can you imagine that a poem i produced in my own house ended up reaching thousands of people and having international impact this made me realize my own worth as a creator i realized that not only can i use my platform to share my art but also to make the world a better place by standing for the causes that i believe in i want to use my voice to abolish animal cruelty such as the testing of cosmetics on animals or the meat industry the way animals are being treated and tortured today is miserable and the good thing about social media is you no longer need to be a politician or a celebrity for your message to be worth sharing that's the power of the internet deciding to quit a well-paying job to do what i love has taken me from someone who used to sit in web series narrations to someone who recently narrated my own web series to a production company i would say that being employed gave me wings but going independent is what taught me how to use my wings to fly it's 2020 it's the beginning of a new decade and i think it's time that we start telling real stories that are a departure from stereotypical content because the more reality finds representation online and in cinema the more everyone's collective anxiety as society will be reduced because we know of because we no longer have to pursue these unrealistic ideals of beauty and romance that we see in cinema and the more we allow people to be original and don't condemn them for being different the more freshness we will start seeing in society we're all different not weird but different so we need to stop forcing people into boxes we need to learn to celebrate art without trying to alter it to fit into our narrow concepts my family is an open-minded and progressive family i have the privilege of having parents who understand my kind of work and this makes it much easier for a millennial like me to create the kind of content that i create and i would say that that's how non-judgmental and accepting an environment must be if we want originality and individuality to flourish in society and even content i would like to conclude with something i realized recently and something i request that we all start saying more to each other you're not weird you're original celebrate yourself thank you you  


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