Learning from the master himself – an evening with Shivaram Anna for Tent Cinema Students

“An actor is someone who acts a given role, an artist is one who delves deep into the character and makes the audience relate to it, make them think that he or she is speaking on their behalf.“ Such words of wisdom and experience flowed to the students at Tent Cinema.

On a Sunday evening, Shivaram S, fondly known as Sivaram Anna, one of Kannada Cinema’s stalwarts shared anecdotes of his long and illustrious journey in the film Industry with the students. In a career spanning several decades and more than 300 films he has been an artist, producer and director. Among the long list of films that he has acted in, ‘Sharapanjara’, ‘Shubamangala’ and ‘Guru Shisyaru’ are still evergreen in the hearts of film lovers.

In a candid talk that spanned various topics, he touched upon the importance of having the hunger to learn the various nuances of film-making, the art and techniques involved. “An artist must have the hunger to learn everything about his line of work; that hunger will drive him or her. From a student to a master, this journey has to be made by every budding artist”.

He also emphasised that young artists need to learn the various facets of acting by being a part of theatre. Acting in a play brings in different layers of making a character, building it, facing the audience, voice modulation, the focus of staying and moving in the moment. This experience of moving from character to character brings about the versatility in an actor, and adds to the skills.

“Look into the mirror, do your own action – record it and do a fine-combed review of it, do it until you are yourself completely convinced that this is the best you have got”. He stressed upon the points that a good artist constantly observes the world around, so that it gets easy when he or she gets to don a new role, they get deep into the character and the role effortlessly. Knowing the history of the character, delving deep into the dimensions of why, what and how his or her life has been shaped is a necessary exercise every artist must undertake, he mused. 

It was a great session filled with learning for all the students that had gathered there; they could learn a lot just by observing Shivaram Anna’s style of talking, voice modulation, his comic timing, his body language and the way he held the attention of such a large crowd. Drawing from his experience that has spanned an era, he explained the importance of learning from world cinema. He encouraged the students to watch and learn from yesteryears’ legends such as Lawrence Olivier, Don Livingstone and Richard Leen. He emphasised that “it is good to follow great artists, but do not copy them. It takes away the all-important originality of your own talent”.

Sometimes, he mused – there comes a time when the right talent meets the right opportunity and finally success shines on you. It is absolutely essential for a budding artist to maintain one’s personality, shunning laziness – to maintain and build a flexible body. Adding to this he mentioned that an artist needs to work on the voice, as it adds a vital element to the overall charisma of the artist. Shivaram Anna made it a very interesting and thought-provoking session, sharing from his vast library of knowledge to the eager minds of the students at Tent Cinema. His words of advice were golden for each one of them, as they could learn a lot from his vast experience.

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