Self-taught: Becoming an actor was not pre meditated. I had no time but to say yes or no to the film offers at hand and I chose to say yes! When I signed my first film I enrolled in a workshop with theatre director Feroz Khan. By the time I was ready for a specialised course I had already gained adequate experience on the job. When I went through the course materials I realised I had already learnt from work experience and books. Today I am not just an actor but a film producer with no formal training and I can confidently say that I do not regret learning on the job. True knowledge is gained through experience. Besides if I ever choose to specialise in any aspect of film making I can always opt for a course. I keep going back and doing workshops with Barry John.
Advantage: Learning from mistakes can become an invaluable lesson. I think I it made me hungry to learn. I was always on my toes with my ears and eyes wide open. Questioning, absorbing, seeking…I still am.
Disadvantage: On a personal level preparedness would have made a big difference. A course certainly helps. But many of my friends who have done courses in film have had to unlearn a lot. Nothing prepares you for the truth the camera will unfold.
Qualified: Professional training in the creative arts gives one an additional advantage. My skills as cinematographer, DI producer, Vfx entrepreneur and film producer were gained over five years of practical experience. When I decided to pursue acting as a full-time career, the decision to study acting with the Barry John Acting Studio was a given. Since action is my passion, I decided to train in Stunt Direction as well at the AFW, North Carolina.
Advantages: As one starts to gain experience in the craft, one gets to enhance their skill sets and hone the nuances. However a strong foundation in the basics only helps you speed up the learning curve.
Disadvantages: Its a continuous learning process
Qualified: Actually it’s my mother’s fault. She said that I could choose to do anything I want but that I have to go to university first. I would have opted to join a theatre group, but parental sensibility sent me to Goldsmiths University first!
Advantage: The most important thing is perspective and life experience. If I hadn’t gone to London, hadn’t met people of all origins and cultures, hadn’t learnt the craft of acting, hadn’t understood the behind-the-scenes work, hadn’t seen some of the best theatre companies perform live, I would be a different person today.
Disadvantage: When you study there will always be academics who tell you this is the right way but life shows you there is no right and wrong way. So, I suppose the disadvantage is that you have to forget or reject some things you learn when you actually put them into practice and find they work on an intellectual level but not on an emotional and practical level.
Qualified: The global business of fashion is more organised compared to India. Our focus for too long has been more to do with production and export and the retail segment is now in its nascent phase. I saw the need to be a part of an organised system of hi-fashion business and trade. Hence the decision to do a masters and work there for a while.
Advantage: It gave me an insight into an international perspective of luxury, which is very different to how Indian market views luxury. Couture is a very different ball game internationally while it is predominantly an extension of bridal wear in India.
Disadvantages: When you return most companies don’t view international exposure as a plus, but claim that your local market experience is just two years and peg you back.
Self-taught: The best experience is hands-on experience learnt on the job. It is like learning professional cooking from a chef at a great institute. But till the time you don’t cook yourself and keep practising, it will never be of any use. But for a practising to be a professional doctor you cannot learn straight hands on the job. Since the fashion industry is highly evolved and experiences changes and fresh variants in terms of visual and creative efforts it needs an instinctive and aesthetic mind rather than a textual knowledge of the subject.
Advantages: You have to rely on your judgement. There’s a lot of room for experimentation. In fact you can make your own rules to see if it clicks or not.
Disadvantages: Doing things at my pace meant I could do only what I thought was important or mattered. A course would have prepared me to put everything together at a given time.
Qualified: I thought I should do an MBA to understand the basic principles of being an entreprenurship; to learn to manage cash flow and carry out a business plan. I thought it would give me a head start to understand concepts, analyse business problems and set targets.
Advantage: It has given me a launch pad to achieve my goal much faster.
Disadvantage: Approach and thinking becomes analytical and rational. Although I venture into new businesses making it challenging for myself, the “what if” factor always comes along. The various cases of failures in management have been taught. So the benefit of indefinite business is lost. He is CEO, myBskool.com and a serial entrepreneur.
Self-taught: I have always wanted to be on my own; so I started TATA Indicom CNS distribution right after my graduation. Then I started Boomerang in Vellore, then my dream of starting a gadget store happened. I feel that six months of actual business experience equals two years of MBA. It’s your business; you need to come up with your own strategies and USP. A book can’t tell you how to do it.
Advantage: Saved time and money.
Disadvantage: I didn’t know a thing about money management when I started. I didn’t even know how to create a balance sheet. I had to learn from scratch. He is founder, Signal Groups – Telecom/gadget retail, Boomerang gaming parlour and optical store.
Self-taught: To support and fund my dancing career, I am doing my CA and have taken up a job. I don’t want to depend on my parents. Having a professional qualification means I have something to fall back on. So between my job and dance, I do not have time to pursue a degree in dance, which I would like to do later. But this has not affected my performances.
Advantage: I can concentrate on learning performance-oriented pieces. It also lends to more creativity, as I’m not bound by the rules of the academics and scriptures.
Disadvantage: Having a degree is a value-addition. It gives theoretical insight into dance and confidence to talk about it.
Qualified: I have been dancing pretty much all my life and been concentrating only on the practical side. Having done a Bachelors in Neuro Science, I felt the need to learn the theory aspect of dance as well to apply it to my performances and so did a Masters in Bharathanatyam.
Advantage: This helped me to talk about the origin of dance and to simplify our complicated culture to a foreign audience. Another advantage is that I could do allied courses like Sanskrit which helped me understand the nuances in the lyrics.
Disadvantage: The lack of structure and archaic rules that we had to abide by. Also, students with different levels of expertise were clubbed into one course. But it is the clash of style and approach taught in the university that was a problem. As the only male dancer in a class of 15, the practical classes did not add much value.
Qualified: It was mainly because of my sister who had done the course and influenced me with stories of her experiences. Also, being a Dalit, I wanted to do something for my community. A degree in this field helped me convert the data collected by field workers into policy-influencing information supported by factual data.
Advantage: I now have an identity in my field. I work on international platforms and have a good network of contacts. Without my degree, it would have been tougher.
Disadvantage: I have to work in the same pool as field workers with 10-20 years of experience. It’s my four years against their 10-20. He is Community Relations Manager, International Justice Mission.
Self-taught: I was an advertising and branding professional before Chennai Volunteers happened. We partner about 25 NGOs, identify their needs and connect them with individuals and corporates that are willing to volunteer. My marketing and managements principles are handy in an unstructured environment.
Advantage: Being an outsider gives me new perspectives and ideologies. Creating partnering modules and structures is new to this field and it has been possible because I come from outside this sector.
Disadvantage: None really because it’s the passion that drives me. But I would love to learn more regarding the field and its nuances.
Self-taught: As a teacher and school librarian for over 28 years, I have always been fascinated by the art of storytelling. I used it while teaching English, History and Social Studies to enhance the curriculum. At that time, there wasn’t a course that I could do nor did I have enough money. So what I do now as a story teller has been what I developed through experiences and observation. There was innovation and discovery along the way.
Advantage: There is no reference material I am bound to or fear adhering to. No limitation or restriction to my thinking.
Disadvantage: The courses at Kathalaya are more a framework for people to come up with their own method and style. We show them the way to go about discovering the art. Basically, if I had enrolled in a similar course, I would have save time too. She is a storyteller and founder of Kathalaya, the academy of story telling.
Qualified: I trained under Dr. Vayu Naidu. My initial training took place as part of my Bachelors degree in a module entitled ‘Oral Traditions of India’ and continued with a specialized two-year apprenticeship with Vayu Naidu Company, UK. Her training allowed me to draw on her experiences the many years and stories she has invested into her craft. This gave me a deeper understanding of storytelling as professional practice and allowed me to hone my skills under her guidance and mentorship.
Advantage: My training allowed me to study the elements of an effective storytelling performance: i.e. voice, characterisation, movement, emotion and see how I could then apply these to my performances. Training with Vayu showed me how important it is to invest in your craft as a continued development and to always be open to improve and learn new skills.
Disadvantage: It is important to place your skills and training within a variety of real-life experiences and contexts; only then can you really assess the effectiveness of your work. Working in the UK, in schools, hospitals, refugee centres, and travelling to India to work with the Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam, Tamil Nadu, has allowed me to reflect on my craft and the impact that it can and will have on people across the world.He is a freelance storyteller.
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