Seven years ago, popular actress Preeti Ganguly decided to set up an acting school in Mumbai. Daughter of veteran actor Ashok Kumar, Ganguly was an immensely talented actress who performed exceedingly well in the comedy roles that came her way owing to her own outsized figure. At some stage, the actress felt that she wanted to engage in more meaningful endeavours. Her acting school is an outgrowth of this desire. Ganguly discusses her school and views about acting in general in an interview with Punam Mohandas. Excerpts:
Have you quit films altogether?
I am just doing one right now, for Sai Paranjpye. Where are the good films? People just wanted to exploit my figure, and now, since I've lost a lot of weight-50 kgs-there are no roles!
Whose idea was it to set up an acting academy?
Mine. Also, my own investment. Basically, because I felt I had so much to impart especially after my FTII course, and I wasn't able to do it vis-a-vis my roles. The whole path of acting is a discovery.
How much of an active role does your father play with regard to the academy?
He takes classes in film appreciation. But I take most of the classes. I wish he would take a more active part. Unfortunately, he is not doing that. Now, there's Shabana who's dying to teach. In fact, she has come here a few times.
How successful are these acting schools really?
I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing! I think acting cannot be taught-it's either there in you, or it's not. And you have to work hard at it. We work 12 hours a day.
Ideally, we should have 15 students at a time. But we never reach that with all the discouraging talk that goes around us. Seriously, I could have made a lot of money, but I can't do that. It wouldn't be right.
Are you saying that acting schools are just there to hoodwink people?
Yes. They are a big con job. But that's not what I want to do.I charge Rs 16,000 for a six-month course. People tell me that some others charge Rs 58,000 for a three-month course. You can't be an actor in three months.
What sort of people go to an acting school? Everyone wants to be a Shah Rukh Khan. But I tell my students that they have to first discover themselves. Usually, people from the middle-rich class come for these classes.
Do you ensure their placement?
I direct my students to the right people. I also take them for the television serials that I am making.
Copyright © 1999 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.