Fame For Roles: How artists use their platform to change professions

Arnojya Shree examines the phenomenon of career change in the Arts

Arnojya Shree
28th September 2020

Art, I believe, is that one creative field where its various forms seem to merge into another. It is easy to crossover because somehow, the basics of all artistry are the same; to extract the abstract and bring it into existence.

When artists switch careers or have many at once, which has become a common phenomenon around the world, I suppose it’s something of a similar nature. From an artist’s perspective, it seems quite fitting because switching into another creative or performative career happens as a way of being attracted by the prospect of letting your creativity flow through a different medium.

Musicians, more than others, move into the profession of acting and vice versa, across the globe. The privilege of easy access into another creative industry is something that comes with having an already established popular status in the field. I used to wonder if celebrities using this privilege is unfair, but I guess it’s a subjective one to answer. As far as my opinion is considered, art is liberation. Liberation then must allow people, whoever they may be to venture into various fields, acting here, for instance, and create something worthwhile for themselves and the world. It would be unfair from my perspective to not give a chance to an artist to try their skills in acting. However, at the same time, their privilege must be considered, and they must be treated regardless of their fame, the same as every other person on the film set.

If art is liberation, then, it is also honest and a field where fairness matters more than most

Recently, Harry Styles has been in the news and all over my dashboard due to his casting in three upcoming films. Directed by Olivia Wilde (Booksmart), Styles is about to star in Don’t Worry, Darling alongside Florence Pugh (Little Women), Chris Pine (Hell or High Water), and Dakota Johnson (The Social Network). He is also in negotiations for My Policeman, a film adaptation by Amazon Studios of the novel with the same name. Additionally, there have been talks about his casting with Marvel for The Eternals in the role of Starfox, Thanos’ brother. It is fair to say that Styles, who although denied his future inclinations towards movies previously might frequent the screen more often than planned. With his debut in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, he has already proved his exceptional talent in acting, which serves as an excellent example of using fame for the right reasons. Additionally, given the track record of directors like Nolan or Wilde, their decision of choosing Styles’ in a significant role is not to be questioned, and neither is Styles for his acting skills.

Apart from the English and American movie industry, the Indian movie industry has become famous for actors and comedians switching careers and moving into singing, and vice versa

Usually, Indian cinema follows the system of playback singing, wherein, the multiple featured songs which appear during the film are recorded by playback singers before the picturization is shot. The recorded songs are then lip-synced by the actors during the shooting of the song. However, in recent times, more and more established actors choose to sing one or more songs featured in the film replacing the playback singers. Some of the best examples follow Farhan Akhtar (Rockstar, Zindagi Milegi Na Dobara), Ayushmann Khurrana (Vicky Donor, Andhadhun), and Shruti Hassan (3, Puli). They come from a signing background and follow it as their alternative career path. Others, however, receive rigorous vocal training. Moreover, just like Jamie Foxx (Ray), Steve Carell (Foxcatcher), Tina Fey (Mean Girls), and Aziz Ansari (Master of None) who came from a background in comedy and then turned to films, a similar pattern exists in the Indian film industry as well. Comedians such as Vir Das (Go, Goa Gone, Delhi Belly), Sunil Grover (Bharat, Pataakha), Ali Asgar (Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki, Jeannie aur Juju), and Kiku Sharda (F.I.R, The Kapil Sharma Show) simultaneously follow the path of comedy, acting, and filmmaking.

'Vir Das'

Fair to say, it has become a worldwide trend for celebrities to use their fame and venture into different artforms. However, when it comes to deciding how we perceive people using their privilege to charter different artistic pathways, their skill, and hard work in the final output becomes the only real judge of it all. Art shouldn’t be limited for anyone, yet privilege can’t be overlooked, especially in the current times, where more and more difference seems to exist between people. However, difference and privilege are not all bad if they are acknowledged by the people to whom they belong. The decision of whether a celebrity venturing into another artistic pathway is not about right or wrong; instead, it is about how much passion, integrity, and honest effort is put into the mode of creativity. After all, as much as art is about liberation, it is also about truth.

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