It has been said that he who has a WHY to live for can bear almost any HOW. That’s the power and significance of purpose in our lives. Purpose makes our lives meaningful and provides direction. No matter how small or big that WHY be, it helps us persevere when things get tough. Similar thoughts were shared by Bollywood actor and model, Arman Nagpal, featured guest at our Saturday League. Scroll on to know more what Arman had to say.
Q. Let's start from the beginning. Tell us about your childhood, any teen tantrums and and when did you discover your passion for acting?
A. My journey started from school. For me, school was not the best place or the greatest time. Kids were not welcoming. I’d always wanted to act and be a part of the theatre of my school but they always considered me as a side actor. They would make me a tree or something else. It was at a summer acting camp in grade 9th or 10th that this acting bug really hit me!
Q. During 2011 or so, people struggled to get their portfolios made. Can you share a bit on how those days were like for you when you went to college?
A. I went to Ramjas College to study Economics. Like any other Indian parent, mine too told me to complete my graduation and then do anything I wanted. During college too I didn’t get enough opportunities to act in the college theatre. But I did get my portfolio done. It was extremely hard and expensive back then. But I was lucky to do a couple of campaigns because of that. But when we talk about the scene of modelling back then in Delhi, it was either ramp modelling or portrait modelling. And I inclined towards the motion side of things. That was when I knew that I might have to go to Mumbai because that’s where the motion picture scenes really happened.
Q. During your second year of college you finally went to Mumbai for the first time. Tell us about that experience. And can you also share about your experience of going abroad.
A. I remember when I went to Mumbai for the first time to give a shot at acting, I had called my father to tell him that I wanted to come back. It was scary to be honest. For someone like me who had been living with his family all throughout, stepping out into a completely unknown crowd was intimidating. There was this incident when I went to church and there was a lady who approached me and said that she felt God was telling her to advise me to just wait and not return. But just like Jonah did the opposite, I came back. And then I thought, why not go West! I had some family members there and so I went. But everything that I thought it would be, it was not. I would cry and regret that decision. Life there is boring and monotonous. Life in India is so much better according to me.
Q. You started going to your dad’s office. How hard it was for you to do something that was not meant for you? What did you do after that?
A. I start working in my dad’s office after returning from London. But there was this emptiness building inside me because I was doing something that I didn’t want to. I wanted to act. And we all have that itch. We know somewhere deep down, that what we are supposed and meant to do. So I gave it one last try. I went back to Mumbai again. And I’ve never looked back now. It was arguably the best decision that I’ve made so far.
Q. Could you tell us about your involvement in mental health issues? How important mental health is for you?
A. What I’ve experienced is that mental health issues are extremely tabooed in our society. The stigma around mental health is huge. But mental illnesses are so real. My involvement with LiveJam and the Kill It campaign that we did turned out so great. The impact was massive. I met a person once who said to me that we spend so much time and money on our physicality but we spend way less or none when it comes to our mental health.
Q. We have heard about the story of a Journey to a Promised Land. What challenges did you face throughout your journey?
A. In India, parents don’t value unconventional fields like the Performing Arts as compared to the conventional careers of engineering and medicine. My parents were the same and wanted me to do my bachelors first and then they gave me a deadline of six months to do what I wanted to do. But the problem with these short deadlines is that we end up beating ourselves if we don’t make it within that period. I did that too. Challenges included finding an apartment in Mumbai...you almost need a miracle to make that happen. My savings ran out very soon. Even the paycheck took a minimum of 30 days to come.
Q. You seem at peace with yourself now. What difference did Jesus make in your life?
A. God obviously takes precedence in my life. Initially, when I used to get rejected for roles that I really thought I was best suited for, I used to get depressed. And it happens to all of us. But slowly and steadily, God evolved me. Like most of us, I viewed my life from a very narrow perspective that time. But now after 6-7 years, when I see from a bird’s eye perspective, I feel so relaxed. I feel so grateful for the roles that I had been rejected and left out for. I know now that God is leading me where he wants to.
Q. Any advice to your younger self or anybody out there who wants to make a career in Performing Arts?
A. I don’t QUIT. Not quitting is the best trait that you can develop. When you find your life’s purpose, thoughts of quitting or quitting in life in general fade away. That’s why I encourage people to go deep inside of themselves, pray and seek the answer for this question - what is the purpose of their life? Having deadlines is good, but don’t beat yourself up or get depressed when you don’t meet those deadlines. It takes more time than you think it would.
Have a side gig happening. Always have some gigs, small or big--it doesn’t matter which can help you when things go haywire. And start now. Don’t procrastinate. Don’t keep waiting for the perfect moment because there is none. Start today. Start now! Finally, savings are very important. Take my advice and try saving as much as possible.
Follow Arman Nagpal @armannagpal on Instagram.