Sharad Kelkar Redefines Failure

1. Discuss your journey and how did you navigate towards your current profession? (It's a longer answer)


 I’m not a trained actor and I just became one by fluke. When I came to Mumbai, I tried my hand at modelling and got passionate about acting. Today, acting is my life. It’s my greatest passion. I’ve been part of the entertainment industry for the last 16 years and I’ve learnt a lot during this journey. It has definitely been a satisfying journey so far. I consider myself lucky to have got great projects to showcase my skills. While I strongly believe that acting can be learnt, I also feel that the basics have to be inside you. The kind of projects I’ve worked on and the talented directors I’ve worked with have only made me better by the day. I thank God every day for offering me a profession I’m so passionate about. Every day is a learning and I enjoy every bit of it. 

 2. Share one incident in your life that completely changed your perspective about failure and success and how? (Narrate that incident/phase of life )


When I came to Mumbai, there were a lot of fashion shows and I got a chance there. But when the new batch comes, you tend to start getting less work and that’s what happened with me. That’s when I thought of 

doing television but because I used to stammer, it was a big barrier in acting. In fact, I got replaced in one show because of that. It was a failure for me, but I decided that if I wanted to stay in Mumbai and work here, it was imperative to get rid of the problem. After that, I got married also. So, my wife, friends and a few directors helped me overcome the problem of stammering. That replacement changed me life. It shook me and forced me to overcome the issue of stammering. That’s how failure taught me to be a winner.


3. Discuss your initial fears and challenges and for anyone aspiring to join your industry and how did you overcome those initial challenges?


 I believe the industry is quite demanding. It’s good in a way, because if you are here and you want to make a career, you need to devote time, energy, sweat and blood. Since I never trained formally in acting and didn’t have any experience in theatre either, there was a lot of fear and appreciation. But I invested myself completely in delivering what was expected of me. I kept learning the craft on the job and the fact that I’m appreciated is enough for me. You can definitely hone your skills if you put in the right efforts and have the dedication in you. That’s exactly what I did. I just do my work wholeheartedly and don’t care if I’m being rated adequately or not. Once you love your work without caring about the reaction it will receive, things become easier. That’s the mantra I follow. My work has to give me contentment. That’s all that matters.

 4. Discuss a few growth habits/rituals you follow each day that completely changed your professional life?


 I think I’m a very focused person. Even if I don’t know anything about a character that’s offered to me, I try to understand the psyche of the character and I also add my own inputs and perform my part honestly. I never doubt my skills and I watch great content to understand the nuances from the best artistes in the world of cinema. I’m also very disciplined, so that helps me stay focused. Another thing that I follow is the habit of dissociating myself from the characters I play. For instance, when I’m shooting for a project, I get in the zone and when I leave the sets, I’m off the character completely. So the switch on, switch off technique is quite helpful and I adapted it very early in my career. I feel it’s a trick that anyone aspiring to be an actor should learn.


5. Share five Learnings from your journey.

  •  Success is a reward that’s earned after a lot of hard work. There may be hurdles on the way, but they only act as boosters. 
  • Choosing the right projects is important if you want to make a mark. So, patience is the key. The quality of a role attracts me more, not the length or medium.
  • It’s important to be open to feedback and criticism. That only helps you hone your skills.
  • It’s important to strike work life balance in a profession like ours. Work should never overshadow our personal life.

As part of cinema, we have a huge responsibility and role towards our society. People look up to us for inspiration, so setting the right examples is imperative.


6. How to handle challenges/pressures/rejections/setbacks. Advice people on how to handle and cope with failures/rejections/setbacks/challenges in Context to your industry?

 As long as you are confident, you know what you’re doing and you love what you do, handling setbacks isn’t difficult. In fact, when you fall or face rejections, the fun of experiencing success just doubles. It’s all about the attitude of a person. This industry is tough and we all 

know it even before entering. So once you tell yourself that you will hang around, no matter what, life becomes smooth. I consider myself lucky that I didn’t have to face too many setbacks or rejections. My experience across all the mediums - films, OTT and TV - has been fulfilling.


7. Do you feel Fear of Failure and the Stigma attached to Failing are issues that need to be talked about if yes then why? Discuss the Power of Cinema in shaping people's perspectives?

Absolutely! In India, cinema plays a huge role in how people cultivate their tastes. It’s a way of life, in a way. So cinema can definitely play a huge role in spreading the message that failures are fine. In fact, there have been so many inspirational films that have shown that. I also believe that apart from films and shows, celebrities and other influential people can also play a role in spreading awareness around success, failure and how such challenges are fine.


8. Failing It Up is an initiative to De-stigmatize Failing by Redefining Failure. What are your thoughts about the initiative Failing It Up? Will this initiative help in creating an environment of growth by changing people's mindset about failing? How do leaders like you perceive failures differently that the thought of quitting doesn't occur in our minds?

I strongly believe in the saying that failures are a stepping stone to success. Unless you face challenges, you’d never understand the value of success. In that sense, I believe Failing It Up is a great initiative. It’s imperative that the stigma around failure is eradicated from our society. I believe success and failure are very subjective, and society definitely doesn’t hold the right to define anyone’s success or failure. The mindset of people needs to change and this initiative is a great step in that direction.

Photographer: Tejas Nerurkar Styled By: Sugandha Sood & Kareen Parwani Make-up: Sanket Premalwar | Hair: Kishor Thakur