The world of glamour can sometimes be an embodiment of ‘all that glitters is not gold’! As audiences hold the reigns of the fate of a movie or show, actors can end up being at the receiving end of bouquets and brickbats at the drop of a hat. Aahana Kumra is no stranger to both sides of this reality. The actress, seen in two back-to-back films India Lockdown and Salaam Venky, has opened up about how nasty comments from the audience can end up messing one’s mental health.
In an exclusive interview with Health Shots about all things wellness, Aahana was unfiltered when it came to talking about the “price” that actors pay for being in a high-risk and high-rewarding job. That price is more often than not associated with mental well-being.
“I think there are three people whose mental health gets impacted the most – actors, cricketers and politicians. All three of them get abused, come what may! When a cricketer performs badly, they are badgered by saying ‘itna kharaab khela’. If actors perform badly, they say ‘kya bakwaas actor hai’… I understand the world has become mean, and people feel they have the liberty to say whatever. But people’s growth can get stunted because it directly impacts our mental health,” says Aahana.
The 37-year-old has been active across different entertainment media, starting with theatre when she was all of 14. Later, she began her tryst with the screen, starting with television, and moving into short films and gradually feature dramas such as Lipstick Under My Burkha and The Accidental Prime Minister.
Being in the limelight comes with its own set of challenges – of living up to your own, the industry’s as well as the audience’s expectations.
Aahana adds, “With great power comes great responsibility. It’s something our Shri Shri Spiderman has said. I truly believe that if I didn’t want to achieve what I want to achieve, then I should have just done a bank or corporate job instead of a job where I will be abused or trolled.”
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On the repercussions of facing negative comments, Aahana reveals, “There were times I didn’t come out of my blanket for days because someone said something so mean. I’m like, ‘Humne kya galat kar diya hai?’ I understand that our audience’s expectations are very high and they expect us to be God. But we are not that. We are only human, and it’s only normal to err as humans.”
While she acknowledges that being an actor or celebrity means one’s job could impact someone’s life, she asserts that people must consider the hard work that goes behind each project before outrightly dismissing it.
A “kinder audience”, she asserts, is more than welcome in today’s times when people are moving towards lonely existences. Loneliness is one emotion that is touched upon through Aahana’s track in India Lockdown, a movie about how the Covid-19 lockdown impacted different people’s lives differently.
“Loneliness, anxiety, depression and mental health are very important conversations that rose during the lockdown. I’ve personally never lived alone in my life and the only time I was living alone was when I was isolated when I had Covid-19. In those days, I realised I had developed anxiety,” recounts the actress.
Watch Aahana Kumra’s full Health Shots interview here!
What is scarier – being alone or being lonely?
“Being lonely,” pat comes the reply. “You can be alone and you will be fine, but being lonely… You could be in a room full of people and still feel lonely. We have already isolated ourselves from everyone else. Everyone is inside their phones,” she adds.
On the flipside, technology is what most people leaned on to survive the perils of the lockdown – whether it was to stay in touch with their loved ones, reach out for medical help or for work.
“Yes, social media helped us connect, but it has also made us all lonely. Nobody realises what a potential cause of harm it is going to be for all of us. This is going to explode,” says Aahana.
She recounts how she eased her lockdown days by falling back on her love for fitness and by streamlining her life into a routine.
“I had a wonderful routine during the lockdown which I never had before in my life. We are nomads as actors. We pick our suitcase and move from one hotel room to another, go to set, come back at night, eat our food and go to sleep. During the lockdown, I was like ‘I can wake up, I can workout, cook my own meal, do my own ‘jhaadu, pochha, bartan’, had time for an afternoon nap, wake up, meditate and play with my nephew. I was like ‘Wow, I can achieve so much just being home and having a routine’. The lockdown was incredibly different for me,” she says.