Possessing a talent and sustaining it are two different things. Many people can’t achieve their destinations because of the wrong environment and lack of support but the ones who struggle through the bad times and remain afloat will achieve their dreams. The story of Sidharth Yaji is one where he nurtured his talent and kept going despite all adversities and slowly walked the path of success.
To keep his passion for singing and acting alive, Sidharth gave up on his business activities. “I was a distributor for Philips lighting and C&F agent for Electrolux range of products, but to pursue my passion of singing and acting, I gave the godowns on rent,” said Sidharth. He discovered his talent for singing when he was in the 12th Grade of high school. “There was a social gathering in our school and I formed a small orchestra with my friends. The show became a superhit and then there was no turning back.”
Sidharth’s story of sacrifice did not start with his business but long before. “I was into science but I gave that up and went into commerce so that I had more time to pursue my passion,” he said. By giving up on science, which requires a full day of attendance, he made more time to practice his singing. “I started doing a minimum of three shows a week. and I used to imitate SP Balasubramaniam’s voice,” he said. When I asked Sidharth how he developed a passion for singing he said “My father was very much fond of singing and there was a radio which would play famous Hindi throughout the day and slowly I developed an interest and started singing along. I was not aware that my casual singing will one day become my professional trait.”
During those days, orchestras were very popular, and due to the lack of the digital revolution, people used to listen to live performances. “I have done more than 500 shows across the state of Goa and we have performed outside Goa in places like Belgaum, Kolhapur, and Mumbai,” he said, adding that during that time he used to perform the whole night. “It started affecting my business activities. After performing late at night, it became difficult to get up in the morning and attend to my business, hence I decided to sacrifice the business to follow my passion.”
The Journey into Acting
While pursuing his passion for singing, Sidharth entered the field of acting with stage shows. “I joined the theatre at Gomant Vidya Niketan where I used to participate in stage shows and dramas in the Marathi language,” he said.. “We used to participate in the competitions organized at Kala Academy. I also started performing at the annual Shigmo Festival which comprises drama at Zambaulim besides participating in the annual Marathi plays organized by Gomant Vidya Niketan. I have been playing at Zambaulim for almost 28 years,” he added.
Entry into Regional Films
Sidharth did not miss any opportunity that came his way. His transition from stage shows to acting in films is very interesting. “One of my friends went to Mumbai to learn scriptwriting, and when he came back to Goa, he had one script written by him. He was in the process of making a short film and invited me to play a lead role. I played the role of the landlord in that short film,” said Sidharth. He told us that following his brief stint acting in short films, he decided to enter into production and launched his own film called “Ram” which went on to become a super hit. “The film was based on the bold subject of a 16-year-old boy who wanted to lose his virginity by going on a roller-coaster ride. The film got recognition from various film festivals across the country and was produced by me but it was directed and scripted by my friend.”
After doing short films and getting recognition for them, Sidharth decided to enter into full-fledged production and he produced a regional feature film based on the current scenario of a hospital in Goa. “The story of this film revolves around the political pressure on the Government hospitals in Goa. The film is in post-production and soon will be released in the theatres across Goa,” said Sidharth, adding that he is playing the role of the dean of the hospital. “This is my first full feature film production and I have high aspirations towards it.”
As a struggling artist, one has to do a lot to sustain himself. Sidharth also ventured into all the available opportunities to keep himself afloat in this industry. “I also work as a line producer, which basically deals with arranging the facilities for the big-budget films that come down from Mumbai for the location shoots in Goa. I arrange all the permissions from ESG, booking of hotel rooms, and provide actors and dancers if needed. The major task in this is arranging locations depending on their demands.”
Now that orchestras are no longer in such demand, Sidharth now deals with wedding planners. “The wedding planners invite us for live performances at destination weddings organized by them and I have my team ready to take up these assignments as and when they come,” he said. He tells us that he is also planning to produce a Marathi film. “The regional language films (Konkani) don’t have such a big market, while the Marathi audience is growing and investing money which makes more sense from the point of recovery. I am in process of producing a Marathi film by giving opportunities to some Goan talents and using well-known Marathi actors in lead roles. I am just waiting for the release of my first Konkani film and once that is done, I will start with the Marathi one.”
According to Sidharth, Goa needs good acting skills that match national and international standards. “Actors should be fit for the role he or she is playing and they need to also be able to play versatile characters,” he said. Sidharth advises that one must be ready to face struggle and not give in when the situation is not going as per their demand. “You must follow your passion and nurture your creativity but you may face a lot of hurdles on your way. Things won’t always work out the way you have planned but you should bank on your talent decision and should not give up.”
“While doing all of the above you should not forget to remain simple and humble. Whatever amount of success you achieve, make sure that does not go to your head and you don’t give up on your qualities of humility and simplicity. The field we are in has many limitations. Many a time you may not get paid for your work, you will be constantly compared with others, you won’t have a choice of role when you are not yet an established artist, and may face harsh criticism from the audiences and critiques, but this is part and parcel of this line of profession and constantly nurturing the creativity and staying focused on your goal will help you to win at the end”.