From behind the camera to in front of it, all for the love of cinema. Indian directors are increasingly donning the greasepaint and taking on roles for a friend's film or just to satisfy that creative urge - mostly to great success.
Multi-tasking is in. And how. Tigmanshu Dhulia of "Paan Singh Tomar" fame made a successful debut as an actor in Anurag Kashyap's hit two-part saga "Gangs of Wasseypur". Anurag, in turn, played the sexually abusive stepfather in Onir's critically acclaimed "I AM".
Writer-director Amol Gupte stepped in front of the camera for Vishal Bharadwaj's "Kaminey", most effective as the menacing villain, and Farah Khan did so too with the main role in the romcom "Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi".
Not to forget Farhan Akhtar who turned actor with National Award winning film "Rock On!!" after directing hits "Dil Chahta Hai" and "Don - The Chase Begins Again" and hasn't looked back since.
From playing side roles to lead characters, they are doing it all.
In Tigmanshu's view, the awareness about the nuances of acting makes directors a better option.
"If a director feels that another director suits a character, then why not? Even though as a director, you don't act, but you are aware of how it is done. So obviously it becomes easier for you. It is better than taking a newcomer who is completely unaware of how it's done," Tigmanshu told IANS.
Not many know that Tigmanshu trained as an actor at the National School of Drama (NSD) and returned to acting almost after 20 years.
"I specialised in acting. I was acting after 20 years; so that was a little difficult. But I was under no pressure," he said.
That Anurag was a friend helped. "I was very comfortable with Anurag. He is a good friend of mine."
Farah, director of hits like "Main Hoon Na" and "Om Shanti Om", says she enjoyed her acting stint in Bela Sehgal's film.
"At first, I thought both Sanjay (Leela Bhansali) and Bela were pulling my leg, and the moment I would say yes, they would come out with their joke. I thought they had approached me to choreograph a song. I never thought in my weirdest dreams that they would offer me a role."
But it was a reality and what fascinated Farah was the script as she was able to relate to certain parts of the film.
"As the film was being produced by Sanjay, I was sure that it would be aesthetically done instead of being a tacky, cheap film. It also happens to be Bela's passion project. So I thought let's give it a shot; who gets a chance such as this otherwise? It's still surreal for me," said Farah.
While Farah and Tigmanshu clearly enjoyed their acting stint, Anurag has a different story to tell.
"The films I acted in happened a long time ago. I only take up acting when I feel I can do the part. I have been an actor and I was fascinated with acting but not any more. I am better at making films than acting, but still there are a lot of things to learn," he said.
In the past too directors like Nagesh Kukunoor tried their hand at acting. He was seen in his directorial debut "Hyderabad Blues" and Sudhir Mishra acted in "Traffic Signal" and "Raat Gayi Baat Gayi".
For some, the acting bug has bitten in earnest.
Farhan, who has been acting in many films, will be seen next in the title role in "Bhag Milkha Bhag" and will romance Vidya Balan in "Shaadi Ke Side Effects", a sequel to "Pyaar Ke Side Effects"
Prawal Raman's "404" saw Nishikant Kamat, who directed "Force", showing his acting skills. He will be acting in Rohit Jugraj's next film.
(Anjuri Nayar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)