Stella Adler & Her Mumbai Connection


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           APRIL 07 , 2013           11.00 P.M.

One of the most influential but not-so-well-known acting trainer of the world , Stella Adler was briefly associated with Mumbai through her acting institute . Famous film director Rahul Rawail signed MOU with her acting institute , got the franchise and finally opened ” Stella Adler Studio of Acting ” in Mumbai .

Cropped screenshot of Stella Adler from the tr...

Cropped screenshot of Stella Adler from the trailer for Shadow of the Thin Man (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

General public is not aware of her stature . Even in Indian acting training world she is not so well-known . For my readers and general public , I am quoting the complete preface written by legendary actor Marlon Brando , who was one of her many students . He wrote this preface for the book ” The Art of Acting ” , written by Howard Kissel :

English: A photograph promoting the film The W...

A photograph promoting the film The Wild One depicts actor Marlon Brando. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

” To me Stella Adler is much more than a teacher of acting . Through her work she imparts the most valuable kind of information – how to discover the nature of our own emotional mechanics and therefore those of others . She never lent herself to vulgar exploitation , as some other well-known so-called ” methods ” of acting have done . As a result , her contributions to the theatrical culture have remained largely unknown , unrecognized and unappreciated .

As far as I know , she was the only American artiste who went to Paris to study with Constantin Stanislavski , who was himself a skilled observer of human behaviour and a most prominent figure in Russian theatre . She brought back to this country knowledge of this technique and incorporated it in her teaching . Little did she know that her teachings would impact theatrical culture worldwide . Almost all film-making anywhere in the world has been affected by American films , which has been , in turn , influenced by Stella Adler’s teachings . She is loved by many and we owe her much .

I am grateful to the inestimable contributions she has made to my life and I feel privileged to have been associated with her and her family professionally and personally throughout my life . “

Stella Adler Theatre, 6777 Hollywood Boulevard...

Stella Adler Theatre, 6777 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Stella Adler Theatre

Stella Adler Theatre (Photo credit: Thomas Hawk)

This preface says everything about Stella Adler and I don’t think I can add anything more substantial . Though , compared to Lee Strasberg , she is not so well-known but according to many actors , directors and film personalities of the world , she was a better acting teacher . Every single-acting teacher of the world follows the principles laid down by Stanislavski but she was the only one who got trained under Stanislavski .

I am a great fan of Stella Adler . When I read about her life and work , I found to my amazement , that my behaviour in my class is quite similar to Ms. Stella Adler . Unintentionally and unknowingly I always shared same kind of relationship and vibes with my acting students .

It is sad that her foray in Mumbai was short-lived . It would have been pleasure to have her here . I personally feel that Mr. Rahul Rawail did not comprehend her importance and thus lost an opportunity . I am reproducing a news item from Mumbai Mirror of September 19 , 2012 about this stupendous failure .

Rawail’s acting school shuts shop?

VICKEY LALWANI, Mumbai Mirror Sep 19, 2012, 09.21AM IST
(Rahul Rawail )

Filmmaker Rahul Rawail’s (of Betaab and Arjun fame) acting school that was launched by Rishi Kapoor, Kajol, Priya Dutt and Poonam Dhillon amidst a lot of fanfare has shut shop. When we visited the academy situated in Ajivasan Building ‘B’ Wing on Juhu Tara Road, we found the place locked. We learnt that playback singer Suresh Wadkar is now using the place to hold his music classes every evening.

Acting trainers of India swear by Constantin Stanislavski and Lee Strasberg . They are not so fond of Stella Adler . Self-proclaimed most famous acting school of Mumbai , self-anointed most famous acting institute of India and self-appointed most famous acting academy of bollywood have no place in their heart for Stella Adler . They are blissfully unaware of her existence and her immense contributions to the world of acting training .

I keep on mentioning her theories of acting to my students in my acting institute  Vidur’s Kreating Charakters . One day I wish to visit ” Stella Adler Studio of Acting ” to pay my tribute . I wish and pray that as an acting trainer / tutor / teacher I should be able to achieve even 1/4 th of what she attained in her teaching life . I pray to God that like ” Stella Adler Studio of Acting ” , one day my acting institute Vidur’s Kreating Charakters will also be recognized as one of the most famous acting institutes of the world .




Adieu Elizabeth Taylor ; My Childhood Icon

Cropped screenshot of Elizabeth Taylor from th...

Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA               APRIL 02 , 2011                      06.45 P. M.

News of the sad demise of Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor , better known as Elizabeth Taylor , a.k.a. Liz Taylor came as a rude shock. She was my childhood icon, my first Hollywood celebrity, who made me familiar with Hollywood film industry. My admiration for her grew when I heard that she demanded and got one million dollars and a hefty percentage of the profit as her remuneration for ” Cleopatra ” [ 1963 ] . I was awestruck and became a huge fan. Her husband Richard Burton was also an icon , whom I used to adore.

Cropped screenshot of Richard Burton and Eliza...

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra

Cover of

Cover of Cleopatra

When I went to Allahabad for higher studies in 1969, I started watching Hollywood movies regularly. I used to watch her movies religiously. In those days , when I knew nothing about acting , I was particularly enamoured by her voice and dialogue delivery. Her chiseled face , razor’s edge voice and violet eyes had lasting impression on me and it refuses to subside even after so many years and shall remain a part of me even after her death.

Cropped screenshot of Elizabeth Taylor from th...

Elizabeth Taylor in Father of the Bride

I am unable to say much about her as I don’t know her personally. But few facts of her career are well-known to the world. She was born in London and moved to United States of America during her childhood. There she started working in Hollywood movies as child artiste. Her first movie as child artiste was ” THERE’S ONE BORN IN EVERY MINUTE ” [ 1942 ] . ” LASSIE COME HOME ” [ 1943 ], ” WHITE CLIFFS OF DOVER ” [ 1944 ] and ” NATIONAL VELVET ” [ 1944 ] were some of her hit films as child actor. The last mentioned ” NATIONAL VELVET ” [ 1944 ] was her biggest hit as child actor. She was 12 years old when she worked in this film. During the filming , she fell from the horse and this was the beginning of her lifelong chronic back problem.

Her first adult role was ” CONSPIRATORS ” [ 1949 ]. She got success with her second film ” FATHER OF THE BRIDE ” [ 1950 ] and much critical acclaim with her third film ” A PLACE IN THE SUN ” [ 1951 ] . After this film she was nominated for Oscars 4 times for her following films consecutively  : ” RAINTREE COUNTRY ” [ 1957 ] , ” CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF ” [ 1958 ] , ” SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER ” [ 1959 ] , ” and BUTTERFIELD 8 ” [ 1960 ]. She got her first Oscar for ” BUTTERFIELD 8 ” [ 1960 ]. Such staggering successes sealed her box office position and she became numero uno in the Hollywood industry. She got her second oscar again for ” WHO IS AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOLF ” [ 1960 ] . In this film she starred opposite her husband and mighty star Richard Burton. Together they starred in 6 more films including ” DR. FAUSTUS ” [ 1967 ] based on the play of Christopher Marlowe. I have seen the film and it is still one of my all time favourites. I was mesmerized by her beauty in some other films like ” REFLECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE ” [ 1967 ] , her starrer with Marlon Brando, another favourite of mine.

Her private life was no-less momentous. Her 8 marriages to 7 husbands was talk of the gossip – mongers. I used to read about her charity works in various papers and was always fascinated by her life. But after the above mentioned film with Marlon Brando , I couldn’t follow her films regularly.

It is sad that she is gone . Life is ephemeral . In her later years Elizabeth Taylor was wheel-chair bound. But her zest for life was unparalleled.

I deeply mourn the death of my childhood icon. There shall never be another Elizabeth Taylor in my life again.

Adieu Ms. Taylor ! You shall always be fondly remembered .




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