Monday 21 May 2012

Out of the comfortable numb

The Crushed team have asked a few of our close friends to guest blog a response to our play (which is playing now!) Third to pick up a pen, is Bollywood actor, singer, songwriter, and screenwriter Nicholas Brown. Like our female lead Kelly, Nicholas left Australia many years ago. We asked him to muse on what’s it’s like being an Aussie expat and to riff on the notion of homecoming…

‘Leaving Australia was one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever made. It’s the build up that’s the hardest. The anxiety, the fear of the unknown, losing all your personal and business connections and having to start over. You feel like you’ve spent years getting to a certain point just to throw it all away.

Once I got on the plane though, it all seemed like a distant memory. In my new surroundings, all I could do was live in the present.

Most people leave because they’re fed up with things being safe, they’re frustrated with their careers and need some sense of risk to catapult them out of the comfortable numb. That was certainly the case for me. Leaving Australia helped me find my inner electric boogaloo. Although, these days I need to return home to find it!

I left Sydney in 2007 for Mumbai to pursue an acting career in Bollywood. I had no idea what I was getting myself into or how I would cope. I wasn’t sure when I would return, but when I did, I would’ve damn hell have got my ‘Bolly’ on!

Being an ex-pat was a lot of fun. I was ‘exotified’ for being Aussie, which was refreshing, because back home being exotic was a hindrance. I think that’s starting to change…

I remember my first trip home after my initial Indian  adventure. I’d become used to being constantly visually, emotionally and spiritually stimulated. India is such a fascinating country. Mumbai is constantly evolving. Bollywood is booming and constant change is part of its psyche. One of the basic tenets of the Hindu philosophy is that you need to destroy to create and because of this, Mumbai is progressing at the speed of light! And so, I had changed. I had grown. I had become accustomed to chaos and risk and I wanted to bring some of that back home to my friends and family.

Of course, when I returned, the only thing that had changed were a few restaurants on King St in Newtown.

There’s something about the Australian sense of humour, it’s so dry, that it often glosses over what’s at its core – racism and jealousy. “Getting too big for ya’ boots are ya?” The tall poppy syndrome is definitely something you become more aware of when you return to Australia.

When I come home now, I internalise, because sharing my stories and adventures often results in being labeled boastful.

I love Australia and am proud of being Australian, but I think we can be so much more. If we don’t really look at ourselves, how can we move forward?

Despite two new prime ministers and the ridiculous cost of living, not much has changed since I left. The nostalgic part of me is pleased by this, but the revolutionary within wishes that we were more ephemeral.

India is steeped in religion, tradition and mythology, but still manages to evolve. India evolves by embracing its history. I believe the only way Australia can become an open-minded, free country is to look to our indigenous past for guidance.

Maybe we could get rid of the Union Jack from our flag and replace it with the Aboriginal flag?! And can we make Yothu Yindi's 'Treaty' our National Anthem?’

 Like what you're reading? You can learn more about Nicholas’s projects past, present and future here:

Like what you're hearing? Then book your tickets to Crushed! 

Check out Nicholas getting his Bollywood On here:

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