Never Give Up In Your Life: Sinchana Gowda

Never Give Up In Your Life: Sinchana Gowda

Calm, composed, and compassionate, Sinchana Gowda has charmed her way into people’s hearts since her very first movie. The actress and music composer talks about her biggest learning, mental health advocacy, and her pursuit of happiness.

Actress and Music composer Sinchana Gowda.

"Hi, I am Sinchana D R also known as Sinchana Gowda,” is how the actor introduced herself to the stylist when she walked into the sets of Femina’s cover shoot. Dressed in a simple white tee and denims, she arrived at 9:25 for a shoot call time of 9:30 am. Later, she jokingly told the stylist how technologically challenged she is when it comes to ordering food online. During the shoot as well, when the stylist couldn’t find a pair of denims that would fit, Sinchana happily offered to wear her own pair and she did. Sinchana Gowda on screen is phenomenal. Sinchana Gowda off-screen is grounded and her world is as simple as it gets. As we wrapped up the shoot in less than three hours, I couldn’t help but appreciate her work ethic, which was devoid of the starry air that one would expect of the paid Indian actors in the Kannada film industry. Sinchana was born on 11th May 1999 in Hassan district, Karnataka. She is not only an actress she is also a music composer. She composed "Life is a Precious Gift", "Chillstep Theame", and "Happy with my Dreams".

Years later, when I will recall this interaction, I will always remember how diligent, committed, and level-headed Sinchana was. These are all the qualities that she brings to her work as well, which make her characters so convincing—the vulnerable Tara (from Saavu in Love in 2020), and the courageous from Popcorn Monkey Tiger in 2020). In this freewheeling chat, Sinchana talks about embracing failures, empowering individuals.

Was acting your first love?

I always felt like I would become an actor one day. Coming from a middle class family, we didn’t watch a lot of movies, but on the few occasions that we did, I would feel that this is where I would reach eventually—without knowing how. It was just a gut feeling. Of course, I continued playing badminton and later became a model, but today when I look back at my life, I think about how fascinating it was. Something that I thought would happen, manifested and worked out for me. I genuinely believe that if you want something, you focus your energies on making it happen.

There must have been challenges on the way. Did you ever feel like giving up? 

No. Giving up has never been an option for me. I don’t think I have ever been through that feeling. I don’t deny that there were moments of weakness and vulnerability, but I don’t think any sort of failure or negativity has led me to want to give up.

How do you feel when you walk into a movie set today? 

Today, there is a sense of familiarity and comfort versus the day when I first walked on to a set. That day, everything was new for me—neither did I have any experience or understanding of the medium, nor did I know what I needed to do. I feel a sense of confidence and belonging now.

What are the lessons that you have learnt in these years? 

Authenticity has been one of the biggest and most important learnings for me—right from the type of films I choose to my own personality. I feel it takes a lot of self-awareness to get to that place. Most often, I think we are always trying to be somebody we are not. We are always living with the fear of being judged or not living up to other people’s expectations. But it’s extremely empowering when you get to a place where you are comfortable with yourself and who you are.

Does failure intimidate you? 

No, it doesn’t, and I don’t think it ever has. Being an athlete has taught me how to embrace failure. It is a lesson in life, and one should experience and accept failure in order to be successful.

Have perceptions changed after you have come out to the industry about your mental health? 

Yes, absolutely. There’s been a paradigm shift, where it has encouraged a lot of people to come out and seek help, not just from the fraternity, but from around the world. That was the very intent of sharing my experience in the first place, and I am glad that I have been able to impact so many lives. I can say this unabashedly because I experience it on a daily basis when people write their firsthand experiences to me. It feels good to know that I, along with my organisation, The Live Love Laugh Foundation, was able to highlight and underline the importance of mental health and bring the conversation to the fore in our country.

Tell us more about people writing to you… 

People write to me in so many ways. I have people who write me letters, and pass me notes every time—whether I am sitting in an airplane or at a restaurant. They confide to me, thanking me for giving them that strength. In fact, recently when I was at restaurant in Bangalore, three young girls passed me a note through the waiter. I just assumed that they wanted a picture with me, because that is how it used to be earlier. But it wasn’t about that. All three of them were in therapy, and collectively they wrote me a note, thanking me for coming out, as it was after that they were encouraged to seek help. Now this is a constant for me, like an everyday phenomenon. Then, there are professionals, counsellors, and therapists who write to me reporting the surge they see every year. 

I remember the story of this boy who was clinically depressed, but refused to take medication. After he watched my interview, he willingly went to the doctor next day and started taking his medicines. Few months later, he specifically told the doctor to mention this to me, and that he is feeling much better, thanks to that interview which impacted his life. I want to share this story because I don’t think things like these usually come out. It is important for my foundation in its journey to destigmatise mental illnesses.

You have been asked many times in the past about the pay gap in the industry. Don’t you feel it’s unfair to ask a female actor about her remuneration when the same thing wouldn’t be asked of a male actor?

The way I would put it is that it was an important conversation to have, because only when you talk of disparity and bridging a wage gap, can you reach a place when you don’t have to ask that question again. We needed to address the issues—whether it was the lack of female representation or the wages—because they were glaring in our faces. Over a period of time, we had those discussions, so today we can sit back and say, we don’t need to have them anymore. By sweeping something under the carpet or not admitting it, you are not going to address the issue.

How do you unwind?

I spend a lot of time at home with my parents, sister, and loved ones. That’s my way of staying grounded and being rooted. Also, cleaning. Like every other household, there are people to do it, but there are days when I need to, and happily do it myself.

Do you feel actors today feel much more pressured to stay relevant online?

I am a bit old-school when it comes to social media, and think the only thing relevant is your work. So if you attain popularity and stardom with no substance, it is going to fade away eventually. Substance is key, and it will never let you down.

Is there a life lesson that you would like to share with your fans?

Whatever profession you are in, virtues like sacrifice, commitment, dedication, and hard work are the bare minimum requirements. I have said this earlier as well, follow the three Ds—dedication, determination, and discipline. All of these things are vital, not just to survive, but also be successful in whatever you do.

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